Sailors to attempt new Northwest Passage route
Route has only been used by icebreakers in the past
Three adventurers are attempting to sail a small boat through the Northwest Passage, following a route that has only been used by icebreakers.
The crew — a Canadian, an American and a Swede — hope to make it the rest of the way through the Parry Channel by the end of the week.
The crew is using a 31-foot sailboat, called the Belzebub II. The route has never been tested by other sailors.
"We all of a sudden realized that why would we go in and just do a trip with no purpose when we could attempt one of these new emerging passages and really try to bring some awareness around the climate change we see taking place up here," said Nicolas Peissel, one of the three crew members.
Other adventurers have sailed through the Northwest Passage by heading southwest when they reach Somerset Island and have headed towards Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
The Belzebub II started its Northwest Passage journey in Grise Fiord, Nunavut, which is Canada's most northern community. They then headed southwest to Resolute, Nunavut.
The boat and its crew left Resolute this afternoon and will continue to check ice conditions to see if they can finish what they started.
The next couple of days could be dangerous because if they get caught between ice floes, a shift in ice could crush their boat.
The Canadian Ice Service said the boat will meet mostly open water, but there are a few ice patches.
"In M'Clure Strait, at the western end of the Parry Channel, there's a large area of multi-year ice and that could be a big problem," said Denis Dubé, senior ice forecaster.
That big problem refers to a massive ice floe which could block the team’s exit.
There is an alternative route through the Prince of Wales Strait on the west side of Banks Island.
But Peissel said they are still optimistic they can finish their chosen route.
They will check satellite images of the ice each day.