Report from the 19th to the 23rd of October:
We left Liverpool Wednesday afternoon and sailed along the coast of Nova Scotia. Salina and Noe were on watch. Suddenly towards midnight they call: “All hands on deck! We see about 35 boats chasing us and on collision course!”
I came up still half asleep. My first reaction was: “Pirates”! … but so many and in these waters. They came closer and closer. We saw them put their nets around us in the water. A fishing boat called us: “Hey, we nearly rammed you guys. You should put a light!” I told him: “We have one on the mast!” – “I can only stars see, you should put on your cabin lights too, as close as everyone is to each other here, lights on the mast don’t work!”, he replied.
I asked him: “What’s going on here?” He told me: “You are sailing in 1000s of Dollars!” I did not understand what he meant and he explained: “You are in the middle of a huge school of herring!”
It was amazing to see humans in action where you can make a fortune in some minutes! There a no rules, it’s war! For us it was kind of ironic to overcome all the icebergs in the Northwest Passage and now trying to avoid collisions with the fishing vessels all around us.
Since Liverpool we had been on the same tack and the wind was shifting towards east, when we came in US waters in the Bay of Fundy. We contacted customs and immigration to pass all boat and passport details on to them with the request to clear us in, 1st thing in the morning. A weather front started approaching us just as we saw land again. Just after sunset we encountered the first lobster trap buoys and soon after we were in a forest of them. It was pitch dark and with a flash light we tried to identify the traps. It was similar to the pack ice in Fury&Hecla Strait, just that we were sailing with lobster traps and lines all over the place. The wind was picking up when we sailed in to the Bar Harbor’s harbor. There were many buoys and boats and an uncomfortable swell. We decided to leave the harbor and anchor behind Bar Island around midnight, where we had a good sleep.
In the morning we got up when two huge cruise ships which were looking for shelter from the strong SE-winds anchored close to us. Customs went to the cruise ships first, so we had to wait. Then they told us that they could not come out to our boat, so we would have to dock somewhere. This was quite a challenge for us in this strong wind. The harbor master recommended not to dock at the city dock.
Luckily, whale researcher Sean Todd together with Toby Stephenson invited us to dock at the of the Collage of the Atlantic’s pier. Even though it was very shallow for our boat, it all worked out thanks to the high tides they have here.
We got cleared by customs in time to do a TOPtoTOP presentation for the students of the Collage of the Atlantic, followed by a long discussion how we can partner in the future. There we got a surprise: We got a package with a InReach device from Garmin former DeLorme. Now you can track us where ever we go.
On Saturday, we had another great surprise! Meret told us to be on skype at 20:30h. We tried hard to contact her without any luck and the suddenly she just walked into the dining hall of COA.
All of us were so exited to see her again! The College of the Atlantic is where she was studying last year, so she knows everyone here already.
Being at COA was really inspiring. The school has so many good examples. In some of the student housing they only have compost toilets. A lot of the food served in the college dining hall ‘Take a break’, comes from two local farms. This means the food served matches the local seasonal produce. The waste system is also really well developed. A group of student’s job is to collect and correctly recycle the resources the schools discards of. They also aid and promote thoughtful consumption to reduce waste also in collaboration with the college zero waste club. They are just in the middle of doing a waste audit to quantify the amount of waste the campus produces and see how to improve the recycling on campus. They have been conducting audits almost every year now for the last 3 years, so comparing between the years is interesting.
At the presentation we planed our 1st common event: A clean-up today, Sunday morning. Afterwards we were invited to brunch with Darron Collin’s family at their home, before we go to climb the tallest mountain in the area, Cadillac Mountain together with mountain guide and friend Richard Parker.
Monday night we did a presentation at the Theater in Liverpool, Nova Scotia organized by our friend Tim Woodfort. Thanks to that event we are Tuesday and Wednesday busy in the schools in Liverpool (see at the end of this blog).
Victor send me his report about our NWP success as a birthday present:
Opening the shortest Route through the Northwest Passage
Dario family of 7 & 3 friends of TOPtoTOP-Expedition sailboat Pachamama at Northwest Passage 2016.
by Victor Wejer, 13 October 2016
It has been a difficult passage for Pachamama starting in Nome, Alaska, beginning of August 2016. Actually, Pachamama started in California in April, crossing the Pacific from Mexico at the beginning of May towards Hawaii, in order to use wind currents most efficiently to sail north.
In Hawaii, marine Biologist, Meret Jucker joined the sailboat to collect ocean and climate related data for the IPRC and ACS. They were making its trek toward Dutch Harbor, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, with not so favorable winds. Conditions worsened, with the crew arriving to Dutch Harbor with the last puff of the good winds.
There they celebrated in full swing and reconnected with previous acquaintances. Their passage from Hawaii guidance was not so easy, mainly due to their lack of having tracking device informing of actual position in the ocean and winds affecting. Winds were inconsistent for about the three weeks crossing and the crew experienced seasickness along the way.
As anyone may know Bering Sea is always a challenge due to its shallow depth. It was again a struggle to achieve experiencing variable winds next way point to Nome. In Nome, baby Mia turned 7 months and Christina joined the boat with an InReach tracker device. After few days there, and meeting two more contenders of NWP, Agar II (ISR) & Eagle Quest II (HKK), the deadline of re-start was raised. They were all supposed to leave at the very end of July and ice concentration at Point Barrow dictated otherwise. Agar II hired a professional ice pilot to guide them and she also was very apprehensive for re-start. Days were passing and intensity arising. Eventually taking consideration of weather & ice, a decision was made to leave on 4th August 2016. Kind of late in face of a few previous years. Immediately, concerns of finishing transit date emerged making it difficult to predict anything. Sailing was mixed with many tacking into the wind along the way of Alaska west coast to Point Barrow. Bering Str. and Arctic Circle were achieved on 5th August whoever wants to recognize starting point of Northwest Passage. Very few know that at least Northwest Passage actually starts at the travers of Sachs Harbor NWT Canada and ends at the travers of entry to Baffin Bay Nunavut. That’s what international mariners recognize. Anything else is just artificially invented in the recent years by some and not by late Capt. Thomas Pullen and Charles Swithinbank who invented listing in 1991 and first published in Polar Records.
Continuing Pachamama crossing at Point Barrow and beyond they had to keep close to shore of Alaska to avoid concentration of ice and as they progressed the minimum of ice was developing with maximum of opposite winds sailing toward east. Plans to visit Barter Island had to be abandoned due to very shallow approach to the island. From there they experienced foggy conditions, light winds and sporadic ice floes.
Eventually as recommended Pachamama landed on Herschel Island on 11th August, in a very quaint, Pauline Cove. It is the historical place of whalers wintering there since XIX century. Now managed by Park Ranger who welcomes everyone to visit. Amundsen landed there to announce his closing Northwest Passage in 1906. Their arrival coincided with presence of team of biological scientists that gave crew of Pachamama good view of Herschel Is. ecological situation.
After two days they sailed further east with no immediate ice floes ahead. Going through rest of Beaufort Sea into Amundsen Gulf, Dolphin & Union Str. to Coronation Gulf and Dease Str. arriving to Cambridge Bay on 19th August non-stop.
After 4 days in Cambridge Bay and trying in vain to fix their autopilot they were pushed to continue to Gjoa Haven. Initial plans to use Victoria Str. crossing was not used due to extensive ice coverage there. Also possibility of visiting Gjoa Haven where Amundsen wintered couldn’t be taken away.
Winds prognosis upon leaving Cambridge Bay were not so good and eventually plans to stop at Jane Lind Is. were taken into consideration. Fortunately Pachamama reached Requisite Channel & Storis Passage intact following this dangerous passage with no problem. Careful selection and timing of tides in Simpson Str. allowed them to cross in between precisely staked range beacons to avoid under water rocks located near fairway with added skill of helmsman with Swiss Precision. Thanks to failed autopilot. At the approach to Simpson Strait the second ship of Sir John Franklin, the HMS Terror was discovered in Terror Bay some days later on the 3rd of September.
At that time I sent them SMS “You have just reached the most dangerous point of Simpson, Eta Is. and on time during slack tide. Precision timing”.
On 24 August at 18:14 MDT they reached Rasmussen Basin, getting to Gjoa Haven on 25 August at 02:18 MDT with the SMS received from Christina Hartmann who had an InReach tracker device “Wuuhuu..we re here.thank you for guiding us!we have 38kt wind and drinking a ankertrunk! Everyone happy”.
At Gjoa Haven Pachamama crew performed many presentations as usual for the schools and students and organized a clean up in their village. It drew respectful views from elders and students them self. They did environmental education with a total of 1200 Inuit students in the Arctic.
In the meantime despite plans to continue to Regent Inlet through Bellot Str. and further Lancaster Sd. and Baffin Bay to Greenland the new opportunity emerged.
Gulf of Boothia packed for years with heavy ice this time was showing dramatic relief giving opportunity of crossing Fury and Hecla Str. into general Hudson’s Bay area and to shorten cruise into Davis Str. Until 2016 only 3 icebreakers made it.
Also, as it turned out around the corner in Resolute Vagabond yacht with Eric Brossier showed up with desire to make short-cut to Labrador through Fury and Hecla eastbound. A little sooner David Cowper of Polar Bound left England expressed to concur Fury and Hecla as his desire was mounting for many years.
In view of all that, I have managed to persuade Dario & crew of Pachamama to take this route with many warnings and discomfort upcoming.
The action was taken place while the major and usual problem of preparation emerged. Who attempting NWP would be prepared to take so unusual route of NWP ? None is the answer. So was Pachamama.
Do you have enough information about this place? Sailing Direction, Currents & Tides and mostly the nautical charts? None of it had Pachamama. Eric Brossier was not fully prepared as well while having enormous polar experience. He can sail from point to point using sonar & radar while making valid notes of newly found way points. His skill is enormous after wintering many years in Arctic ice with his boat. Charts of Fury and Hecla are very sketchy and he was able to pick right places safely to anchor for the night and continue after to full success.
So, Dario had to acquire nautical charts for the area and with help from Navionics managed to download in Gjoa Haven. Some officers on RRS Shackleton provided Sailing Directions while anchored in Hollman. The rest information was depending on me. Difficult.
In the mean time Pachamama left Gjoa Haven on 27th August heading for Bellot. Upon common advise from Hetarios (GBR) and myself they sailed to Coningham Bay to observe Beluga Whales & Polar Bears which was spectacular. After it Pachamama rushed to Bellot despite timing set for entry. They were late and consequence was visible toward ending minutes of crossing Bellot when they made to with difficulties and fortunately good winds to Fort Ross. At least the goal was achieved by the hair length on 30th August in the morning hours.
Unfortunately their old friend Eric Brossier and family left Fort Ross sooner without waiting and they met David Cowper of Polar Bound who only on 26th August made transit of Fury & Hecla at 06:47 PDT westbound. Eric Brossier made it on 31st August.
It was somehow friendly meeting between both Pachamama and Polar Bound crew, but the request for already used nautical charts lending to Pachamama was denied by Polar Bound. Not so very sail way conduct of helping each other. To add statements of Polar Bound upon crossing Labrador Narrows of Fury and Hecla when they hardly entered Northwest Passage Mr. Cowper wrote: “Closing NW Passage Route 7 westbound DSC”. At that time they were about 28 days away from closing Route 7 westbound in Chukchi Sea! Their cruise along Gulf of Boothia was rather uneventful seeing only few icebergs. Only about two days before Labrador Narrows they have experienced some 2/10 ice that was easy to bypass.
To get back to details of Pachamama crossing Fury and Hecla, it was the total and singular success of Dario.
I gave him the timing to cross Labrador Narrows safely and misreading of messages was interpreted otherwise. In the end Pachamama got into Labrador Narrows at not so good timing with thanks to Dario’s rafting experience. They got into opposite currents where counter currents existed at the shores of Narrow. His skill went beyond any imagination to save boat and crew and thanks for short length of stretch it was over in few minutes until they reached Foxe Basin. They were reaching speeds momentary over 18kt at times unimaginable for this type of boat. All that happened on 4th September 2016.
Shortly after they landed in Igloolik on 4th September giving local Inuit the show of their life time to school students and their environment to maintain.
Their further cruise through Foxe and into Hudson Str. was monotonous and enhanced by head winds until Hudson Strait.
On 7th September 2016 Pachamama had the opportunity to celebrate again crossing Arctic Circle thus becoming first sail boat to make, never before achieved, full transit of route 7 of Northwest Passage through Fury&Hecla.
In Hudson Strait for 2 days they stopped at Cape Dorset, again learning from the Inuit and teaching how to maintain own local environment properly.
Hudson Str. is known for its easterly opposite winds and mixed tidal currents and this time was a repeat.
When they reached Button Islands the currents were reaching well over 12kt either way. Getting into east Labrador Shore safely was not an easy task.
The labyrinth of thousands of small islands and underwater rocks is unimaginable and yet sailors like Eric Brossier gave positive example to Pachamama and addition of another sail boat Caledonia (GER) who sailed NWP through Pond Inlet down Baffin Is. east coast south.
My own after it involvement with their boat was merely conducting follow up to provide weather reports daily. They stopped at good few places in Labrador discovering its past. After Labrador they sailed to St. Anthony to pick up from Post Office, the replacement auto pilot and using Strait of Belle Isle, headed into Gulf of St. Lawrence. Stopped in Baddeck, Nova Scotia to visit Celtic Festival.
Here a sequence of their blog when they closed the new route 7 on the 7th of September:
“Global warming allows new Northwest Passage Route and demonstrates the alarming lost of sea ice in the Arctic:…We are the first sailing boat to sail the Northwest Passage going through Fury and Hecla Strait into Foxe Basin opening the shortest NWP route, covering 3076nm in 34 days. Technically the distance would be shorter, but we had to tack against the wind from time to time. We used all kinds of sails: from the genaker sail in light winds to the storm sail in a steady 50 knots blow. Our autopilot stopped working in Nome Alaska, so we had to helm through the NWP exposed to the weather and cold. We were challenged by sea ice only at Cape Barrow and the Fury&Hecla Strait. It is a totally different environment than to Sir Franklin’s time. We used 700l of fresh water since we were able to get water last time in Nome, Alaska. 34 days with 10 people on board, that makes 2.0l of water per person per day for drinking, cooking and washing up. We also used one liter of diesel per day and person mainly for heating and maneuvers in anchorages. This was possible, because we used mainly sea water for all the washing up and put extra layers of clothing on to keep warm. We did most of our food provisioning in Hawaii, 2.5 months ago. Here a little overview of the fresh food we still have on board: 1 basil plant (with us since San Diego & alive due to its prime spot in the crew’s heads), 4 lemons, 10 limes, 1 orange (these fruits all survived due to being wrapped in aluminum), 2 apples, 2 cabbages (kept in the dark so they keep long), 1 coconut. We met 1200 students in the Arctic with our TOPtoTOP program to inspire young people for sport and the environment. On the way we collected impacts of climate change, good climate solutions and data for the IPRC and the ASC. We have now many new friends in the Arctic, who adopted us in their families. 8 month old Mia might be the youngest sailor to transit the Northwest Passage?! We saw a total of 12 polar bears. The closest was 10 m from the boat. We saw a lot of wildlife, manly belugas, gray whales, bowhead whales and different seals, such as ring seals and birds from guillemots to Arctic terns to fulmars to jaegers to name but a select few. We crossed the Arctic Circle in the Chukchi Sea at N066.33 W168.21 going North on the 5th of August 2016 and crossed it again going South on the 7th of September 2016 at N66.33 W079.28. Since our last major stop in Hawaii, we did 6376nm, which took us 80 days, 61 of those days were at sea. The other 19 days we spent on land, mainly to visit schools in remote villages in the Arctic. Our most southerly point so far this year was 18S on the crossing from Mexico to Hawaii. Our most Northerly point was at Fort Ross at 72N. Till the 7th of September 2016, we covered 10’000nm in the last 5 months. A big thank you to all family, friends and supporters. Special thanks to Victor, Jan, Rob, Steven, Peter, Gabi and our main supporter Victorinox.”
Now, that is 13 October 2016 about to conclude their crossing in Halifax at Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in the hands of Wayne Blundell, dockmaster, my own friend.
Next they sail to the Collage of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA to deliver their water samples from the Northwest Passage to analyze micro plastic. In November they are in Boston.
Many thanks Victor for providing weather and ice information while we were in the Arctic and summarizing our time in this interesting report.
Liverpool from the 16-19.10.2016:
We had a great time in Liverpool thanks to the hospitality of Dr. Tim Woodford and Sharon Getson. They organized the talk at the Theatre:
Many thanks also to Natalie McMaster from Green School Nova Scotia for being a green ambassador and example for the students and to help organizing our school events.
Here some pictures from the elementary school on the 18th of October:
Here some pictures from the high school on the 19th of October:
It is Wednesday the 19th. In one hour we sail to Bar Harbor, Maine where we do a lecture at the College of the Atlantic on Friday afternoon.
I woke up on the 16 th of October and we were just sailing in to Brooklyn .Suddenly, I remembered that l still had to put my presents out for Dad on the table. Birthday card and some sparkling water. Before opening the presents we ate breakfast. After all that we went to shore and met friends from friends. They drove us to a walk where we could get our energy off. After awhile we were at the place where they dropped us off. We played tag for some minutes until they came to get us again. They drove us to their house to have lunch and celebrate Dad’s birthday party.
Mia was so happy to see the cats and chase them around the living room. When she squealed, they ran for it!
We ate hamburgers and roasted potatoes, my favorite! Finally, it was time to eat cake and ice cream! (For us to eat ice cream was very unusual.) My Dad also had a hard treasure hunt where he had to tell us all of his birthdays until 48.
Later, Andri and I had a wrestle and of course I won! But we did a bet that in two years he would be stronger than me, but I do not believe that. In the evening, we sadly had to go back to the boat.
I wanted to wrestle with Salina. And I promised Salina that I’m gonna win in 2 years. Today we saw deer poop. It was not warm. They ate some vegetables. We came in to eat cake. I wish it was my birthday. And it’s soon! It is on October 25 !!!!
Yesterday we ate chocolate cake for dads birthday. lt was yummy! Noé
We sailed to Liverpool. 😍😀😳😁😜😛
We ate ice cream.
We played with the cats
I joined the Schwoerer’s Saturday evening for the sail down here to Liverpool, Nova Scotia. We had a beautiful night, with the full, super moon, and gentle winds. I have never been seasick before, but then again, I have never sailed overnight…
So, after finishing a delicious supper we were given our night shift schedule; mine was to be midnight until 2am. I was both excited and nervous. For as far as they have travelled, I did not want to be the one to put them in danger!
Somewhere near Sambro, the combination of using the windowless “head” and the motion of the sea, left me feeling queazy. I ran for the deck, as they have never in 16 years, had anyone get sick inside, and ‘lost my guts’.
Feeling much better, I had a quick lesson on the navigation equipment before snuggling into my sleeping bag for my pre-shift nap.
I woke to calm waters and slow winds that pushed us along at around 3 knots. My shift was wonderfully uneventful, as Christina and Sabine hung up balloons and birthday signs for the party the next day.
I slept soundly that night, as the waves rocked me to sleep.
I awoke to an amazing sunrise and was relieved from my morning shift to take pictures. I even climbed the mast to get a better view! It was awesome! We moored in Brooklyn where we had breakfast on board, before packing up for the day’s adventures in Liverpool!
All ten of us: 5 kids, 2 parents, 2 teachers, and a PhD student, with our bags for the day, and a birthday cake, piled onto their dingy, and paddled to shore.
We met Dr. Tim Woodfort Last and his wife, Sharron, who dropped us off for a beautiful fall hike, before bringing us back to their home.
The kids were so excited to find out they had 2 rescue cats, one only a 4 month old kitten, and had so much fun playing with them all afternoon. Even Mia, squealed with delight every time they ran past.
It was a great day, making new friends and eating cake and ice cream! (A rare and exciting treat for the Schwoerer family.)
Exhausted from all the excitement of the day, we paddled back to our home on the sea. Before getting into bed, Salina played some of her favourite songs and Dario and Sabine danced around the cabin, while the kids laughed and played with the balloons.
I feel very fortunate to have met this wonderful, loving, ADVENTUROUS family, who didn’t think twice when inviting me along for the weekend.
And who knows, maybe I’ll see them again…!
14th and 15th October by Dario:
Thursday afternoon we docked at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and went for a hike. It was fun for all to be once again in a city and to meet SY Caledonia with Juergen and Claudia again.
The next morning we had an early move and sailed to a dock of an Oceanographer. The idea was that we would be in working distance of the University. Unfortunately, his dock was too small and it was too shallow.
Back at the Squadron two TV stations came along. Alexa, from Global news, gave Dario a lift to the Dalhousie University and followed us around the rest of the day. Many thanks to marine biologist Mirjam Wirz-Held who organized the talk at the University and TV stations. She wrote as a note:
“Explore. Inspire. Act. Today I had the great pleasure to welcome Dario Schwörer from the TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition to Dalhousie University. During his captivating talk he let the audience share in the highlights and challenges from the past 16 years of sailing the seven seas and cycling inland to climb the highest peaks on each continent by wind and muscle power alone. The main goal of the expedition is to explore and collect commendable examples of how renewable energies can replace conventional engines so frequently used to help with everyday tasks. There is no doubt Dario and his family/crew are very passionate about their project and we were all inspired to do our fair share to protect the planet. Thank you for reminding us that change starts with each of us!”
Thank you to Alexa for the wonderful interview. Here the link to one of the TV reports.
In the evening Amanda, who is the daughter of Mike, who is a highly skilled mechanic and does some repairs on Caledonia, showed us the waterfront of Halifax. Our kids were excited about the playground in front of the maritime museum.
Amanda worked in Natuashish, Labrador a couple of years ago near where we had visited the “ghost town” of Davis Inlet. The people were relocated to Natuashish because of health concerns with the lack of indoor plumbing and running water.
On Saturday morning we went to the Seaport Farmers Market for fresh vegetables and fruit, before we gave another talk to the young sailors of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. After the presentation, all the kids climbed all over the boat and we had many visitors. During this playful exploration, a piece of plastic garbage fell into the water. Andri, being ever conscious of the damaging effects of plastic in our waters, jumped into the mid-October water, grabbed the plastic, and swam back to the dock where the crowds applauded his heroic bravery!
Andrea, from Dalhousie University, who is working towards her PhD in Marine Ecology, was interested in our conservation ideas and joined us on our sail down to Liverpool.
With Andrea and Amanda on board, making our crew now 10, we cleared the dock and sailed away towards the sunset with the full moon just rising over the horizon.
Our cell phone works again: +1 415 516 36 79
Please note: Our gofoundme page is now working. Please check it out: https://www.gofundme.com/2gb7d6c
Best high resolution pictures: