Cornwall Island and Heavy Seas

We headed around the east side of Cornwall Island to see how high we could climb. We made it to 75 degrees when the ice surrounded the boat. It was amazing to be surrounded by new forming ice but we new at this point that we couldn’t keep heading north. Fortrus was digging a perfect channel through the Ice. We did a few turns and made some cool designs in the ice. The Scout was riding in a trench of water with ice on both sides. Amazing…

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

We headed south down Prince Regent inlet and got into some pretty heavy weather. The winds were gusting from the North at over 50 knots. The boat handled the stern seas of 5 to 7 feet with no problems at all. The Scout was doing some pretty impressive surfing. We think that it might have gotten barreled a few times.

We tried to anchor around Fort Ross but the wind was too much. We contacted the coast guard and together we agreed to shoot through the Bellot Straights. We ran into 7knots of current as we went through the narrows. Our speed dropped to less than 2 knots over the ground.

We knew that we would be running into some pretty serious ice once we got to the other side. The wind decided to drop off as we entered into the ice fields. The first wave of ice was pretty easy. It was around 3/10th of concentration. We knew that the second wave was going to be between 4/10th and 5/10th.

The ice in the second field got pretty thick so thought that it would be a good idea to put the jetskies in the water and have some fun. The guests and crew all jumped and floated around on chunks of Ice. The jet skies aired over a few icebergs and Sam decided to swim around the ice in a dry suit. We almost lost Notti as he floated away on a small piece of Ice. Sam rescued him on a Jet ski.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Michael Power.

Once we were done playing around, we needed to punch through some heavy ice before making it into open water. Some of the bergs stopped Fortrus completely in her tracks. The Steel hull thumped against the ice so hard that people almost fell over on deck. It was pretty scary but we don’t have any salt water coming in. That’s a good thing.

We made it through and are now off to Cambridge Bay. The wind is a steady 28 knots and to seas are 4 to 6 on the nose, pretty bumpy weather but we need to bang out some more miles.

Photo by Jacob McDonald.


The trip across the northern Labrador Sea couldn’t have gone any smoother. The smiles and excitement from seeing a polar bear lasted the two days of the crossing.

Crossing the Labrador Sea. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

The fog lifted as we arrived into the Pond Inlet channel and the day became absolutely beautiful and sunny. Fortrus was surrounded by mountains covered in glaciers as she cruised into Pond Inlet.

Fog over the montains: Photo by Erik Aubry

Fog lifting. Photo by Erik Aubry

Entering Pond Inlet. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

We cleared into Canadian customs and had a little walkaround town. We got to see our first Narwhal tooth. Unbelievable to imagine how big these animals must be.

Village of Pond Inlet. Population 1,315. Photo by Melanie Waugh

Fortrus will make her way west through some small icebergs tonight where she will anchor off Bruce Head in the attempt to find the illusive Narwhal. This spot hosts many different species of sea mammals. We will spend the day here, do a little fishing and maybe go ashore for a hike up a mountain.


Clearing the Straits of Belle Isle

We’ve now cleared the Straights of Belle Isle. Looks like we just made it through in time. Twenty four hours from now brings 35 knot winds and short 12 ft seas.

We’re heading into some serious fog as we start our three day trek across the Labrador Sea. The winds are 25 knots and the seas are starting to freshen up. The big wind and bumps should stay behind us. We’ve got a little current running so we’ll only be able to average 8 knots till we reach the warm northern current that runs north along the west coast of Greenland. We’re hoping for a blistering 10 knots close to the shore.

The outside air temperature is down to 52 degrees and the water temp has dropped into the low sixties.

The whales and dophins have been all around us. Absolutely amazing…

We are not expecting to see another boat for the next three days. The coast of Greenland will be a welcome sight.

Photo by: Erik Aubry coming around Newfoundland

Photo by: Erik Aubry coming around Newfoundland


Whale Spotting on the Way to Halifax

The seas have been flat calm and we had the opportunity to see more whales on the way to Halifax. This time we got to see some Humpbacks. They didn’t come too close but it’s always a welcome and exciting sight.

As usual, the fog came in thick coming around Nova Scotia. The bow completely disappeared as the fog took on the consistency of Pea Soup. The burgee pole that stands just 25ft from the bridge window was no longer visible. Fortrus had her Fog Horn sounding as we weaved through small fishing boats just a few hundred meters around us. We never even saw a light.

On the morning of August 6th, we’re hoping that the fog lifts before we start our entrance into Halifax.


Boston Harbor: Last U.S. Port Before the NW Passage

Fortrus arrived into Boston Harbor, which will be her last U.S. port of call before the NW passage. We had a great time exploring the coasts of New England and Massachusetts. Our guests for this leg of the trip were fantastic, and it was awesome to share this part of the world with such a wonderful group. The greatest highlight of the trip was beautiful flat calm seas that hosted a pod of twenty plus Minke whales. One curious whale swam thirty feet off the port side of Fortrus as we headed north to Provincetown. Michael’s food and the girl’s interiors service made our guests very reluctant to depart Fortrus in Boston. We will definitely miss this group and will try our best to bump into them again once we make it across to the west coast.

With Michael’s food and the girl’s interior services, guests are reluctant to depart Fortrus.
Photo by: Natasha Kovalenko

We now have 370NM between Fortrus and Halifax Canada. That’s where we will spend some time provisioning and getting ready for the north. We will acquire a new freezer that will fit up on the sundeck. This will help Michael with the massive job of provisioning Fortrus for the ride across the Arctic. It will have a secondary purpose of becoming a cold garbage locker once the provisioning has been depleted. We will be removing our dirty oil and taking on clean lube. Fortrus will also be fully toped up with northern diesel to handle the trip. We will definitely have a few very busy days in Halifax, nothing that a few poutines and some Timmy’s will get us through.

Erik, Levi and Scott: testing the sun deck driving station as they leave Boston Harbor.
Photo by: Natasha Kovalenko


Ice Reports

These are the Canadian Ice reports that we will be looking at daily in order to navigate safely through the passage.
I’ve attached charts from June 29th and July 29th to illustrate how the ice recedes. The warmer currents run north up the coast of Greenland and the the colder currents run south down Baffin Island. We will be running up the coast of Greenland before crossing back over to Pond Inlet. 
 
The smaller localized charts give much more detail. Non Ice class vessels like Fortrus can safely navigate in the green areas or 3/10th concentration. 
 
You can upload these charts at: http://ice-glaces.ec.gc.ca
 
We needed to stock up on paper charts as well, so we purchased just over 700 charts for the trip. Admiralty charts for the east coast, Danish Charts for Greenland and U.S. Charts for Alaska. We also made some upgrades to Fortrus by adding VSAT, Iridium, I/R Cameras and a Gyro. We completely serviced all machinery, navigation equipment and stocked up on spare parts and tools.  Additionally, we added a large garbage locker and a gas tank for the tenders, because of the time and distance between stops.  All the crew worked overtime to get the boat ready for this trip.
 
Steve Hubbart from M/Y Indigo sat down with myself and the crew on several occasions to talk about his trip. Steve safely navigated the passage in 2011. He gave us much needed guidance.

Traversing through NYC

After a crazy trip, the guests all flew out of New York on Saturday. Our guests were all great and we had a fantastic time with them!  Fortrus said goodbye to New York City on the 22nd of July. Melanie and the crew were all on deck for a beautiful clear departure. The city looked spectacular.   Natasha rode with Charlie in the Scout to take some photos of Fortrus as she cruised away from the city.
 
We took the East river into Long Island sound. The seas were flat and the scenery was beautiful all the way into Newport.  Michael is taking advantage of being in Newport by finalizing a lot of the provisioning needed to do the passage.  Erik took care of all the last minute preparations in the engine room. We are now ready to hit the cold climate.
 
…Next stop will be Boston!