Finally home, ready for Mexico.

We departed Seattle on the 15th of October. We knew that the trip would be a little bumpy but we needed to more because the fronts just keep coming in the North West this time of the year.

The first two days were rough but the seas calmed right down by the time we were south of Oregon.

We arrived into San Diego on the 21st of October.

The crew is anxious to have some much needed time off and the boat is looking forward to some extensive TLC.

Next Stop Mexico…


Glaciers and last minute stops

We cruised through Glacier Bay and into Juneau. We definitely arrived late in the season. We are the only yacht or cruise ship here. It’s nice to walk the shops in Juneau without having all the crowds. The stores were happy to see some last minute crew spending some money.

We left Juneau on the 5th of October and started to cruise south the Ketchikan. Our first stop was Tracey Arm. The fog was thick as we approached the entrance. We were nervous because this was our only day to experience the arm. Five minutes up, the fog decided to lift. The sun came out and the conditions were perfect. The ice was super concentrated but we pushed our way all the way to north Sawyer. We were moving chunks bigger than Volkswagens.  It has been 6 years since I’ve been to Tracey Arm and it was scary to see how far the glacier has receded.  We drove almost half a mile off our electronic chart to get close to the glacier. A massive chunk fell off the glacier and sent a 6ft swell throughout the bay. It was unbelievable. A few brave souls jump in the freezing water and Charlie paddled his way out through the ice. We had an amazing day.

We steamed over night to arrive in Petersburg the next morning in order to meet our pilot to take us through the Wrangle Narrows. The fog was super thick so we needed to wait for an hour in order for the float plane to land. Once we got through the narrows, we headed straight for Annan National park. The weather was stunning and we took a beautiful walk through the forest.

We arrived late that night into Ketchikan. Once again we were the only boat in town. A few of the shops were closed but all the locally owned stores stay open. They’re the best shops for any type of authentic art or souvenirs.

We departed Ketchikan on the 10th to head south to San Diego. The weather had a different idea and we ended up pulling over in Seattle.

We spent two nights in Seattle. It’s always a great stop on the west coast.

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Looks like the weather will be slowing down a little bit and we should be able to squeeze through some fronts on the 15th.

Next Stop San Diego.

Sea Creatures

We decided to do one last night at anchor in Kodiak before heading across the gulf. It ended up being an awesome decision.

Sea Otters

Sea Otter. Photo taken by Michael Power.

We cruised around the east side of the island and found a massive group of sea otters. They were super curious and a couple of them swam right up to the boat.

A few hours later we spotted some whales about 5 miles away from the boat. None of us have ever seen such big sprays. Fortrus drifted around for a while as the whales came closer. They were enormous. One decided to say hello by surfacing just a few feet off the bow. They were Blue Whales and absolutely incredible.

We are half way across the gulf right now and should be arriving in Glacier Bay tomorrow.

Let’s hope that our experience over in the southeast is as amazing as our time in Kodiak.

Group of Sea Otters

Group of Sea Otters. Photo taken by Paul McDonald.


Whales. Photo taken by Erik Aubry.


Whale. Photo taken by Eric Aubry.

We completed the Northwest Passage!

We departed Cambridge Bay on the 8th of September. The seas were calm all the way into Tuktoyaktuk. We stopped for just enough time to take on some fuel to keep on moving.

Powering thru the waves.

We punched through the first rough weather just west of Point Barrow. We ran into a short 7 ft on the nose. We took a left hand turnaround Port Hope and hugged the coast for ten hours to avoid some strong northerlies.  We took a straight line from there to the Bering Straights. We knew that it would be rough but the predictions were much better than what we encountered.
Fortrus ended up having to ride 15ft waves that backed around from the starboard side all the way to the bow. We punched through seas for over 20 hours with winds gusting to 60 knots.
On September 16th, we made it through the Bering Straights to complete the Northwest Passage.
We’ve had some spectacular Northern lights along the way. It was tough to get good photos with the boat moving around so much.
We are hoping to make it straight through to Juneau however a few gales south of the Aleutians are trying to prevent us from getting all the way to the southeast. We might have to stop in Dutch…

Dragging the Scout thru heavy seas.

Cambridge Bay

Due to some weather, we decided to stay in Cambridge Bay for a few extra days. Levi and Charlie took the guests fishing up a fresh watercreek. They pulled in some good fish and had a great time.  They met a retired local named Jimmy and made arrangements to meet up with him the next day.

Quads alongside Fortrus. Photo by Stephen McDonald.

Photo by Stephen McDonald.

Jimmy came by the boat and took us to meet his sister and brother in-law who rented us some quads and a truck. We followed Jimmy up to Mount Pelee. The weather was fantastic and the ride was super fun. A few of us ran up the mountain and Jacob spotted a small herd of Muskox.  Steve got some amazing video of the herd running strait down at him.  We were lucky enough to get some great pictures right up close to these wild creatures. Amazing… On the way back we found a weasel and also pulled in some Arctic Char with Jimmy.

Muskox. Photo by Michael Power.

Photo by Michael Power.

The people of Cambridge Bay have been very helpful and Fortrus is now fully provisioned for the next leg of it’s journey. We tried to fuel while we were here but due to ice the town’s delivery of winter fuel is late and they can’t afford to deplete their supplies any more.

Weasel. Photo by Michael Power.

We all had a very memorable time in Cambridge Bay….

Next Stop, Tuktoyaktuk.

Trick photography!  Photo by Michael Power.

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.

Artic Circle with the Boys

Paul and the Boys made it to Nuuk. They are onboard and drinking some whiskey. We decided to head out immediately. At 13:30 on Aug 21st, Fortrus crossed over into the Arctic Circle.

Fortrus & the Burg: Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

As we circled around Disko Island, we saw some fantastic icebergs that stand hundreds of feet in the air. They are absolutely unbelievable. The photo’s are flying.

Paul & the Boys: Photo by Michael Power

The trip with the boys has already been adventurous. Today we tried to make it into Ilulissat harbor. As we edged our way in, there was far too much ice and we had to turn back.  Chucks of ice the size of volkswagen’s were banging off our bow. The noise of the ice bouncing off Fortrus was enough for us to turn around. We were still nine miles from the harbor when the decision was made to turn back. The ice was much thicker ahead.
We are now heading another 220NM north to Upernavik. We’ll take on some fuel there before turning left and crossing to Pond Inlet.
Hopefully we’ll have better luck getting in there.

Ice Sculpture. Photo by Charles Howden