Summer 2010 : a turning point in Arctic history
Published on 27.09.2010 - The Northern Passage 2010
This summer of 2010 will have marked the history of the Arctic regions’ environment: for the first time indeed, two boats will have succeeded in going round the Arctic Ocean in a single season, without being blocked or trapped by the ice.
For the First Time
We have just followed (and are still following) the circumnavigation of Børge Ousland’s trimaran, “The Northern Passage”; the latter is heading down along the west coast of Greenland and will soon be attacking the Atlantic crossing.
Although the Norwegian’s adventure is not yet finished, it can already be said that he has won his bet - which was to go round the Arctic Ocean in a single season. If you refer to our last update, you will undoubtedly have remembered that about a hundred years ago (which is nothing in terms of climatology), the famous Roald Amundsen accomplished the same feat but that it took him three years to do so.
Admittedly, there was in that historical expedition (he was the first to go through the North-West Passage) some unforced wintering - Amundsen indeed wishing to make his modest contribution to scientific development. But if the latter took so much time, it was because his ship was also often trapped by ice. That is in any case what history has retained.
Just as the same history of the Arctic will henceforth retain that it was during the summer of 2010 that a boat will have succeeded, for the first time, in going round the Arctic coasts in a single summer and without being, this time, really blocked by the slightest piece of drifting pack ice, or by the slightest ice floe.
The most astonishing thing in this piece of history is that another boat, a single-hull this time, the Russian yacht Peter the 1st, has pulled off the same feat, accomplished the same navigation. Skippered by a certain Daniel Gavrilov and operated by seven other crew members, including an eighteen-year-old girl (all below 25 years), the yacht left St Petersburg on 04 June and set out on the adventure nineteen days before Ousland therefore. After encountering the Norwegian trimaran on several occasions (during their respective stopovers, of course), Peter the 1st entered Lancaster Sound (which is regarded as the North-West Passage’s exit channel) on 20 September, a few days before the trimaran, The Northern Passage.
The Russians and the Norwegians have performed the same navigation, and they have followed the same course. Both crews were helped by Arctic Region meteorological specialists.
In Russia, the official news agencies announced this feat with considerable media fanfare. They considered this feat to be an additional stage in the desire for supremacy over the Arctic territorial waters, and even beyond, which the motherland still harbours. To follow the end of this adventure (they’re expected in St Petersburg towards the middle of November), click here.