Northwest Passage 1By Elizabeth Ann Kerr

My trip to the Northwest Passage started long before I boarded the flight to Kangerlussaq with visits to Eddie Bauer, North Face, SAIL, MEC and Patagonia to purchase the clothing and equipment necessary to ensure I stayed warm, dry and comfortable and able to participate in whatever the daily sojourn offered. Function ruled over fashion for the most part. It’s hard to look good when wearing seven layers of clothing.

Believe it or not, this iceberg is bigger than our ship!

After a relatively uneventful four-hour sub-charter flight from Toronto, we arrive in Kangerlussaq – population 1,000 – but, ironically, the only place in Greenland with a runway that can accommodate a Boeing 300. All passengers who wish to continue their Greenland trip by land must take a Greenland Airways flight – which lands in three destinations on the island.

I choose, yet again, to take the road less travelled and – via a black well-trodden Zodiac – I arrive at my main means of transportation over the next 17 days – the Ocean Endeavour – a 198-passenger cruise ship, which is going to take me and my fellow travellers into the Northwest Passage.

At 3:43 a.m. (local time), I saw my first iceberg through the window of my aptly-appointed cabin. It had the same effect on me as my first sighting of a giraffe on the Serengeti. Awe-inspiring. Surreal. Untouchable.

Our 17-day adventure took us through the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay along the coast of Greenland. During the first few days, we crossed the Arctic Circle – twice! Halfway through our cruise, we cross back into Canada.
Northwest Passage 2
Here we are tooling around icebergs in our Crayola-coloured gear looking for hump-backed whale.

It’s cold outside. The snow-covered mountains aren’t really that welcoming just yet. The customs officials, whose breath can be scene on Deck 7 (my deck) arrive on board to process our papers. We wait anxiously and with trepidation for the afternoon’s itinerary, which includes a visit to Aujuittuq (Grise Fiord) – Canada’s northernmost civilian community and, perhaps, a chance sighting of a polar bear.

We have settled into a routine now…despite the time changes and early (and I mean early) wake-up calls, including a weather report for the day! After a hearty buffet breakfast, we head back to don our gear for the morning’s excursion. We have been divided into seven colour-coded groups (assigned by where our cabins are located) for safety purposes and to streamline the boarding process for the more than 150 passengers and crew on board. Once called (by colour), we head down to the lower deck where allocated lockers with life jackets and rubber boots await.
Group Photo
Here we are with our 200 fellow passengers, experts and crew huddled on the stern of the Ocean Alexander.

In groups of ten, accompanied by a driver (who could also be a musician, documentarian, writer, naturalist, biologist or geologist), we carefully board a waiting Zodiac. The three-step process for getting in seems easier every day except, of course, when there were 10-foot swells and timing is even more critical.

Depending on the day and destination, we are out for one to four hours. This all depends on weather, the ship’s proximity to shore (if we are going to shore) and what, of course, is waiting for us to see, whether it’s a bear, a beluga whale or an Artic hare.

I think the only thing as surreal as my first iceberg siting, is the field of 10+ Zodiacs filled with Crayola-coloured outdoor gear hovering around a field of icebergs waiting for a humped back whale to appear…which it did.

Northwest Passage 4Whether a great hike along a fjord to sight a muskox or a cruise along the shore to see a polar bear or a wet landing to visit four headstones (three of which belonged to Franklin’s crew) on Beechey Island, every day was a lesson in nature’s wonders, geography, archeology, culture and history. It was much for fun than high school.

When the sun hit this iceberg, the glow was mesmerizing.

Once back at the ship, hot showers and hot lunches await us. Afternoon itineraries are usually quite loose where you can relax, mesmerized on deck (weather permitting) or continue your education provided by the many experts on board. Of course, you can also choose to workout, take a yoga class or plunge into the pool or hot tub (when open).

At 6:00 p.m. (wherever we are), passengers, experts and crew all head to the Nautilus Lounge for a recap of the day and a debrief about tomorrow (including what time we have to wake up). We hear more about what we saw, learn a Nunavit word or two and applaud the best photo of the day. Tomorrow’s proposed itinerary is also shared.

A sit-down dinner offering something for everyone’s appetite and food issues is served at 7:00 p.m. in the Polaris Lounge. Not too long after our arrival on board, we established ourselves at a lovely table near the bow of the boat and ate there most days joined by newfound friends and catered to by an extraordinary wait staff.

After dinner, the daily program continued, whether it was a movie, a singalong or even a costume party. The keeners attended everything. The wiser ones tucked in early to prepare for another day on the Northwest Passage.

 

 

Mediterranean Shakedown: A Summer Cruise in Spain

Mediterranean ShakedownBy Sheryl and Paul Shard

This summer my husband, Paul, and I bought our fourth offshore cruising boat, a new Southerly 480 built by Discovery Yachts in the UK. It’s a unique boat with a retractable variable-draft swing keel giving you the option of sailing with a deep draft of 3.1 metres when the keel is down or just less than a metre with the keel fully retracted. Southerly Yachts are great for bluewater sailing and also for gunkholing in shallow creeks and inland waterways. You can even dry them out at low tide so they are is the perfect boat for the type of exploring we like to do. Our new boat, Distant Shores III, is the third Southerly Yacht that we’ve owned over 29 years of international cruising to destinations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East, UK, Scandinavia and South America. This boat we plan to sail to the South Pacific.

Read more about the Shards' cruise in Spain...

 

Lifestyle

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Boat Reviews

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Beneteau Antares 27

Beneteau Antares 27By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You have to love it when something exceeds your expectations on so many levels; the new Antares 27 from Beneteau looks to me like that sort of all-around overachiever.

This is a brand new express cruiser design. With twin Mercury 200 V6 outboards, it delivers impressive performance, a reassuring and comfortable ride, and a level of versatility that will enable this boat to be your vacation partner for all sorts of adventures.

Read more about the Antares 27...

 

 

 

 

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read More about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

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Ask Andrew: Electrical Installations – Part 1: Electrical Connections - basics and how-to’s

Electrical InstallationsBy Andrew McDonald

Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is aboard, areas of improvement and ways to upgrade.

One of the most common jobs that I’m asked to look at are electrical installations and upgrades. Surprisingly, the majority of these types of jobs are to ‘clean up’ the wiring of years past – when electrical standards were more fluid, and jury-rigged upgrades have been added and adapted over multiple owners and contractors.

Read More about Electrical Installations Basics...

 

  

Marine Products

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