By KAREN WELLS The Pilot LEWISPORTE — Lewisporte Harbour is the launch point for an expedition that could see a first in Arctic Ocean exploration. A sailing team is setting out from Lewisporte in an attempt to be the first to make it through a new route in the Northwest Passage. They will be deviating from the traditional southern route for a more northern one that will see them attempting to sail through a critical point in McClure Strait, where the McClure Expedition of 1850-54 saw their vessel the Investigator stuck and crushed. The Pilot spoke with team members (both in their early 30's) Nicolas Peissel of Montreal and Edvin Buregren of Sweden about the upcoming expedition plans and preparations. Their research indicates that only an icebreaker (which they differ on opinion of the origin of the vessel being Canadian or Russian) has gone over the McClure Strait. “That was done from west to east, but that’s the only recorded boat that’s gone through there,” said Mr. Peissel. “No one has ever gone that route east to west, nor in any sort of pleasure craft. “If we complete the entire route we are planning — then nobody’s ever gone that route to date.” Their mode of transportation is a 31-foot sailboat, Belzebub II. Last year they sailed from Sweden to Scotland, to Iceland and then Greenland “playing in the ice”, testing the boat out and giving them an idea of what changes were needed to prepare it for the 2012 expedition. One of the first things noted was the need to cap the bow of the fiberglass boat with some kind of stainless steel structure for extra protection. “Normally when people go up north they go in steel boats because it takes on the ice much better than plastic,” said Mr. Buregren. They will also have a sealed compartment in the front of the boat that in the event of a puncture, that area of the boat won’t sink. In addition, they are looking at having a prop cage put around the propeller to protect it from ice. No regrets The team took the boat across the Atlantic last summer to the Lewisporte Marina. They decided on Lewisporte after doing some research and hearing a glowing review of the marina from another Swedish sailor. “He said to come here to Lewisporte because it has everything you need, especially in terms of the Yacht Club,” said Mr. Peissel. “We have access to the kitchen, all the amenities, the yard, people like Peter Watkins, and others who have loaned us tools. “Even the guy at the marine store opens up for us when they are closed. Everyone has kind of bent over backwards for us, so we couldn’t imagine for a better place. Lewisporte has treated us very, very well.” Mr. Buregren added, “We haven’t regretted the decision to come here one bit.” Having arrived with Belezub II at the end of last summer, the sailboat was put into storage at the local marina over the winter and it was two weeks ago that the sailors were reunited with the boat and work began to prepare it for the upcoming journey. In doing their work the men have availed of the expertise of people from the area such as a skilled welder.
A Passage Through Ice
Nicolas Peissel and Edvin Buregren have been busy making modifications to their sailboat at the Lewisporte Marina in preparing for their Arctic expedition.
Arctic expedition setting out from Lewisporte
LEWISPORTE — Lewisporte Harbour is the launch point for an expedition that could see a first in Arctic Ocean exploration.
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