The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Arctic Voyage Milestones


Here are a few milestones that we have experienced in the last month:

First Tree

Trees are for me, like most of us I suspect, something I just take for granted. That is until I have not seen one for over two months. We saw our first stunted spruce just north of Nain on the Labrador coast a month ago and they looked just wonderful. And the smell of spruce on the wind…divine.


But the really cool thing about trees is how they break the wind. Something you don’t really realize until you have been anchored in the lee of a barren rock mountain as gusts howl down on you unimpeded by trees.

Out Of Bergy Water

We were sailing in water with ice in it for three months, and the strain of staring at the sea for hours on end looking for that growler that could sink us, hiding in the white-caps, was beginning to wear. I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to go below while on watch to make a cup of tea without having to worry.


That’s Hannah Gray in the photo, our crew from Greenland to Labrador, who did all of her share of ice watches plus much of mine (as did Phyllis) while I contrived to have some pressing “skipper duty”. Oh, and the way Hannah is dressed indicates a warm day.

Crossed Our Outbound Track


About two weeks ago we completed our circumnavigation of Davis Strait by crossing our outbound track in the Straits of Belle Isle. It feels great to have accomplished what we set out to do without any major drama.

A Door Into Summer

After spending the entire summer wearing long underwear (not the same pair, I’m glad to say) as the first of many clothing layers topped off by full foul weather gear, or even an anti-exposure suit, stripping it all off (OK, not quite all) as we entered the warm micro-climate of the Bras d’Or Lakes, was heaven.

Back At Base Camp


Yesterday we arrived back at our “Base Camp” in Nova Scotia, 110 days, 7000 nautical miles, and 60 degrees of latitude (30 up and 30 back) after leaving it.

And if you are wondering what the first photograph signifies, it is to remind us of why we go north, despite the challenges.

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John and Phyllis (and Hannah), Well done on your extremely interesting and challenging voyage. It’s been a real pleasure to read and see your expedition unfolding. The wonderful photographs of seas, mountains and people certainly make us wish we’d been there too, but as your experiences testify, not a voyage to be taken without good planning, good crew and a well-tended boat.
So welcome back, and now I hope you’ll get to put your feet up for a few days to let it all sink in, and catch up with one and all who will no doubt be very pleased to see you back!

Dick T M/V Julia Bryant

On trees as a windbreak, conventional wisdom says that the windshadow extends around 7 times their height.
Transiting South along Labrador did you visit Red Bay and the Basque Museum ? We visited there on a motorcycle trip a few years ago as the Museum was just getting established after finding and raising the vessel in the Bay.

Victor Raymond

John, Phyllis and Hannah,

Extremely well done. I hope someday to follow in your footsteps coming, though, from the west coast of North America. For sure it will be hard to imitate your seamanship but reading and re-reading your most excellent website will certainly help.

David Nutt

Sounds like a fantastic trip. Hope we can get together when you are here in Maine.

conny Harlin

Fantastic to follow your cruise in Northern Latitudes. Do you consider the climate, I mean daily temperatures like North Norway?? Lofoten, Narvik or what would you compare it with over here in Scandinavia?


That first shot is awesome!!! Congratulations John!!!


Hi John! Thank you very much for your visit to our website and the kind words about our photos! I want to say thank you as well for all the great articles written here about aluminum boats . It really helped us on the process to buy our boat! Not to mention all the high latitude “stuff”, which is of great interest to us, as we aspire to sail thru these areas some day! Great, keep up the great work.

Nick Kats

John & Phyllis
This is a very impressive & memorable post.
Great pictures, including the track.


Congratulations on your fantastic trip and safe return !
It’s funny to read the part about the trees: I felt exactly the same when I put into St. Lunaire on NFL, shouting out loud (here is an advantage with singlehanding) out of pure joy about the sight and the smell. And I was only about 5 weeks in treeless areas.
All the best,

Nea Willits

Hi John and Phyllis, Well done, great photos, and Have a Happy Christmas wherever you are. We had a beautiful day the 70s until 5.3o when the temp, dropped into the 60s with wind and rain. Supposed to be a nice day tomorrow. If you ever sail back to Bermuda be sure to let me know.
With love and best wishes to you both.


Richard Elder

Hi John
The Blue Ocean—- tomorrows’ Arctic

And if someone wants to understand where the most threatening time bomb in the Arctic lies, look at the methane hydrate deposits lying in the shallow seas off the coast of Siberia. We tend to think of climate change as something that will threaten our grandchildren who might have to wear hip boots in the streets of New York, but in reality the pace of climate change in the Arctic is so rapid that it may trigger events that could completely change the face of the planet in a few decades.