Rae Strait

Things have been going well since Peel sound. Half way down Peel I came across a massive number of seals, birds and narwhals (Peel sound marine party). I’ve been seeing a lot of seals since Lancaster sound, they keep there distance so its hard to get a good picture. Sometimes one will appear right by the boat but it disappears before I can turn the camera on. In Peel sound there were literally hundreds of them. Some swiming in groups chasing fish, some just doing there own thing. At any given time there was 10 or more sticking there little heads out the water staring at me. They look like little prairie dogs sticking their heads out of the ground. There are so many seals in the Northwest Passage that I’ve been afraid to fish because I don’t want to accidentally catch one. The narwhals didn’t seem to pay any attention to my boat, they would swim right by like they had no care in the world. I must of seen at least 50 of them, it went on like this for miles. I can believe I’ve actually seen a narwhal!
The winds have been light since Peel sound and I’ve had to motor sail most of the way down. My Volvo Penta has a hard time starting in this cold environment but once its running it runs like a champ. My timing has been perfect and I’ve been able to clear the worst of the ice with relative ease. There was one patch of pack ice running about 10 miles north to south but I was able to find a ice free corridor about a quarter mile wide and I shot threw the pack ice with no problems. Its been a warm summer up here. I was colder in Baffin bay, with temperatures reaching near freezing. The last four days I’ve had 50-60 degree (13-16c) weather, which is nice for me but terrible for the Arctic. I have a bad feeling that if things stay this way the Arctic is going to be decimated in the next 15 years or so and its going to effect us all. Scientists are all ready noticing some differences in weather patterns south of the Arctic and if all the ice were to melt you could say good bye to New York City (for starters) .
Enough doom and gloom. I’m in a part of the passage thats rich with history, only a few miles from here Amundsen spent a winter in the ice during his 1903-1905 journey. Not to far from here is where Franklin’s expedition went horribly wrong and around 130 people died. This is where east meets west, the missing part of the puzzle that eluded so many early explorers. I don’t know how the early explorers made it anywhere. My compass has been useless for the last 20 days. It always wants to point to the south no matter which way I head. There is so much fog that a sextant would be of little use. They had no motor, bad charts, and no idea which which way to go in this maze of the Canadian archipelago. I have all the respect in the world for these men.
Mike “da web masta” McLinn has figured out some crazy way that I can take a picture of a picture and send it as a much smaller file. So I’ve been able to send good pics. Its a relief for me, I want you all to be able to see the pics that go with the story. Well, the wind is picking up and I need to change my sails, so until next time.


21 thoughts on “Rae Strait”

  1. Tuesday, August 16th 1:20 AM (DST)

    Really great pictures, Matt!

    A big thank you to Mike for figuring out a way to include them here in your updates!!! It must be good to have some “company” to watch, rather than just staring through the fog, or even the opposite conditions of the having the glare off the water and ice when the sun is bright . . . so, enjoy the antics of your visiting seals, birds, and . . . wow, even narwhals, that’s amazing!!

    I can see why you’re reluctant to put out a fishing line . . . it would be unfortunate if you did get a seal on the end of it. Hope you’re not “having” to fish right now, and that you have plenty of food on board!

    I’m worried about your lack of a working compass, Matt . . . how are you able to navigate through what to me looks like a real maze? Are your charts so detailed that it’s making it possible to identify where you are, and where you need to head next? I know there are no signs pointing the way through . . . and from your vantage point on the boat, you can’t really make out the shapes of the many islands, like we can when following you using the satellite maps.

    I also wonder if you get much in the way of darkness during this time of the year . . . or is there enough ambient light even at night to light your way. I guess the white of the icebergs must help “light things up” for you, so at least it would be easier to see them at night.

    Since you don’t have radar, it helps that it’s not so bitter cold . . . freezing temps would be making it miserable when you have to be topside so much of the time!

    Thanks, for today’s “Rae Strait” update, and for the beautiful batch of photographs! Your written descriptions are like “mind pictures” too!! You’re doing a great job, and we’re all enjoying “tagging along”!!

    Godspeed, Matt!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

    Passing Cambridge Bay during your solo Around the Americas in the Northwest Passage portion of your voyage is an amazing accomplishment – you are also the first boat through the Passage this season – CONGRATULATIONS!

    Go Matt go !

    Smooth seas,

  3. Sounds like the passage is going ok. Keep the pictures coming, they really help illustrate what it is like where you are currently. One suggestion (i guess for Mike), you should really add a map to track where you have been, where you are going, and where you are now. I have to admit that my knowledge of the Arctic geography is a bit lacking and a map would help follow your progress. Just a thought.

    -Liz in San Diego

    1. Liz, If you zoom out on the map at the upper-right hand side of the site where you see Matt’s tracking, you will see where he’s at and where he’s been. The map on the left shows where he is going. Are you able to see that map that says, “Current position”? – Sharon

      1. Thanks. Just saw it. For some reason the map wasn’t loading on my computer and I couldn’t see it.

  4. Hi Matt, I am a friend of Josh Brankman (through Outward Bound) and he gave me your website. I am going out of the NW Passage on the Clipper Adventurer through Adventure Canada leaving Sept. 1 from Kugluktuk (Coppermine) It’s a 100 passenger ship so our adventure will be nothing like yours! I’m wondering what the night time temperature is. I’d love to sleep outdoors assuming good weather and clear skies. I’ve had great fun following your trip. The photos are great! Thanks, Rozanne

  5. Dear Matt,

    What an amazing blog. THANK YOU I can almost smell the fresh air. I am sooo jealous that you have seen at least 50 narwhal’s. There was a great program about them in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. Wow… I would love an opportunity to travel the NWP as you are doing. Stay safe and thanks again for including us on your fantastic adventure.

  6. Matt,

    Thanks for this blog and great pictures. I am hoping to make this trip too someday soon but in the opposite direction. About half the adventurers going west to east and the other half the other way. I would be curious to know why you chose east to west.

    Good luck getting through the toughest parts soon.


  7. Hey Matt,
    5.1 kts not to bad considering… It is painful to see up close global warming but there is hope. Narwhal has not been a part of my vocabulary however, thank you for seeing narwhals. I googled “narwhal” and National Geographic calls them the unicorns of the sea which is pretty cool. Several sailing clubs are getting together at East Port Yacht Club this weekend and I am certain that your sailing adventure and accomplishments will be one of the topics of discussion. God speed. Fair winds and following seas.

  8. Matt,
    Looks like you’re making progress now. The pictures are beautiful.
    The West River Sailing Club wishes you well.
    – Mick

  9. Hi Matt,

    What beautiful scenery! I’m very happy to hear about all the wildlife. It’s sad about all the melting of the bergs, though. I just read another politician’s statement that he “did not believe in global warming”. I think the evidence is pretty clear as you are reporting. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!
    Karol Harlan

  10. Matt – I am one of Mrs. Mac’s students from last year and my family has been tracking your trip on the internet. I like the pictures of the icebergs very much. I wish you good luck on the rest of the trip. It is very hot here in Texas so you should enjoy how cool it is where you are.

    1. FYI: Vivian is starting 4th grade. She and many other students & staff at River Ridge Elementary in Austin, Texas, are following Matt’s voyage.

      My fifth graders will be plotting Matt’s longitude and latitude points in their social studies journals. We will, also, celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th!

      Mom/Marlowe Macintyre

  11. Hiya Matt,

    You are so near to clearing past Banks Island and into the Beaufort Sea.

    I read back through your blogs from the struggles to gain sponsorship, to acquiring St. Brendan and prepping her for the trip. What challenges you have overcome, with many more ahead.

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful [wo]men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnioptent.”
    – Calvin Coolidge

    Annapolis, MD

  12. Your progress looks great. Thanks for sharing your voyage.
    West Marine 41

  13. So glad to see you taking advantage of the easterly winds.. keep a sharp eye out for a yellow motor boat POLAR BOUND (David Scott Cowper) attempting a West to East NW Passage (fourth time) – last reported position about 5miles SW from Cape Parry in Booth Island anchorage. Also ahead of you are the USCGC Healy and the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.


  14. I have a question about the first picture under the heading “Rae Strait”. Its the one of an ice burg that appears to have relative straight shadow lines both vertical and horizontal across the ice. It appears that the lines that are more horizontal are layers of sediment while the vertical is the mast of the boat? Can anyone explain these lines?

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