Finally home, ready for Mexico.

We departed Seattle on the 15th of October. We knew that the trip would be a little bumpy but we needed to more because the fronts just keep coming in the North West this time of the year.

The first two days were rough but the seas calmed right down by the time we were south of Oregon.

We arrived into San Diego on the 21st of October.

The crew is anxious to have some much needed time off and the boat is looking forward to some extensive TLC.

Next Stop Mexico…


Glaciers and last minute stops

We cruised through Glacier Bay and into Juneau. We definitely arrived late in the season. We are the only yacht or cruise ship here. It’s nice to walk the shops in Juneau without having all the crowds. The stores were happy to see some last minute crew spending some money.

We left Juneau on the 5th of October and started to cruise south the Ketchikan. Our first stop was Tracey Arm. The fog was thick as we approached the entrance. We were nervous because this was our only day to experience the arm. Five minutes up, the fog decided to lift. The sun came out and the conditions were perfect. The ice was super concentrated but we pushed our way all the way to north Sawyer. We were moving chunks bigger than Volkswagens.  It has been 6 years since I’ve been to Tracey Arm and it was scary to see how far the glacier has receded.  We drove almost half a mile off our electronic chart to get close to the glacier. A massive chunk fell off the glacier and sent a 6ft swell throughout the bay. It was unbelievable. A few brave souls jump in the freezing water and Charlie paddled his way out through the ice. We had an amazing day.

We steamed over night to arrive in Petersburg the next morning in order to meet our pilot to take us through the Wrangle Narrows. The fog was super thick so we needed to wait for an hour in order for the float plane to land. Once we got through the narrows, we headed straight for Annan National park. The weather was stunning and we took a beautiful walk through the forest.

We arrived late that night into Ketchikan. Once again we were the only boat in town. A few of the shops were closed but all the locally owned stores stay open. They’re the best shops for any type of authentic art or souvenirs.

We departed Ketchikan on the 10th to head south to San Diego. The weather had a different idea and we ended up pulling over in Seattle.

We spent two nights in Seattle. It’s always a great stop on the west coast.

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Looks like the weather will be slowing down a little bit and we should be able to squeeze through some fronts on the 15th.

Next Stop San Diego.


Sea Creatures

We decided to do one last night at anchor in Kodiak before heading across the gulf. It ended up being an awesome decision.

Sea Otters

Sea Otter. Photo taken by Michael Power.

We cruised around the east side of the island and found a massive group of sea otters. They were super curious and a couple of them swam right up to the boat.

A few hours later we spotted some whales about 5 miles away from the boat. None of us have ever seen such big sprays. Fortrus drifted around for a while as the whales came closer. They were enormous. One decided to say hello by surfacing just a few feet off the bow. They were Blue Whales and absolutely incredible.

We are half way across the gulf right now and should be arriving in Glacier Bay tomorrow.

Let’s hope that our experience over in the southeast is as amazing as our time in Kodiak.

Group of Sea Otters

Group of Sea Otters. Photo taken by Paul McDonald.

Whales

Whales. Photo taken by Erik Aubry.

Whale.

Whale. Photo taken by Eric Aubry.


Deadliest Catch and Fortrus

We made it past Dutch but we didn’t end up making it all the way to Juneau. We pulled into Kodiak, Alaska and are waiting for the weather to break in the gulf before we cross.

Crew of the m/y Fortrus on the Cornelia Marie. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Fortrus pulled into the second largest fishing harbor in America. We docked beside the Cornelia Marie from the Deadliest Catch. The Time Bandit is out of the water with the hopes of being splashed next week. Fortrus and the rest of the crews ended up meeting out one night. Tony Lara, the captain of the Cornelia Marie has been a huge help. Paul and the crew invited Tony on board for dinner and he returned the favor by having us and bunch of fisherman over to his place for a seafood BBQ.  We had a great time and everybody here in Kodiak have been awesome.

On deck with Captain Tony aboard the m/v Cornelia Marie. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Tony gave us all a great tour of the Cornelia. It’s an amazing fishing machine.

Captain Tony Lara of the m/v Cornelia Marie giving some fishing pointers.

Hanging in the mess of the m/v Cornelia Marie.

We’ve seen sea otters, whales and we’ve been getting way too close to some sea lions.

Swimming sea lion. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

Sea otter. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Fortrus has had a great time in Kodiak and will be bummed to leave the island life.

Sea lion. Photo by Michael Power.

Fortrus with the fleet in Kodiak. Photo by Paul McDonald.


Contractors, vendors and people that helped Fortrus get through the NW passage.

 

A&R Engineering:                  Metal works, design, welding and powder coating

N&G Engineering:                 Main Engines and Generators

Décor Modern Metals:          Metal works, design, welding and pipe work

Hull Technologies:                 Welding and Modifications

Premier Marine (Halifax):   Canadian Agent

Blue Water Shipping:           Greenland Agent

Alaska Yacht Services:          Alaska Agent

Steve Hubbart:                      Captain M/Y Indigo

Pemba Marine:                      Paint and Varnish

Saltwater Boat Works:           Carpentry and design

Dennis Boat Works:               Carpentry and design

Island Marine Electronics:   Nav equipment and overall electrical work

Cote Marine:                          Electrical work

GBR Marine:                           Atlas Tech

ABT TRAC:                             Justine Rhodes

ION:                                        VSAT internet service provider

Paradise Marine:                   Electronics

Maritime Summit Shop:       Sarah (cold weather gear)

Seven Seas Yachts:                Scout dealer

Andrew Lebuhn:                   Broker (Camper and Nicholson)

Kardinal Marine:                   Management

Murray and Associates:       Naval Architects

Pete’s frootique:                      Halifax

Newson Provisioning:         Beth and Brian Fresh fruit and veg

Marc Jackson

Streamline Computing:        All I.T. and A.V. work done on Fortrus

The whole team

Amanzi Marine:                 Yacht provisioning, fueling and overall planning

Blog design and hosting.

 

As the Captain of Fortrus, I recommend all the above people or vendors.

Thanks for helping to make this trip a success,

Captain Scott Newson


We completed the Northwest Passage!

We departed Cambridge Bay on the 8th of September. The seas were calm all the way into Tuktoyaktuk. We stopped for just enough time to take on some fuel to keep on moving.

Powering thru the waves.

We punched through the first rough weather just west of Point Barrow. We ran into a short 7 ft on the nose. We took a left hand turnaround Port Hope and hugged the coast for ten hours to avoid some strong northerlies.  We took a straight line from there to the Bering Straights. We knew that it would be rough but the predictions were much better than what we encountered.
Fortrus ended up having to ride 15ft waves that backed around from the starboard side all the way to the bow. We punched through seas for over 20 hours with winds gusting to 60 knots.
On September 16th, we made it through the Bering Straights to complete the Northwest Passage.
We’ve had some spectacular Northern lights along the way. It was tough to get good photos with the boat moving around so much.
We are hoping to make it straight through to Juneau however a few gales south of the Aleutians are trying to prevent us from getting all the way to the southeast. We might have to stop in Dutch…

Dragging the Scout thru heavy seas.


Cambridge Bay

Due to some weather, we decided to stay in Cambridge Bay for a few extra days. Levi and Charlie took the guests fishing up a fresh watercreek. They pulled in some good fish and had a great time.  They met a retired local named Jimmy and made arrangements to meet up with him the next day.

Quads alongside Fortrus. Photo by Stephen McDonald.

Photo by Stephen McDonald.

Jimmy came by the boat and took us to meet his sister and brother in-law who rented us some quads and a truck. We followed Jimmy up to Mount Pelee. The weather was fantastic and the ride was super fun. A few of us ran up the mountain and Jacob spotted a small herd of Muskox.  Steve got some amazing video of the herd running strait down at him.  We were lucky enough to get some great pictures right up close to these wild creatures. Amazing… On the way back we found a weasel and also pulled in some Arctic Char with Jimmy.

Muskox. Photo by Michael Power.

Photo by Michael Power.

The people of Cambridge Bay have been very helpful and Fortrus is now fully provisioned for the next leg of it’s journey. We tried to fuel while we were here but due to ice the town’s delivery of winter fuel is late and they can’t afford to deplete their supplies any more.

Weasel. Photo by Michael Power.

We all had a very memorable time in Cambridge Bay….

Next Stop, Tuktoyaktuk.

Trick photography!  Photo by Michael Power.


Cornwall Island and Heavy Seas

We headed around the east side of Cornwall Island to see how high we could climb. We made it to 75 degrees when the ice surrounded the boat. It was amazing to be surrounded by new forming ice but we new at this point that we couldn’t keep heading north. Fortrus was digging a perfect channel through the Ice. We did a few turns and made some cool designs in the ice. The Scout was riding in a trench of water with ice on both sides. Amazing…

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

We headed south down Prince Regent inlet and got into some pretty heavy weather. The winds were gusting from the North at over 50 knots. The boat handled the stern seas of 5 to 7 feet with no problems at all. The Scout was doing some pretty impressive surfing. We think that it might have gotten barreled a few times.

We tried to anchor around Fort Ross but the wind was too much. We contacted the coast guard and together we agreed to shoot through the Bellot Straights. We ran into 7knots of current as we went through the narrows. Our speed dropped to less than 2 knots over the ground.

We knew that we would be running into some pretty serious ice once we got to the other side. The wind decided to drop off as we entered into the ice fields. The first wave of ice was pretty easy. It was around 3/10th of concentration. We knew that the second wave was going to be between 4/10th and 5/10th.

The ice in the second field got pretty thick so thought that it would be a good idea to put the jetskies in the water and have some fun. The guests and crew all jumped and floated around on chunks of Ice. The jet skies aired over a few icebergs and Sam decided to swim around the ice in a dry suit. We almost lost Notti as he floated away on a small piece of Ice. Sam rescued him on a Jet ski.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Paul McDonald.

Photo by Michael Power.

Once we were done playing around, we needed to punch through some heavy ice before making it into open water. Some of the bergs stopped Fortrus completely in her tracks. The Steel hull thumped against the ice so hard that people almost fell over on deck. It was pretty scary but we don’t have any salt water coming in. That’s a good thing.

We made it through and are now off to Cambridge Bay. The wind is a steady 28 knots and to seas are 4 to 6 on the nose, pretty bumpy weather but we need to bang out some more miles.

Photo by Jacob McDonald.


Playing on an Iceberg and Resolute

After leaving Croker Bay we decided to pull over and play on an Iceberg. We found a Monster berg and pulled the scout up to it. Everybody jumped off and instantly became kids. It looked like a perfect floating winter playground. Guests and crew all started to climb and play on the Ice.  After some time, we decided to back Fortrus up to the berg so that everybody could step off and on to the swim platform. Pretty cool…

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko

Photo by Levi Bell.

We anchored that night at Beechy Island.  We went ashore to see the gravesites of Franklin’s expedition. We all gave thanks to the explorers that paved the way through the NW passage. It’s unbeleivable to imagine what it would have been like to be stranded there. Noddy and Erik ran into an Arctic Hare on the island and got a few great photos. We also saw a fox running around on Beechy the next day. Other than the animals, the island has a very sober feeling about it.

The weather changed over night. The pressure dropped more than 16 mb and the seas became a short six feet. The winds lasted the entire 60NM to Resolute where we needed to be to pick up the Australian boys.  Our voyage is now definitely starting to feel like an adventure.

Photo by Charlie Howden.

Photo by Charlie Howden.

Michael was running a little low on fresh fruit and veg. We had my parents, Beth and Brian pack up some supplies and meet up with the boys on their way through Ottawa. The four made it through some thick fog and into Resolute. Michael was very relieved to receive some much needed fresh supplies. There isn’t much in the way of fresh vegetables or fruit up here.

With the change in weather, the ice decided to shift and block our way south. We contacted the Canadian Coast Guard to discuss the situation with the ice. They agreed with our plan. We will hang out up here for a couple of days and wait for the ice to dissipate before heading south. Let’s hope the ice cooperates with our plan.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Now that we have all the guests on board and a couple of days in hand, we’ve decided to head a little further north. The snow has been coming down hard and the boats brow is now covered in Ice.  The guests were having a good time taking photos in the snow.

We spoke to a few locals in Resolute and they put us on to a pod of Baluga Whales. Very cool white whales.

The hope tomorrow is to make it all the way to 80 degrees north. We’ll try to make it all the way up to the pack Ice.

Photo by Natasha Kovalenko.

Artic Hare. Photo by Erik Aubry.

 


Search for the Narwhal

After we left Pond Inlet we went on a search for the infamous Narwhal. The crew has put a lot of research into finding them. All sources pointed us to a place called Bruce’s Head in Koluktoo Bay.  We anchored there for the night in the hopes of seeing the unicorn of the sea. After no sightings, we decided to head out on the morning of the 27th.

Approaching the Glacier. Photo by Michael Powers.

We had to do a little more exploring and decided to head up into Croker Bay to see some Glaciers. As we approached the first glacier werealized that there was a lot of ice floating around in the fjord.As Fortrus crept towards the Ice wall, Paul spotted a polar bear swimming in the water. We quickly turned the boat around and followed her as she swam towards an Iceberg. The cameras were flying on the bow as she climbed up the Iceberg and disappeared down the other side.

Polar Bear! Photo by Paul McDonald

Steve spotted her again as she swam towards the glacier. Charlie brought the little boat around and we began to hunt her down for some closer photos. The ice was thick and the scout was banging through some very big bergs. The current was ripping and the ice tried to grab us a few times. Ice flows are definitely not something to play with.

Ice. Photo by Stephen McDonald.

Scott and Charlie Scouting the bear through the ice. Photo by Michael Power

The tender caught up to the bear and we took some great photos of her with some magnificent backdrops. In the moment and not reallythinking, we noticed that we were under at least ten stories of ice that could fall on us at any moment. Very dangerous and extremely scary but the end result was, getting some Ridiculous photos and video.

More then ten stories tall at the water. Photo taken by Stephen McDonald.

We have no idea what’s next.

The Boys just after we spotted the polar bear. Photo by Natasha Kovalenko


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