Returning yesterday to Breskell in my Greenland’s boatyard, after a 3 long days trip, I was up for a nasty surprise…
The hatch of my boat was wide open !
First, I thought I was robbed.
A quick survey showed it was not the case. Nothing missing inside. Some poor fellows needed a shelter during some cold and long polar nights. They found one in my boat. Why not? These tramps had taste. Their choice of my boat a proof of that!
In the great outdoors, when you badly need a shelter, curtsey dictates that you leave the place in perfect order, in case another fellow needed also protection against the elements.
No luck here.
These degenerated drifters left a mess inside. And worse, they let the hatch, the boat door, open to the elements. Rain, snow and ice are dominant features in Greenland winter weather. I got them all; and all inside! More than one hundred gallons of water. Water raised to my floor boards. At sea, a damned serious situation. At least, that is expected with water rushing inside the boat. But, dry on land and well commissioned for a long arctic winter, sinking my boat was an unexpected discovery!
Still, one hundred gallons for a whole winter is not so much knowing the intensity of some Greenland winter storms. It could have been much worse except for an old trick well known by traditional sailors on wooden boats. When we leave our boat on land for a long time, we drill a hole in some lower part of the hull. Yes, we voluntarily drill ourself a hole in our hull… Think about that you plastic boat owners!
Just for when some water finds its way inside. Without this simple trick, my whole North West Passage would have been compromised. A simple little hole in the hull to avoid water damages later. But on land only. And don’t forget to patch it with epoxy before launching the boat again. Sinking a boat in the water is always a possibility.But sinking a boat hight and dry in a boatyard…..
Two days of works and Breskell is now cleaned up and ready for her final preparations before launching…
Remember the famous words by NASA flight director Gene Kranz after an onboard explosion in the spaceship during Apollo 13’s mission?
Failure is not an option
Returning to Breskell , I feel just the same. Not on the same scale and without a nation anxiously waiting for a hero’s return.With a difference.
The NASA flight director sat safely at his desk, in a warm cubicle and supported by all his colleagues.
I have to lead my crew across a minefield of ice, growlers, icebergs and arctic currents. My ass is on the front line!
Also, for me, failure is not an option.
First and foremost, I owe that to my family who supported me from the beginning: my lovely wife Corrine, my son Theo and his beautiful wife, my daughter Azilis.
I owe also a safe passage to my crew.
I carefully selected all of them. They are highly skilled outdoor women and men or professional filmmaker.
They know the risks. They understand perfectly that the North West Passage is not your average pop and mom Sunday summer cruise
I also received a lot of support from simple individuals, from institutions like my North West School of Wooden Boat and from some very well recognized corporate sponsors like Patagonia, Admiral ship supply, Sunrise coffee and others…
I owe them all also not to fail.
Finally there is my beloved Breskell. I made this boat from scratch, with my bare hands many years ago. I gave her a soul and sailed her all over the world. I don’t plan to leave my Breskell drifting alone during the next century in some arctic graveyard