Kiwi Graeme Kendall, attempting a non-stop circumnavigation via the NW Passage has been forced back by ice

New Zealand yachtsman and adventurer Graeme Kendall has been forced to abandon his attempt to become the first person to sail solo non stop around the world via the Arctic Northwest Passage, in his yacht the Astral Express.

Kendall is currently in Baffin Bay close to Lancaster Sound, the entrance to the North West Passage. On advice from the Canadian Coast Guard, ice experts, and other vessels in the area, Graeme made the decision yesterday that it would be too dangerous to proceed with his journey, as ice continues to block the entrance to the famous passage.

Although there is a chance that part of the passage will open up, there is only a remote chance that the route through the Arctic Circle would be clear for the whole passage. There is also a high probability, due to the current conditions, that the sea will freeze over again, blocking any escape route.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have made the decision not to proceed further towards the North West Passage, “said Kendall from on board the Astral Express. “The conditions are now too dangerous and I can’t go against Mother Nature and commonsense, it would be foolish to proceed at this stage. The advice I have received from the Canadian Coast guard and the ice experts in the Arctic, and from fellow sailor Skip Novak on Pelagic is that the conditions in the passage are not favourable for this season. The passage is not expected to open and a retreat would be dangerous.

“My plan is now to head south out of the ice-bergs and make for Nuuk, the capital of Greenland which is also known as Godthab meaning Good Hope. The last land I saw had the same name some 8250 nautical miles ago. After 4 months at sea and over 18000nm under the boat it is disappointing to have to change direction but there is an old fisherman’s saying that – a decision made early is better than one made too late.”