Solo sailor’s Arctic first with a red hen
Another sailor who has transited the North West Passage this summer, albeit by a different route to David Cowper (see previous page), is French sailor Guirec Soudée. Soudée is a single-hander – if you don’t count his constant company, his pet red hen, Monique.
Soudée, 24, bought Monique in the Canary Islands on his solo voyage from France, spending a season in the Caribbean before heading north. He and Monique live on Yvinec, a 38ft 9in (11.8m) steel cutter.
The pair spent last year in Greenland before continuing through the North West Passage, a voyage that took 32 days. They covered 3,400 miles, taking what has become the most popular and accessible route via Cambridge Bay, Barrow and finishing in Nome, Alaska.
‘The crossing was not simple,’ he reported. ‘We met a lot of obstacles: plates of drifting ice, currents, icebergs, big winds. As if this were not enough, we had an additional difficulty. When sailing close to the magnetic Pole, the autopilot no longer worked and I was forced to stay at the helm, sleeping only 10 minutes at a time, with Yvinec in the middle of a sea of ice.
‘The feeling of danger was omnipresent and I was often wakened with a start by the thud of ice striking the hull. Sometimes in the fog there were strange silhouettes. It was worrying. I had the sensation of going along the coast and making a false turn.
’But in the great north the sights are breathtaking: bears, seals, narwhal, and whales that escorted us. Monique was happy and she strutted proudly on deck!’
You can follow the pair’s progress on Soudée’s Facebook page, Voyage d’yvinec.
Above: Guirec Soudée and his red hen, Monique, completed the North West passage this summer