Solo sailor’s Arc­tic first with a red hen

Yachting World - - On The Wind -

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

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