THE KADEY-KROGEN 50 OPEN MIXES MODERN STYLE WITH A BLUEWATER HULL DESIGN
In Svalbard, the archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, polar bears are so prevalent and pose such a threat to humans that it’s mandatory for each shore party to carry a firearm. We watch from the safety of the 68-foot Nordhavn Migration one sun-drenched day as a sailing vessel makes an abrupt 180-degree turn. Through binoculars, we see the swimming polar bear the vessel is working hard to avoid. ¶ I grab my cameras and, with two companions, motor out in the tender to follow the bear from a safe distance. He pays little mind other than to glance over his shoulder occasionally at us with profound indifference. Dog paddling, the bear makes his way to the far shore, shakes off in canine fashion and ambles up a rocky bluff to a snow field, where he promptly falls onto his back and rolls with all four paws reaching skyward. We’re so giddy that we nearly forget he’s among the greatest of all apex predators. ¶ Getting to this moment has been a memorable adventure. I’ve made many ocean passages, all too often across unfriendly seas, but somehow this one is different. Each time Migration’s bow digs into a trough, she feels as if she’s come to a standstill, protesting the notion of going any farther. I know exactly how she feels; I’m prone to seasickness, however, I’ve made an uneasy truce with the malady, learning to live with it rather than fight it, while cursing those who are immune. This first leg, from Tromsø on Norway’s northern coast to the Svalbard Archipelago, is a clear indication that hostilities have resumed. ¶ After 43 hours and 256 nautical miles underway, we make landfall at Bear Island, roughly the twothirds mark between Norway and Svalbard. The passage is
characterized by 8- to 12-foot waves with a miserable short period, and a steady 25-knot refrigerated northerly on the nose. We seek shelter in a lee called Sørhamna (hamnameans harbor in Norwegian, but this is little more than an indentation in a lee). I follow the lead of Migration’s owners, George and Marci, along with their 12-year-old Goldendoodle — whose sea legs are better than mine — in taking hot showers and eating a meal for the first time in almost two days. ¶ It’s foggy and cold, at 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Determined to get some fresh air, we launch our smaller RIB and cruise the shoreline, motoring along cliffs festooned with nesting fulmars and puffins. The water around us is rich with bobbing birds. Some swim right up to us. ¶ A weather window beckons, so we weigh anchor and are underway after just a few hours. A full day of steaming brings us to Sørkappøya, an island just off Svalbard’s southernmost shore. It’s a welcome sight. Mercifully, the conditions for this run were better, but the last few hours saw winds up to nearly 50 knots, with seas churning and, at times, visibility of just a few hundred yards in mist and spume. Waves broke over Migration’s bow and pelted the windscreen. Now, in the lee of Svalbard’s Vesle Svartkuven peninsula, conditions have improved, but there’s no doubt that we are in the maw of the frozen north. ¶ Planning for this voyage was a year in the making, and during that time, with few exceptions, when I mentioned to anyone my intended destination, the invariable first reaction was, “Where’s that?” quickly followed by, “Why would you want to go there?” ¶ To quote George Mallory, because it’s there. ¶ The polar ice pack is farther north than usual, and George is making a run north to “the edge.” Using a satellite ice report from the research station in Ny-Ålesund, we establish a waypoint and begin our trek north. Six hours later, we are in what British explorer Henry Worsley called “the milk.” In all directions, a pewter sky meets a slate-gray sea. We’ve gone off the chart, literally; on our present heading, save the ice, there’s nothing between us and Alaska except the pole. The magnetic compass reads 335 degrees, while the true heading is 44 degrees — a variation of a staggering 69 degrees, a function of our proximity to the magnetic north, rather than geographic, pole. ¶ Eleven hours after getting underway, I’m beginning to wonder if this was worth it. We are eating up valuable time around the archipelago to see mile after mile of featureless sea surface. ¶ Then we begin to encounter ice. While ice is nothing new for Migration (she’s cruised amid it in Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland), this is the polar ice cap. As the ice becomes thicker, we find ourselves changing course to search for leads that will take us north. Finally, after 13 hours, we reach a point where it’s deemed too risky to go on; getting beset in the ice isn’t the kind of Shackleton-esque adventure we’re in search of. ¶ I snap a photo of the GPS, 81°27.7, for proof. We are just 500 nautical miles from the pole. ¶ We drop the anchor onto an ice floe, launch the drone for some aerial photos, take a group shot on the foredeck (because it’s that much farther north) and then turn our bow southward. ¶ To the best of my knowledge, we are now the record holders for the farthest north production motoryacht voyage.
THE MAGNETIC COMPASS READS 335 DEGREES, WHILE THE TRUE HEADING IS 44 DEGREES — A VARIATION OF A STAGGERING 69 DEGREES.