Northwest Passage History

Everything started in 1490 when John Cabot, the navigator and explorer hypothesized a shipping route to the Orient through the Northwest. For nearly 300 years, many expeditions looking for this passage ended up in failure but helped in discovering the Arctic islands.

It was not until 1906 that the Northwest Passage was finally crossed from east to west by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. He completed the journey in three years on his 21 meter sloop named Gjøa.

The first complete traverse from west to east was made by Canadian Henry Larsen in 1940s aboard the 27 meter St Roch. We will attempt the same exploit as of June 2009 on our «Baloum-Gwen».

Since 1906, only a handful of sailing boats managed to cross the 6,000 km linking east to west and vice versa <more info>

Today, the Northwest Passage is a vital key to economic trade growth between Europe and the United States and Asia but the ecological impact discussed below are alarming!

This passage shortens by 4000 km the sea journey between Europe and the Far East which today is done via the Suez Canal. For example, the maritime route Rotterdam - Tokyo is 15900 km via the Northwest Passage and 14100 km via the passage of the Northeast, whereas via the Suez Canal is 21100 km and 23300 km via the Panama Canal.

It’s the turn of the «Baloum-Gwen» to enter the history records of Polar sea exploration by attempting as of June 2009 to traverse the Northwest Passage from west to east, having already managed to successfully cross the Northwest Passage from the opposite direction the year before