Unbelievable sailing in the Arctic on a Corsair F-31 UC

arctic solo sail

On July 8th, 2010 Captain Tommy D Cook boarded the Sailing Vessel CAPTAIN LEMUEL R BRIGMAN III and departed Happy Valley – Goose Bay Labrador to continue the great adventure started from Two Harbors Minnesota last spring. After traveling 3388 nautical miles through the Great Lakes and out the Saint Lawrence Sea Way, the CAP’N LEM wintered over in Labrador while Tommy returned to Port Angeles Washington to prepare for the next leg of this journey.

Capt. Tommy spent the winter in physical training to maintain the best edge possible for a 64-year-old sailor endeavoring such a voyage. In addition, many hours were spent studying Google Earth photos searching for routes and anchorages to be used along the way.

captain TommyUpdate: On August 2nd, after spending two long weeks threading his way through ice fields off the coast of Baffin Island in heavy fog and a faulty radar, Captain Tommy decided that even though he made it to the doorway of the Northwest Passage, that the voyage just wasn't meant to be. 

"After hours of staring into the unknown I see the fate of Franklin" Capt Tommy stated, "The misery of Amundsen, the disappointment of those who tried and failed and those that tried and died. I’ve seen enough ice to last a lifetime. It was a beautiful dream to sail the Northwest Passage and now it is a beautiful reality to turn my back on it and head toward other adventures. If we’ve learned anything at all, it is this: The journey and not the destination is the adventure. The destination was just a wonderful excuse. Let’s go to Labrador and look for white bear!"

Captain Tommy first conceived the dream of a solo navigation of the Northwest Passage when he sailed as the Boatswain on the Coast Guard Ice Breaker Polar Sea to the Arctic Ocean in 1981. He returned 4 more times to the ice north of Alaska, as well as 4 times to the Antarctic. And now, things are changing. The Northwest Passage has gone ice free for two years in a row. The polar bear, the walrus, the arctic fox are in danger of losing their habitat.

Captain Tommy is not a stuntman seeking fame and fortune, but simply a sailor in search of yet another adventure. Those of you born with that sense of quiet unrest that compels you to know what lies around the bend, over the hill or beyond the horizon will need no explanation as to why. But there are always those who wonder about sailors, mountain climbers and adventures and what makes them so obsessed to simply go. Now is the time. Hesitation is not an option. The plans are laid, the boat is ready, and the money is in the bank. We are not asking anything of you but “be interested”.

Arctic Solo Sail - Trip Details

Expecting to be locked in the ice for up to 2 years, Tommy’s initial plan called for a heavy dual hulled steel boat and extensive supplies. With the unprecedented opening of the Northwest Passage in 2007, a radically different approach was possible. After talking to various designers and builders, Tommy decided to look for a production boat that would meet and in some instances, exceed his new requirements. He decided on the Corsair F-31 UC based on availability, speed (approaching 20 knots or 23 mph) and reputation, plus the added feature of its ability to be towed down the highway at 55 mph. This boat is in keeping with Tommy’s goal of going light, going fast and going now. Though many may argue the vessel is too light in displacement for such an undertaking, Captain Tommy is convinced it more than makes up for it in its other attributes of speed and agility to compensate. 

corsair 31 in the arctic

3388 nautical miles have been completed. With the Great Lakes Adventure behind, the CAP'N LEM is poised to make to the north. The farthermost southern and eastern points of the journy have been reached. 

The transit through the Lakes and the Majestic St. Lawrence River and Seaway was a journey not to be missed. And the wonderful people met along not to be forgotten. Continue Reading >>

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