Skip to content

Adventurer Update

We’re happy to report that Mike Johnson and crew are making good progress toward completing their transit of the Northwest Passage aboard Gitana. Seen here is last season’s route laid over a National Geo map.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As reported earlier, Mike Johnson and a crew of two men are currently attempting to complete a transit of the Northwest Passage that was halted last season by the heaviest concentration of sea ice seen along that route in well over a decade — a true anomaly in this era of generally diminishing polar ice pack. 

Having left his 44-ft fiberglass schooner Gitana to endure winter temperatures of minus 50° while hauled out at remote Cambridge Bay, Canada, Mike and his crew spent a couple of weeks in July preparing her for sea, then had her refloated via a giant construction crane. According to MIke, Cambridge is the only possible haulout site along the route. He barely made it there last season before pack ice set in. Had he not, he would have had to winter-over aboard, hoping the surrounding ice didn’t crush Gitana‘s extremely thick, yet vulnerable hull. 

The latest report from Mike’s shore liaison, Connie Schaekel, tells us that Gitana has left the remote village of ‘Tuk’ (Tuktoyaktuk) in Canada’s Northwest Territories, headed for Hershel Island, Canada, where they hope to top off fuel. From there, they will head for Demarcation Bay, just over the border of Alaska. This leg is the longest leg of this year’s voyage," says Connie, "but all systems are working and the crew is in good spirits." Updates come via Mike’s Spot device.

The green color of this Google Earth image almost makes the route look temporate. Trust us, it’s not. Red circles, right to left, denote Cambridge Bay, Herschel Island, YT, and Nome, Alaska. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As Mike explained to us earlier this year, the general definition of a Northwest Passage transit is from Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle, in either direction. So, Gitana will have completed hers when she reaches Nome, Alaska. We wish Mike and his crew the best of luck. 

Meanwhile, we’re following the progress of another bold adventurer: Russian-born Rimas Meleshyus who departed Sausalito recently in his vintage San Juan 24 daysailer, Pier Pressure. Although Rimas is a smart fellow who speaks six languages, he simply would not be dissuaded from attempting to sail around the world — via Cape Horn — on this tiny vessel.

Having endured several lengthy passages in this tiny boat already, Rimas is nothing if not stoic. We hope the angels are looking out for him this time too.

Pier Pressure
©2014Latitude 38 Media, LLC

During his four-month stint in Sausalito’s Richardson Bay anchorage, Rimas made many friends who admire his spunk while being generally concerned for his safety on the open ocean. And this morning, some are gravely worried about his fate, as his DeLorme tracker plot shows him heading toward Hawaii at roughly 3.5 knots, directly toward the assumed path of Tropical Storm Lowell unless — according a weather analyst who is trying to assist Rimas — he does an about-face and heads ESE into more stable conditions. But that’s not the only threat. According to the same source, "An area of low pressure is deepening very rapidly and will almost certainly form into a cyclone within the next two days." If so, it would be named Hurricane Maria, and it, too, could overrun Pier Pressure. Hopefully, Rimas will take the advice and radically alter course.


Leave a Comment