Northwest Passage (2007)
Cloud Nine becomes the first American sailing vessel in history to transit the Northwest Passage from east to west.
Our crew consisted of Doug Finley, Chris Parkman, David Thoreson, Matt Drillio, and Gaynelle Templin. Gaynelle deserves special mention because we were married in March 1996, and she’s become a regular crewmember on all Cloud Nine passages since that date. We met in 1994, and after making two passages together, the subject of marriage came up. We decided it was a good idea, although she insisted that part of the marriage contract had to be that I would take her around the world. I agreed, and the recessional at our wedding was “Anchors Aweigh.” Just two weeks later, we sailed east from Gibraltar, where Cloud Nine had spent the winter, thus beginning what was to be our west-to-east honeymoon circumnavigation.
At the reunion, we reviewed the highlights of all three Northwest Passage endeavors. We made attempts in 1994 and 2005, both of which were turned back by ice, but the third, in 2007, was finally successful. Once we’d transited the Passage’s northernmost waterways, we recalled Chris’ words when we were anchored in the shelter of Nunavak Island, in the Bering Sea, during a serious blow. At the time, we were quite secure, but the anemometer at the top of our mast was registering gusts over 50 knots from the south, the direction in which we were headed. Recalling that we’d been stuck in Nome for nine days while waiting for the wind to drop below 30 knots, Chris said, “I think we’re better off here than in Nome. That island is bigger than Nome’s breakwater.”
Doug also made a memorable observation upon our approach to Kodiak, Alaska, near the end of the Passage run. “What a nice way to get to Kodiak,” he said, pausing a beat for emphasis. “From Halifax, Nova Scotia.” Cloud Nine became the first American sailing vessel in history to transit the Northwest Passage from east to west, pulling it off in one season.