The legs
Expeditions timings and settings

Tyhe expedition left on Friday June 1st 2012 from Tromsø (Norway) to reach in eight legs King Cove (Alaska USA) on Sunday October 17th 2012, a total of 140 days, little less than five months. the various crews, with a maximum of six people per leg, The crews took turns at each leg.

Our numbers

A few numbers related to our Northwest Passage:

We sailed from Tromsø (Norway) on Friday June 1st 2012 and we reached King Cove (Alaska) on Sunday 17th October 2012, spending 140 days (154 days out of Italy) and eight legs.

Twentyone people took active part of the expedition two of which, Nanni, skipper and expedition leader, and Salvatore, his second, along the whole Passage. The other took part in one or more legs each.

The days out at sea ave been 97. Miles sailed (measured on the water) were 8,181. the longest leg was the first from Tromsø to Reykjavik of 1,304 miles. The shortest was the fourth from Upernavik (Greenland) to Pond Inlet (Nuunavut, Canada), of 525 miles. We used the sails along 1,958 miles.The strongest wind encountered while sailing was 57 knot, the highest waves have been assessed to be 4.5 meters. The strongest wind overall was 80 knots. The maximum speed reached (sailing, because motoring is slower) was 9.7 knots on the water. We have not been able to measure the size of icebergs, but we assessed that the highest appeared to be longer than 200 meters and higher, out of the water, more than 50 meters. The fair weather days did not go beyond 50. The rest of the time cloudy weather, rain, fog and towards the end also snow. The internal heating used approx. 1,500 liters of diesel, with an average consumption of 10 liters per day. We used around 40 kg. of propane for cooking. We used 8,500 liters of sweet water, around 55 liters per day. The following have been the only problems:  we had to change eight service batteries, that did not last three years, the radar failed in Greenland and could not be reaired or replaced, the less important of the water heating system broke, the generator water pump failed and was replaced, the spare part coming in Nome from Italy, two of the electric pumps of the toilets have been replaced and we have been hit by a slab of ice that dented the right side of the boat. We did not sustain other accidents to people or goods, we did not suffer any illness and we did not experience any internal conflict even minor. In conclusion, not only the preparation was accurate and adequate, but the unavoidable accidents have been brilliantly solved. In five months of sailing, and a really tough one, those results are clearly not due solely to our good luck!

Leg 1
Tromsø - Reykjavik

1 June 2012 - 11 June 2012

L'equipaggio a Henningsvaer

Distance travelled 1,304 miles of which 596 sailing and 708 motoring.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Filippo, Loredana, Mariele

After a first part within the fjords south of Tromsø and within the Vesteralen with fair weather, we stopped at Henningsvaer in the Lofoten and then continued along the Vestfjord down to the Maelstrom, to enter the Ocean. The weather became foul and we met a high sea coming from north east and wind up to 30 knots, slowly decreasing.

Reaching the northern part of Iceland sea temperature became very low, not higher than zero degrees, but the sky cleared.

We stopped one night in Isafjordur, where we passed the customs inspection, and continued direcltly to Reykjavik with fair and warmer weather, motoring all the time. In Reykjavik we met "Jonathan" coming from Svalbard and due to sail the Passage as well. In Reykjavik we took part of the Italian national day celebration with the Italian Ambassador and several Italian residents.

Leg 2
Reykjavik - Nuuk

20 June 2012 - 1 July 2012


1,204 miles, 1,143 motoring, 61 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Mario, Nicoletta, Paolo P., Pietro

This is a mainly oceanic leg, first in the Denmark Strait, between Iceland and Greenland, than passing Kap Farvel, the southern tip of Greenland, surrounded by a belt of more than 60 miles of ice and icebergs coming from the Arctic. Following up the Greenland it has not been possible to get near the coast and visiting the spectacular fjords sooner than several hundred miles because of the ice belt still present.

The leg has been mostly and incredibly calm. We experienced one day of contrary wind, but not very srtong. The fog was near and within the ice belt. We sighted many cetaceans and seals We stopped in Paamiut meeting again "Jonathan" e the Italian sailing boat "Shaula". Than a short stop in Avigait. The last two days in the fog.

Il nostro primo iceberg
Leg 3
Nuuk - Upernavik

6 July 2012 - 16 July 2012

Iceberg davanti a Disko

706 miles, 647 motoring, 59 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Mario, Paolo P., Giancarlo

It is mainly a coastal leg that allowed us to visit one of the most spectacular stretches of Greenland and some inuit settlements, the close approach to glaciers and to the icebergs that they calve.

Leg 4
Upernavik - Pond Inlet

19 July 2012 - 26 July 2012

525  miles, 361 motoring, 164 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Francesco, Giancarlo, Paolo G., Stefano

During this leg we sailed north along the Greenland coast toward the Melville Gulf taking the opportunity to admire the largest glaciers sliding out from the indlandsis (the glacial cap covering almost all the inside of Greenland). Later we crossed the Melville Gulf making land on the Canadian coast of Nunavut at Pond Inlet, where we entered Canada and made contact with the central part of the Northwest Passage.

The wind has been fairly fresh during the central part of our crossing letting Best Explorer have a good speed.

Foche sul pack
Leg 5
Pond Inlet - Gjoa Haven

2 August 2012 - 14 August 2012

Pack impenetrabile all'orizzonte

1,271 miles, 960 motoring, 311 saling.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Danilo, Paolo I., Roberto, Silvano

This is the central part of the Northwest Passage easily blocked by the ice flowing out from the Arctic Ocean. It was the stretch that stopped all the earlier expeditions before Amundsen in 1903  and never crossed again before the Second World War.

We had as well to force our way through in Baffin Bay and later in Lancaster Sound and in James Ross Strait. The ice flowing out of Lancaster Sound created a hook around us and obliged us to follow a much longer and winding path mostly in the fog even damaging the side of our boat.

We had a small help from the wind as we became very short in fuel. We stopped briefly to rest and assess our situation in Dundas Harbor, Prince Leopold Harbor and Kennedy (Transition) Bay. During the last 24 hous we experienced sunshine, sleet and rain and later a very dark night, our first of the trip, having left the midnight sun and having both magnetic compasses completely blocked as the magnetic North Pole is very near.
The leg ended in Gjøa Haven, where Amundsen spent two winters and sired some family.

Leg 6
Gjoa Haven - Tuktoyaktuk

21 August 2012 - 1 September 2012

1,005 miles, 845 motoring, 160 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Pierpaolo, Roberto, Silvano

We continued travelling across the central part of the Passage, were a great number of channels, rocks and small islands make for a difficult navigation. After  passing a very interesting and smooth crossing of the complex and narrow Simpson Srtait we allowed us to spend some time wandering around in Terror Bay, where a very cloudy information let us hope to spot a submerged wreck that we obviously did not find. In September 2016 an expedition found the Franklin's Terror ship exactly below our track. We stopped in Cambridge Bay, one of the historical places of the explorations, where standed barely visible the wreck of the Maud, that was owned by Amundsen. We had the surprise to be recorded by Google Street View, fixing the presence of Best Explorer moored at the pier. The midnight sun is nothing more than a memory. We finally arrived at the delta of the huge Mackenzie River with extremely low shores marked by many "pingos", the special icy mounds of this area, after haven stopped in several strange, interesting and scenic bays. After Gjoa Haven we never met the ice agai, while the compass started working again.

Best Explorer  Cambridge Bay Street View
Leg 7
Tuktoyaktuk - Nome

10 September 2012 - 19 September 2012

Nico e Mauro  Pauline Cove

1,242 miles, 923 motoring, 319 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Mauro, Nicoletta

Tuktoyaktuk is an Inuit village at the end of the winter road crossing Alaska northbound. Around here there are more than 1,350 "pingos", strange mounds of earth and ice that surge only where permafrost and flowing water meet in the Arctic areas or up on the mountains where the ground is permanently frozen. They grow where underground water is squeezed upwards by permafrost and later freezes. We arrived earlier than planned but stopped longer because of a storm from NW that raised the sea level higher than a meter and a half.  Duly completing the exit procedures from Canada, we left together with "Dodo Delight" and "Marguerite I". After a short visit to Thetys Bay in Herschel Island, where the whalers wintered across the end of the nineteen century, We entered US waters travelling along the Northern Slope coast, faced with shoals, not an easy sailing. We did not stop in Point Barrow, as previously planned, as the weather was deteriorating and we continued in the Chukchi Sea luckily and narrowly landing on the inhospitable and flat coast Mauro that needed to go back home.  A storm with winds reaching 60 knots made the following night an interesting sailing experience, while a couple of days later, on September 19th, we sailed through the two twin islands Diomede, one owned by US and the other by Russia, completing officially the first Italian navigation across the Northwest Passage. The arrival in Nome and the official entrance into US happened teh following day.


Leg 8
Nome - King Cove

7 October 2012 - 13 October 2012

924 miles, 636 motoring, 288 sailing.

Crew members: Nanni, Salvatore, Filippo, Heike, Paola

We stayed in Nome much longer than planned: 19 days! That happened because of a series of deep lows that came north from Japan along the Aleutians chain and that brought constantly contrary winds from SW. We were together with "Marguerite I" and "Coriolis", the last boat of the year to cross the Northwest Passage. The winter was coming and we were increasingly worried to become blocked by the ice, being impossible to leave the boat in Nome because of the shape of the harbour. Finally we decided to head to King Cove instead of Dutch Harbor as it looked more suitable for us. During this last leg we stopped to rest in Kangirlvar where during the night the current played us a strange trick.  The sea and the wind were strong enough during the whole route, but the temperature, in Nome below zero, stayed at acceptable levels. The last 24 hours, already into the Pacific after crossing through the Aleutians,  we suffered a head wind 40 knots strong that made our navigation painful. As soon as we moored in King Cove the wind speed went up to 80 knots. From there the flights back to Italy lasted five days as connections are difficult and sometimes not available because of teh weather.

Best Explorer a King Cove
L'ultima tempesta