top of page

The legs

The timing and themes of the expedition

The expedition started on Friday 1 June 2012 from Tromsø (Norway) to arrive in eight stages at King Cove (Alaska USA) on Sunday 17 October 2012, for a total of 140 days, a little less than five months. with a maximum of six people per stage, they took turns in different locations.

Anchor 33
Our numbers

A few numbers of our Northwest Passage:

We set sail from Tromsø (Norway) on Friday 1st June 2012 and arrived in King Cove (Alaska) on 17th October 2012, taking 140 days (154 days away from Italy) and eight stops.

21 people took part in the expedition, including two, Nanni, skipper and expedition leader, and Salvatore, his help, for the whole journey. The others for one or more stages each.

The days of pure navigation were 97. The miles traveled (measured on the water) were 8,181. The longest leg was the first, from Tromsø to Reykjavik, of 1,304 miles. The shortest one from Upernavik (Greenland) to Pond Inlet (Nuunavut, Canada), of 525 miles. 1,958 miles were sailed. The strongest wind measured in navigation was 57 knots, the highest waves estimated at 4.5 meters. The strongest at mooring was 80 knots. The maximum speed reached (under sail, with motor you go slower) was 9.7 knots. We weren't able to measure the size of the icebergs, but the largest we encountered appeared to be over two hundred meters in length and taller than fifty meters out of the water. There were no more than fifty days of prevailing good weather. For the rest, overcast, rain and fog and towards the end even snow. The internal heating alone consumed about 1,500 liters of diesel, with an average of about ten liters per day. We also consumed around 40 kg. of propane gas for cooking. We consumed about 8,500 liters of fresh water, about 55 liters per day. The only problems suffered are these: eight batteries were changed, reached the end of their life prematurely, the radar, one of the water heating systems (the least important), the generator's water pump failed, then replaced , two electric pumps in the toilets were replaced and superficial damage to the right side was suffered due to ice. There have been no other accidents to people and things, nor diseases, nor psychological conflicts.

In conclusion, not only was the preparation accurate and adequate, but the inevitable incidents were brilliantly resolved. Five months of sailing, and what navigation! with these results they are not just a consequence of luck!


Anchor 1
Leg 1
Tromsø - Reykjavik

1 June 2012 - 11 June 2012

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

Crew: Nanni, Salvatore, Filippo, Loredana, Mariele

After a first part that took place in the fjords south of Tromsø and in those of the Vesteralen in good weather, we stopped in Henningsvaer in the Lofoten and then continued in the Vestfjord up to the Maelstrom, from which we went out into the ocean. The weather deteriorated and we encountered a wave formed by NE and wind up to over 30 knots which however gradually calmed down.

Arriving north of Iceland, the sea temperature dropped to about zero degrees and the sky cleared.

We stopped one night in Isafjordur, where we went through customs, then continued in warmer and calmer weather by motor to Reykjavik. There we met "Jonathan" from Svalbard who would also make the Passage.

Crew in Henningsvaer
Leg 2
Anchor 2
Reykjavik - Nuuk

20 June 2012 - 1 July 2012

Pilot whale

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

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

It is a mainly oceanic navigation stage, first in the Denmark Channel, between Iceland and Greenland, then with the dubbing of Kap Farvel, the extreme south tip of Greenland, which was surrounded up to more than 60 miles away by ice and icebergs from the Arctic. In the ascent of the west coast of Greenland it was not possible to approach and visit the spectacular fjords for a few hundred miles, until the ice that rises along the coast was not thinned.

An essentially and incredibly calm stage. A day of not strong headwind. Fog near and inside the ice. Many sightings of cetaceans and seals. Stop in Paamiut meeting again "Jonathan" and the Italian "Sahula" and then short stop in Avigait. Last two days in the fog.

Leg 3
Anchor 3
Nuuk - Upernavik

6 July 2012 - 16 July 2012

706 miles, 647 motor, 59 sailing.

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

It is a mainly coastal navigation stage, which allowed the visit of the spectacular Greenland coast and some Inuit settlements, the close encounter with the glaciers and icebergs that are generated.

Seals on the pack
Leg 4
Anchor 4
Upernavik - Pond Inlet

19 July 2012 - 26 July 2012

Pond Inlet at midnight

525  miles, 361 motor, 164 sailing.

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

In this stage we went up the Greenlandic coast towards the Gulf of Melville taking advantage of it to see the largest glaciers that descend from the Indlandsis (the Greenlandic ice cap). We then crossed the Gulf of Melville north to land on the Canadian Northwest Territories coast at Pond Inlet, where we entered Canada and made contact with the central part of the Northwest Passage.

Fairly cool wind in the central part of the crossing allowed us to keep a good average.

Anchor 5
Leg 5
Pond Inlet - Gjoa Haven

2 August 2012 - 14 August 2012

1,271 miles, 960 motor, 311 sailing.

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

In this stage we faced the central part of the Northwest Passage, easily blocked by the pack that comes from the Arctic ocean. It was the route that stopped all the expeditions preceding Amundsen's passage in 1903 and which was no longer traveled until the years of the last world war. Here it was necessary to make your way by forcing the passage, both in Baffin Bay and in Lancaster Sound and in the James Ross Strait. The ice forced us to significantly lengthen the course and caused damage to the side of the boat.

The wind helped us in part, otherwise we would have had serious fuel problems. Stops for rest and reflection in Dundas Harbor, Prince Leopold Harbor and Kennedy Bay. In the last 24 hours we have sailed with sun, sleet and rain and dark night, after leaving the midnight sun further north, and with the compass completely useless due to the proximity to the magnetic pole.
The stage ended in Gjøa Haven, where Amundsen spent two winters.

Best in Gjoa Haven
Anchor 6
Leg 6
Gjoa Haven - Tuktoyaktuk

21 August 2012 - 1 September 2012


1,005 miles, 845 motor, 160 sailing.

Crew: Nanni, Salvatore, Pierpaolo, Roberto, Silvano

In this stage we continued to move in the central part of the Northwest Passage, where a multitude of canals, rocks and islands make navigation difficult. After a very interesting and trouble-free passage in the very narrow and intricate Simpson Strait, we allowed ourselves a digression in Terror Bay, where an uncertain signal indicated the possibility of the presence of a submerged wreck, which obviously we did not find. We then stopped at Cambridge Bay, one of the historical places of exploration where the wreck of the Maud rests, which was formerly Amundsen's. There we had the good fortune of being filmed by Google's Street View machines, which immortalized the presence of Best Explorer at the dock. The midnight sun was now just more of a memory. We arrived at the mouth of the immense Mackenzie river with very low banks and scattered with characteristic "pingo" after a few stops in extremely interesting and picturesque bays. From Gjoa Haven onwards we no longer encountered ice as the compass started working again.

Anchor 7
Leg 7
Tuktoyaktuk - Name

10 September 2012 - 19 September 2012

1,242 miles, 923 motor, 319 sailing.

Crew: Nanni, Salvatore, Mauro, Nicoletta

Tuktoyaktuk is an Inuit village at the end of the winter road that crosses Alaska to the north. Here are more than 1,350 "pingos", strange domes of earth and ice (hydrolaccoliths) that form only where there is permafrost, the perpetually frozen soil of the arctic and high mountain regions. They are formed when the water that permeates the surface layer of the soil is expelled upwards by the freezing of the soil. We arrived here earlier than planned, but we stayed longer than expected due to a storm from the NW which raised the water level by a good meter and a half. After leaving Canada we left together with "Dodo Delight" and "Marguerite II". After a brief visit to Thetys Bay behind the island of Herschel, the wintering area of the ancient whaling fleets, we entered US waters by flowing along the coast fronted by slums, with no easy navigation. We did not touch Punta Barrow due to the worsening weather conditions and we continued luckily landing on the flat and inhospitable coast one of us who had to leave. A storm that reached 60 knots made us interesting the next night, while a couple of days later we passed between the two Diomede islands, one American and the other Russian, officially completing the first Italian navigation through the Northwest Passage. . The arrival in Nome with the official entry into the United States took place the following day.

Welcome to Nome
Anchor 8
Name - King Cove

7 October 2012 - 13 October 2012

Leg 8
Storm towards King Cove

924 miles, 636 motor, 288 sailing.

Crew: Nanni, Salvatore, Filippo, Heike, Paola

The stay in Nome lasted for 19 days due to a series of strong depressions that came up from Japan along the Aleutian chain and that continually brought head winds from the southwest, together with "Marguerite II" and "Coriolis", the last boat  to pass this year. The season was advancing and our concern of being frozen in the ice was growing, as it was not possible in any way to leave the boat in Nome. In the end we decided to head to King Cove instead of Dutch Harbor, which seemed more suitable. On the journey we stopped to rest in Kangirlvar Bay where the current played a night joke on us. The sea and wind were quite strong all along, but the temperature, which had gone below zero in Nome, remained acceptable. On the last day, now in the Pacific after crossing the Aleutian chain, we had a wind of 40 knots which made navigation difficult. Arriving at King Cove and well moored, the wind picked up to 80 knots. From there, the return to Italy by air lasted five days, due to the difficult and precarious connections.

Best Explorer in King Cove
bottom of page