After 32 days, 3400 miles (6000 km) ‘struggling against the cold, hunger, and fatigue’, French skipper Guirec Soudée and his pet hen, Monique have put the Northwest Passage behind them.
Guirec, 24, who sails the 11.8-metre (39ft) steel yacht, Yvinec, made the announcement on his Facebook page, saying he believes he is the youngest sailor to have made the crossing single-handed.
He said: ‘One thing’s for sure: Momo is the only chick to do so in the history of hens!’
The Northwest Passage is a sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
In the past, the Northwest Passage was virtually impassable because it was covered by thick, year-round sea ice.
However, in recent years, climate change has allowed commercial traffic to pass through the Arctic Ocean via this once impossible route.
Guirec left his home in Brittany for Australia at the age of 18, with €200 in his pocket, without speaking a single word of English but with an unwavering desire for discovery.
He was given the red hen Monique as a present during a stopover in the Canary Islands and said it was ‘love at first sight’. The pair have attracted media attention from around the world.
Guirec said he was ‘mad with joy’ to reach Nome in Alaska on 1 September 2016.
In a translated account of their adventures, Guirec writes:
‘It was 11pm that night of 31 July when a bit anxious, I noted the anchor in front of the small village of Saqqaq in western Greenland. I had the heart as heavy as the 80 metres of chain that I was pulling. Little by little the fog is installed, the village faded and the visibility became zero.
‘I still can’t believe it, after more than a year I left this country, which has taught me so much. So many things were in the past. The death of my father, my wintering, where several times I thought all was lost, the meeting with this nature so beautiful, so powerful and at the same time so fragile, my new friends with whom I have woven ties eternal uno, lukaka, Julien, Adam and all the others.
‘I left here a part of me, I don’t know when but I’ll be back.
‘You will have gathered, the crossing was not simple. We met a lot of obstacles: plates drifting ice, currents, icebergs, which make the passage of the north west famous and perilous.
‘As if this were not enough to the scale of sensations, an additional difficulty was added for us. Sailing too close to the magnetic pole, the automatic pilot was no longer functional. Forced to stay at the helm to keep our cap. I was sleeping little: 10 minutes by 10 minutes, yvinec at the cape in the middle of this sea of ice. The feeling of insecurity was omnipresent, often we were awakened with a start by the thud of this one who struck the hull.
‘Sometimes in the fog of strange silhouettes very biggest vaguely… worried, I had the sensation of being on the coast and make false road. Mistake! Huge walls of ice stood up abruptly and all of their power in front of us. On Board it was the cavalcade! Need to stop the engine and change of direction in the emergency.
‘In the absence of being hot the sun (when he’s around) we made life more enjoyable. Navigation time no longer exists. Our days were punctuated by the bruises, the purples and the ors, the orange giving landscapes of gaited of watercolours. In the great north the sets are breathtaking. The Bears, seals, Narwhal, and the whales we were escorting. Monique too happy to find some buddies strutted proudly in front of them on the bridge!
‘In the two villages Inuit or we stopped a few hours to make a stop, then again she was a sensation, her eggs also elsewhere! It must be said that the chicks that don’t run the streets up there!
‘After crossing the seas of Baffin, Beaufort, Chukchi… we arrived in Nome, Alaska mad with joy on 1 September 2016.
‘What pride for me to see all this way just travelled with my little boat! Without luggage of teaching (13 schools on the odometer), without experiment and a penny! All this was not won, I can tell you! But I’ve worked hard and I believed it.
‘More than ever today I’m convinced that, with the determination, perseverance and faith it is possible to carry out his plans. Most of the time, our only barriers are the ones that we had to be done, there’s always a good excuse not to get started!
So I hope my adventure will inspire those who doubt or who do not have enough insurance. What they are and where they are: at the end of the world, or in the next street: live your dreams and your passions!
‘As for us, we would have liked for us to rest but we must leave the Bering sea asap because of large depressions announce themselves. We sail a little further south towards Kodiak where we can finally unpack.
‘Then? We reach the Pacific. On the horizon so many things are waiting for us…
Follow their adventures at: www.voyagedyvinec.com
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