2011-09-15 01:31:20Between St. Roch and a cold place.
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
77.99.164.139

Hello.

I have just uploaded the post with the title shown above but don't know how/if anyone else can see it yet.

Anyway, I have several problems with it !

Firstly, it is very long and I also don't know whether it is any good as it is at the moment. Any ideas as to how I might be able to shorten and improve it ?

Secondly, is it possible to fit the first two pictures side by side ?

Thirdly, I can't work out how to include a graph I have produced using LibreOffice Calc.

Fourthly, I have produced a map using ArcGIS but it doesn't seem to appear every time I preview the post but I don't know, again, how to capture the graphic and upload it to SkS.

Lastly, the final picture is very big but I couldn't find a way to easily reduce the size. Any suggestions ?

Oh, and the links seem to be formatted wrongly and I can't seem to find an easy way to enclose them within the format. Will I have to redo them all ?

 

Anyway, I would be grateful for any feed-back and even if it isn't possible to include it as a SkS post, I may try to it online somewhere, if only for my only future reference.

Thanks for looking.

 

JOHN


Between St. Roch and a cold place ?

Posted on 15 September 2011 by JMurphy

It’s about this time of year (September) - especially after another low for Arctic ice, leading to the opening-up of sea routes through the Northwest (and Northeast) Channel - that some people try to claim that things aren’t that bad really because those routes have been open at various (vaguely specified) times in the past, and certain historical crossings are brought forward (e.g. “The ‘St. Roch’ went through back in the 1940s, so ice-levels must have been low then, too. Things can’t be that unusual now !”) as some sort of argument to try to lessen the seriousness of the sort of levels of Arctic ice that are now prevalent each year. But how valid are such arguments ? I will give details about the ‘St. Roch’ and its trips through the Northwest Passage (taken from the accounts from Henry Larsen, the boat’s captain – see pictures of him and the 'St. Roch' below), and compare them with more recent journeys and conditions, so it can be seen what sort of comparisons can be made.

Henry A Larsen

Henry A Larsen (Photo from http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/larsen_h/larsen_h.html) 

St. Roch

The 'St. Roch' (Photo from http://www.hnsa.org/ships/stroch.htm)

The 'St. Roch' was (indeed, is) an ice-fortified Schooner (altered to a Ketch-rigged vessel) which had a crew of nine, and was built in 1928, for the RCMP to patrol and supply in the Arctic. Its length is 31.2m (104ft), width is 7.5m (25ft), draft is 3.9m (13ft) when fully loaded, depth of hold is 3.3m (11ft), weight is 196.5 tons, and it has a displacement of 323 tons. Motorised power was provided initially by a 6-Cylinder, 150Hp (112Kw) Union diesel engine, which was later upgraded to 300Hp (224Kw) for the second journey. The hull is rounded, to allow ice to slide easily underneath, and it is built from extra-thick timbers of Douglas Fir, sheeted on the outside with Australian “Ironbark” Eucalyptus Gumwood, one of the hardest woods available. It also has a steel plate covering a very sharp Bow (previously 1ft wide), and iron shoeing around the Stern, extending several feet back. The interior hull was reinforced with thick, heavy beams to withstand the ice pressures, and the rudder could be lifted up through a special well, to avoid it being snapped off by the ice.

I.E. it is a big, tough boat, specially designed to travel in icy Arctic waters, and the perfect vessel to use for an attempt at the Northwest Passage. In fact, although it was actually the second ship to sail the Passage (after Roald Amundsen in his 70ft, 48 ton Sloop 'Gjoa', in 1903-06, using the same route), it was the first vessel to sail from West to East (Amundsen went from East to West), in 1940-42 - something thought virtually impossible at the time; the first vessel to complete the Passage in one season, in 1944 - East to West, using the deeper, more Northerly route; and the first vessel to complete the Passage in both directions.

As for the Northwest Passage, it runs across the top of Canada, from the Eastern edge of the Beaufort Sea in the West, to Baffin Bay/the Labrador Sea/Hudson Bay in the East, and the (unsuccessful) search for a way through has been going on for centuries, with European explorers trying for four hundred years to find a route that would have meant a shorter journey to the great riches of the silks and spices of Asia - the prospect of a Northern sea passage from Europe to Asia was thought worth the hardship and hazards.

The first recorded attempt was the East-West voyage of John Cabot in 1497, and various subsequent expeditions (by, most notably, Drake, Cook, Hudson, Parry, Ross, etc.) led to the gradual mapping of the Passage, until Robert McClure (in 1854, and the first to traverse it from West to East, albeit partly by sledge) charted the last major piece. After all this, including up to the early years of the 20th Century, it was finally concluded that commercial shipping was not possible and so interest waned. However, the Passage has become commercially important again because it is now more regularly navigable, although the shortest, most Northerly route – Lancaster Sound, Barrow Strait, McClure Strait, Beaufort Sea - is the least used because heavy ice normally blocks McClure Strait. The most frequent route goes South from Barrow Strait, into Peel Sound and Victoria Strait, then along the coast to the Bering Strait, and Southerly routes are likeliest to be ice-free, but they are also generally the shallowest.

The ‘St. Roch's’ first trip (from West to East) took about 28 months (850 days), starting from Vancouver, B.C. on June 23 1940 and ending at Halifax, N.S. on Oct 11 1942.

The 1940 season was bad, with lots of heavy ice, and they could sometimes see no water : often only small pools with no visible outlet. At times, they used “black gunpowder” (1) to crack floes. On Sep 26 1940 they were frozen in at Walker Bay on the East coast of Victoria Island, and wintered there until July 31 1941.

The Summer of 1941 was also bad with lots of ice, and they didn’t get very far, due to “...ice and violent snow squalls” (2), and a lot of solid ice, so that by Sep 11 they were jammed in by ice close to the beach at Pasley Bay, Boothia Peninsula. In fact, the boat almost capsized within the tight-packed ice : “...nearly lost the ship” (2), according to Larsen. They wintered there from Sep 15 1941 to Aug 04 1942.

During the last Summer (1942), the weather was again bad and things were not much better with regards to ice. They kept getting stuck and found many inlets jammed with ice, as well as lots of moving, loose ice, within which there was not much open water – only small leads. It was a struggle through the ice and more than once they were not certain that the ship would survive. Larsen wrote : “Many times we thought the ship would crack like a nut under the pressure.” (2)

In fact, it wasn't until 1954 that a vessel managed to cross the Passage in the same direction in a single season but Larsen didn’t think that this Southerly route was likely to be commercially viable, and the following is his overall view of the journey :

The three seasons of the short Arctic Summers from 1940-42 had been extremely bad for navigation, the worst consecutive three I had experienced as far as ice and weather conditions were concerned, and in my remaining years in the Arctic I never saw their like. Without hesitation I would say that most ships encountering the conditions we faced would have failed. I also believe that had we missed the single opportunity we had to get out of Pasley Bay, we most certainly would still be there, in small bits and pieces.” (3)

The second trip (East to West) started at Halifax, N.S. on July 22 and ended at Vancouver, B.C. on Oct 16 1944, taking a total of 86 days (travelling 7295 miles), although actually involving 1031 hours, 34 minutes (43 days) of actual sailing.

They went the more Northerly route this time, which is freer of reefs and shallow spots, but they found lots of icebergs and a lot of broken but tightly-packed ice. From the beginning of August, they experienced heavy ice - and made slow progress - as well as lots of floe ice, and drifted in the ice-pack at one stage. They had to seek shelter at times but couldn’t determine their exact location at one point because the weather conditions were so bad. At the end of August they experienced lots of heavy, tightly-packed floes and were prevented from landing due to the ice conditions. A lot of the journey consisted of following up leads and anchoring were they could. They found the heaviest ice of the voyage at the entrance to McClure Strait, where they had to moor themselves to the ice floes, and it was only at the beginning of September that the conditions were noticeably different - so much so that it was noted : “It was really the only fine day we had during the entire passage...” (2). After that, it was back to the heavy, tightly-packed ice-fields and the bad weather, with hurricane-force winds almost capsizing the boat before they were able to find shelter. In fact, the “...season was the worst in years.” (1) (2)

However, afterwards Larsen stated that the route was “...the better of the two. This route will no doubt be used in the future.” (2); and “...I was sure this would become the Northern route of the future.” (3) He was predicting that the Northerly route would be more commercially viable but his main recommendation was to “...watch the ice movements and be in the right spot at the right time.” (1) Advice still valuable today, although, as will be seen, luck plays less of a part with modern voyages in the region, due to the dearth of dangerous ice.

Generally, though, from reading the accounts, both journeys were very tough and even the quicker, more Northerly crossing was completed more due to determination, skill and luck, than to there being lots of open-water or favourable sailing conditions. In fact, neither journey would have been attempted under normal circumstances - as Larsen himself admitted in 15 Nov 1957, in a memo to the RCMP Commissioner: “...had it not been for the war, we would never have had the occasion or opportunity to make this passage.” (4) The trips were accomplished because of the special circumstances of the Second World War, and not because of any general opening-up of the Passage at that time due to melting, etc., or to the sort of conditions which have become more prevalent in that region today. Basically, the ‘St. Roch’s’ achievements are even more remarkable and noteworthy, because they involved human endeavour against odds which were greatly stacked against them as far as the ice and weather were concerned.

(The map below shows both of the voyages of the 'St. Roch' - the first journey represented by the Red line and pin marker; the second by the Orange  dashed line and pin marker as well as the intended route of the cruise ship 'Clipper Adventurer' [See Below] in Sep 2011 : Green dashed line and pin marker. The Yellow line shows the ice-extent on 8 Sep 2011.)

St Roch
View Larger Map

Since the first crossing by Amundsen in 1903, there have been at least 260 transits up to 2010 : 3 up to 1950; around 155 from 1951 to 2000; and at least 120 from 2001 to 2010. (Full details of political and military aspects, including lists of passages, available herehere, hereherehere, and hereThis link even includes detailed instructions for those who wish to sail the passage themselves.)

Some examples :

1977 – First single-handed yacht to transit Northwest Passage in one season : 'Williwaw', a 14.45m Bm Ketch.

1984 – First passenger cruise ship to make the transit : ‘Lindblad Explorer’.

1991-94 – First woman to paddle solo in a Kayak : Victoria Jason.

Aug 2000 – ‘St. Roch II’, an RCMP 20m twin-hulled light Aluminium catamaran (previously called ‘Nadon’) followed the original ‘St. Roch’s’ 1940-42 West to East route. It had an ice-breaker with it and the passage took three weeks : the ice-breaker was not needed, and they only saw a few ice-bergs and some small floes.

2001 – Northabout : Irish Northwest Passage Expedition, in a 15m aluminium sailing boat. (Included to celebrate my Irish ancestry !)

18 July 2003 - 'Norwegian Blue', a 13m Bermudan Cutter, became the first British yacht to transit the Northwest Passage from West to East in one season, completing the passage in two months. (Included on the recommendation of someone I met on a train to Cornwall, who knew the owner – small world, eh ?)

2007 - Sailing-vessel ‘Cloud Nine’, a 17m Bowman ketch - The first American sailing boat to complete the passage from East to West, containing possibly the oldest man to do the journey ! Completed the journey in 45 days – “There was hardly any ice”, he told the Wall Street Journal.

2007 - James Allison,sailing in the 14.5m fibreglass Bowman 'Luck Dragon', said he felt a bit of a fraud after completing the trip because there wasn’t any ice.

2007 - A lightweight 7.5m x 5m catamaran, the Babouche, successfully navigated the full length of the 5,150km (3,200-mile) waterway. “This is the first time the journey has been completed entirely by sail... Not so long ago, ...this journey would have been impossible because of the ice”.

Nov 2008 – MV Camilla Desgagnes, Super Ice-Class vessel, is the first commercial ship to sail through the Northwest Passage - delivered sea-lift cargo from the East - normally comes from the West. Did it without an ice-breaker. Waguih Rayes, General Manager – “…I didn’t see one cube of ice.” “…there was no ice whatsoever…”.

2009 - 'Silent Sound' a 12m cutter rig sailing boat completed the passage.

Sep 2010 – "The Canada Border Services Agency says 18 ships have cleared customs in Inuvik, N.W.T. - at the western end of the Northwest Passage - so far this year, and the navigation season is not even over yet. By comparison, only seven ships cleared customs there in 2009, according to the agency.”

2010 – An 11m RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) completes the passage.

2010 - A Russian crew aboard the 18m yacht 'Peter I' sailed around the Arctic, passing through the Northeast and Northwest Passages during one sailing season with no ice-breaker assistance. The first time in seafaring history. Or was it...

2010 - Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland and skipper Thorleif Thorleifsson onboard the sailboat ‘Northern Passage’ made the first full circle navigation of the Polar Basin. Their route took them through both the Northeast and Northwest passages. The expedition used a small trimaran made of fibreglass, with a 10Hp outboard as their only engine. ”Less than 10 years ago the first steel hulled sailboat managed to get through just one of the passages, and 100 years ago a circumnavigation would have taken six years”.

2010 - "Luxury yacht turns heads while sailing Northwest Passage".

It's obviously getting easier, but perhaps not as easy as some amateurs may imagine :

2010 – “Amateur sailors are setting course for the legendary Northwest Passage, but some are ill-equipped and unprepared for the challenges of sailing in the North, Canadian Coast Guard authorities say”.

Fancy a cruise along the Northern Northwest Passage ? Try this :

September 1-17, 2011 - “Out of the Northwest Passage” aboard the 'Clipper Adventurer'.

Sep 2011 – A home-made Russian boat, the trimaran 'Rus', is now heading through the Northwest Passage.

2011 – The 9.3m GPR boat 'Beelzebub II' is “...attempting a unique passage in that we plan on going much further up the West Coast of Greenland to the highest latitude possible before turning south following the coast of Ellesmere Island and instead of crossing Devon Island to the south by entering Lancaster Sound to reach Resolute which is the “traditional route” we will attempt to pass Devon Island to the North through Jones Sound, then join up with Norwegian bay to meet Northumberland Sound to sail down to Resolute from where we will evaluate the ice charts and either join up to Peel Sound or continue along the Viscount Melville Sound.”

"Interesting Fact : In May 2010, a gray whale was observed in the Mediterranean Sea off Israel and the same individual was sighted again a month later off Barcelona, Spain. It is impossible to know if this record of a single individual is indicative of a mounting reoccupation of the historic range (especially in light of receding sea ice in the Northwest and Northeast Passage) or simply represents an extraordinary event."

Etc., etc. There are plenty more stories about crossings out there, especially since the year 2000, and the following graph shows how the numbers have been increasing over the years :

Transits

(The above graph has been produced and adapted from a similar graph and the list of transits given in The Arctic - The Physical Environment : Kyle D. Christensen)

But what about the state of the ice these days ?

Sep 2011 - “Sea ice is now almost completely gone from the channels of the Northwest Passage, with the exception of a small strip of ice across a stretch of the Parry Channel. The southern route (Amunden's Route) is ice free. According to the Canadian Ice Service, sea ice extent in the western Parry Channel is now the lowest at this time of year since record keeping began in 1966 and very little multi-year ice remains.”

Northwest Passage 12 Sep 2011

(Graphic from http://www.natice.noaa.gov/press_releases/images/northwest_passage_20110912.jpg)

Oct 2010 - "The U.S. National Ice Center declared both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route open for a period during September. Stephen Howell of Environment Canada reported a record early melt-out and low extent in the western Parry Channel region of the Northwest Passage, based on analyses of the Canadian Ice Service."

Aug 2008 - “The direct route through the Northwest Passage...is currently almost free of ice, while the indirect route, called the Amundsen Northwest Passage, has been passable for almost a month. This is the second year in a row that the most direct route through the Northwest Passage has opened up.”

Summer 2008 - "This year marked the first time since satellite measurements began in the 1970s that the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, and the Northwest Passage were both open at the same time for a few weeks."

Summer 2007 - “Arctic sea ice receded so much that the fabled Northwest Passage completely opened for the first time in human memory.”

McClure Strait 31 Aug 2007

("Envisat ASAR image of the McClure Strait in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, acquired on 31 August 2007. The McClure Strait is the most direct route of the Northwest Passage and has been fully open since early August 2007.”)

UB

(Graphic above, from the University of Bremen, shows Arctic ice extent on Sep 15 2011)

I think it’s easy to see that conditions in the Northwest Passage these days, and the wide-ranging types of vessels that are able to pass through it, show without much doubt that no valid comparison can be made between the ‘St. Roch’s’ completions of the passage back in the 1940s and the numerous transits that can be made today – the former took a mind-set that is arguably little in evidence today (self-sacrifice, ideals, patriotism, etc.), while the latter show how virtually anyone can accomplish the passage these days.

Numbered References

(1) The Conquest of the North West Passage : The Arctic Voyages of the St. Roch, 1940-44 – Inspector Henry A. Larsen, R.C.M.P

The Georgraphical Journal, Vol CX Nos 1-3, July – September 1947

ISSN 0016-7398

LCCN 2002227357

CODEN GGJOAR

http://www.jstor.org/pss/1789190

(2) The North-West Passage, 1940-42 and 1944 : The Famous Voyages of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Schooner “St. Roch”

Sergeant Henry Larsen, F.R.G.S., Commander Edmond Cloutier, C.M.G., O.A., D.S.P.

Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery

Ottowa, 1958

Cat. No. J62-1058

(1st Edition - 1948)

(3) The Big Ship – An Autobiography by Henry A. Larsen, in co-operation with Frank R. Sheer and Edward Omholt-Jensen.

McClelland & Stewart Ltd

Toronto

1967

(4) Why the St. Roch ? Why the Northwest Passage ? Why 1940 ? New answers to old questions.

S.D. Grant – Arctic, Vol. 46, No. 1 (March 1993), Pp 82-87

arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/1326/1351

Arctic Institute of North America

Additional References used

(1)  Arctic Labyrinth : The Quest of the Northwest Passage

Glyn Williams

Allen Lane/Penguin

2009

 

(2)  Plowing the Arctic

G.J. Tranter

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

1945

2011-09-15 02:11:04the post
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Between St. Roch and a cold place ?

2011-09-15 03:34:47That's the one !
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
77.99.164.139

Sorry if I was being a bit daft for not actually providing the link !

Anyway, I have managed to sort out the links and am just trying to find a way to include the graph I mention in red in the post.

Actually, I'm sure a lot more needs to be done (especially to shorten it) but I would still welcome any feedback.

As I say, I will not be disappointed if this is not used on SkS, because it has given me the opportunity to gather all the information together anyway, and I'm sure I will use it even if no-one else gets to see it !

 

JOHN

 

PS Could probably do with a better title too...

2011-09-15 10:19:49
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

If you can email me or Dana the graph we can get it inserted.

yooper49855@hotmail.com

2011-09-15 20:42:24
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Added the graphic.

Either I or dana can tweak the formatting & tighten up the spacings.  I'll have a few minutes tonight that I can do that unless dana beats me to it.  :)

2011-09-15 21:49:43
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
81.144.132.166

Thanks Daniel - however you did it ! (Any hints ?)

The only problems I can see now - apart from the formatting and spacings, as you mention - is that the first graphic (which shows routes and ice-extent) can be zoomed in and out of, whereas I would prefer just a static picture - any ideas ? Also, the last graphic would be best if it could be clicked onto, to see a bigger picture, and I thought I had uploaded a version of it but it was quite big. However, now I'm not entirely sure what the name of the file was or whether I uploaded the full version. Do you know of any way I can find the file again on SkS ?

Thanks for everything so far, anyway.

 

JOHN

2011-09-16 09:17:22
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

1.  For screen-grabs I use a nifty bit of freeware called MWSnap (available here).  Doesn't capture stills of video, but can handle almost anything else.  And the price is right...

2.  Made your fixes to the graphics; tweaked the paragraph formatting and font sizes a bit.  Font type style still off, so maybe John or dana can fix that (my fix is to copy everything into Wordpad and then back into the editor window, but that strips off the hyperlinks, so lets avoid that).

2011-09-16 22:03:51
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
213.120.211.100

Thanks for the info concerning MWSnap - looks interesting and useful, and, as you say, a great price !

Thanks also for the help with the formatting. Is there a way I can do it within SkS ? I can't find any information about text or line (spacing, etc.) formatting when I am writing anything here - although when I load up my post to edit it, there is a brief view of some of that information before it disappears and the post is then ready to be edited.

If it looks like it will take a long time to format properly, don't worry about it - I will have a go by doing as you suggest with Wordpad, and then put all the links back in.

 

Thanks again.

2011-09-21 01:20:26
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
213.120.211.100

I have just read a few uses of the voyage of the St. Roch as 'proof' that the Northwest Passage was open back in the 40s (and also open in the first few years of the 1900s, because Amundsen went through then), so there is nothing to worry about ! Alright, it was on WUWT but, even if you don't use my piece, someone needs to write something on that subject so I (or anyone else) can link to it from this site. It's that time of year again, after all...

2011-09-21 10:42:29
michael sweet

sweetdreamfiji@hotmail...
71.180.58.199

Did Larsen have any observations on how thick the ice was in the 40's?  It might be interesting to mention thickness in addition to extent.

I like the idea of this post.  I have seen several skeptics who cite the St. Roch as proof the ice was thin in 1940.

2011-09-21 22:01:56North West passage argument
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
123.211.208.191

I seem to see this argument come up every now and then. John, what do you think of this idea? We make "north west passage has been navigated in the past" a climate myth (if it's not already) and this post could be the intermediate version. But what do you think of also writing a shorter version as the Basic Version? It is quite long and would be great to have a short version with a one-liner summary - and launch both at the time of the publishing of this blog post?

2011-09-22 07:20:27
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
77.99.164.139

OK, John - that sounds good to me. I will try to get something sorted out by this weekend.

 

Michael, I will have to refer to my notes (and maybe even back to the original source material, if necessary) but I think the main thing I got from reading Larsen's account was the fact that the ice was thick and widespread. I tried to give an impression of that in the original post (especially by referring to Larsen's belief that they only just made both journeys and that other ships trying the journey may well have failed because of the extreme conditions), but I will try to highlight that more in the shorter version.

2011-09-26 08:25:30Basic version
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
77.99.164.139

I now have a basic version of the St. Roch post :

 

The short answer to the above question is 'No'. Anyone relying on the fact that the Northwest Passage was crossed in the 1940s, to claim that the Passage obviously must have been ice-free then (as it is regularly these days), is not being truly sceptical, but is relying on half-truths to confirm a pre-conceived belief. If you want to know the facts, try to read the original sources, as I have.

These are the basic details, from the original account given in the sources listed at the end.

The first voyage through the Northwest Passage by the 'St. Roch' took about 28 months (850 days), between June 23 1940 and Oct 11 1942. The voyage itself certainly wasn't meant as a non-stop attempt, because they had duties to perform as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police ship, but it did get frozen in on two occasions (from mid/late September to July/Aug 1940 and 1941), and the description of the journey refers often to heavy, packed ice and a scarcity of consistent open water - as well as the use of gunpowder to create breaks in the ice. In fact, the overall description of the conditions experienced during the journey (given by Henry Larsen, the Captain of the boat, in his autobiography - see below) reveals how bad it was :

 "The three seasons of the short Arctic Summers from 1940-42 had been extremely bad for navigation, the worst consecutive three I had experienced as far as ice and weather conditions were concerned, and in my remaining years in the Arctic I never saw their like. Without hesitation I would say that most ships encountering the conditions we faced would have failed. I also believe that had we missed the single opportunity we had to get out of Pasley Bay, we most certainly would still be there, in small bits and pieces."

So, not ice-free at all.

The second journey took a total of 86 days (from July 22 to Oct 16 1944), although it actually involved 43 days of actual sailing. That certainly sounds like it was more straightforward and sounds like it may have involved steaming through an ice-free Passage, doesn't it ? Well, the reality is rather different. The description again is of heavy, tightly-packed ice and atrocious weather - so much so that the only really fine day was actually noted in the account. Again, most of the open water they experienced consisted of leads between the ice, which they had to follow as far as they could before anchoring on the ice to shelter from the persistently bad weather. It was reported by Larsen that that particular season was "the worst in years."

Again, hardly ice-free by any description.

In fact, as Larsen himself later acknowledged, the only reason the voyages were attempted had nothing to do with any widespread opening-up of the Passage and everything to do with WWII and Canada's determination to re-iterate its sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, and its concern to show that there were no physical obstacles to prevent it defending its territory.

Compare those voyages above with more recent ones : such as the 'St. Roch II'catamaran, which did the journey in 2000 in three weeks and encountered very little ice; the 'Cloud Nine' ketch, which completed the journey in 45 days in 2007, encountering "hardly any ice"; the 'Babouche', which completed the journey completely by sail for the first time; the Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) which completed the journey in two weeks in 2010; and the yacht and trimaran which traversed both the Northwest and Northeast Passages in one season. You can eventake a cruise along those waters these days, if you fancy it.

And compare those 1940s conditions with those more usual now : such as 2007, when the Northwest Passage demonstrably opened up for the first time officially recorded; 2008, when both the Northwest and Northeast Passages demonstrably both opened up at the same time for the first time officially recorded; 2010 and2011, when the Northwest Passage was officially open again. Have a look at the satellite pictures here and here to see what it looks like.

All in all, the Northwest Passage has most definitely been open and ice-free in recent years (and is nowadays more regularly open and navigable); and there is no proof whatsoever that it was ice-free back in the 40s (or, indeed, in any other recent period) - but definitely wasn't open and ice-free when the 'St. Roch' made its difficult transits.

 

Sources :

**The Conquest of the North West Passage : The Arctic Voyages of the St. Roch, 1940-44 – Inspector Henry A. Larsen, R.C.M.P.                                                                                          The Geographical Journal, Vol CX Nos 1-3, July – September 1947                                       (The first page is accessible for free at : http://www.jstor.org/pss/1789190)

**The North-West Passage, 1940-42 and 1944 : The Famous Voyages of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Schooner “St. Roch”
Sergeant Henry Larsen, F.R.G.S., Commander Edmond Cloutier, C.M.G., 1958

**The Big Ship : An Autobiography by Henry A. Larsen, in co-operation with Frank R. Sheer and Edward Omholt-Jensen, 1967

 

http://skepticalscience.com/StRoch2.html

 

As usual,  I would welcome any feedback, thoughts, ideas,  etc.

 

JOHN

 

PS If both/either of the versions are accepted, how do they get seen by everyone, to decide whether they are good enough to get published or not ?

2011-09-26 09:41:09
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

They'll show up in the Basic and Intermediate tabs for the rebuttal, JMurphy.

2011-09-27 22:47:51
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
178.100.73.170

OK, Dana, but what I was trying to discover was how do I find out if either of them are any good to be published on SkS, or how do they become rebuttals - if that is what they are to be ?

2011-09-28 01:26:54
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I added the myth "Northwest passage has been navigated in the past" to the rebuttals database.  So you just need to go into the rebuttals list and claim the Basic and Intermediate versions, then paste your rebuttals in there.  It's the last on the list - #199 (we're almost to 200 myth rebuttals!).  Once that's done, we'll make them go live, and you can put links to them at the end of your blog post.

2011-09-30 06:03:41
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
77.99.164.139

OK, Dana, thanks for your help. Have created the rebuttals.

2011-09-30 13:47:51
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

Ok here's the updated post:

Between St. Roch and a cold place

2011-10-05 01:24:28
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
213.120.211.100

Looks good - Thanks.

Hope it stands up to scrutiny !

2011-10-05 01:34:00
JMurphy
John Murphy
aphex30@hotmail...
213.120.211.100

Actually, the only discrepancy I can see is that it doesn't show my most recent editing (only slight ones to do with grammar, etc.) and still shows a reference to the month of September which I got rid of last week, if I remember rightly. Can it be amended to the latest version ? I promise not to make any more changes...unless told to !

2011-10-05 02:10:32
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Go ahead and edit as you like, JMurphy.  You're the author so you should have free reign.