Mike Horn and his crew finally started sailing through ice today! They all had been impatiently waiting for this moment. Ice navigation is a lot more complex than one can imagine. So far they’ve been talking about the drop-off at 85 degrees and they put together what seems like the most accessible course by pinpointing progressive GPS waypoints in order for them to reach a point of departure that suits both Borge and Mike. This process needs to be repeated and recalculated on a daily basis because of the drifting of the sea ice. Meaning that every day new satellite images come in and new GPS waypoints need to be pinpointed to define their new itinerary for the day. A process like this would be impossible without the new satellite communications system Speedcast installed on the boat.
There is a very small margin for error when it comes to finding that ideal departure spot. They need to sail as far north as possible without risking to get the boat stuck in the ice, but they also have to sail far enough north to find thick enough ice for Borge and Mike to safely start their expedition on, which is why every degree counts in these conditions. If they do not manage to make it to (or close enough to) 85 degrees North, Borge and Mike will have no choice but to give up on their expedition.
Climate change also has an effect on the success of this expedition. The ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been melting at a staggering speed. The quest to achieve the latitude of 85 degrees degree North in a sailing vessel would have never been possible in the past. No sailing vessel has ever passed the mark of 85 degrees North because of the sea ice would have prevented them from reaching that latitude sooner. Ironically, the success of this expedition is in correlation to the melting sea and should as a consequence also serve as a warning of the increasing issues of climate change.
That is also why Mike finds it important to share this journey with as many people as possible through words, photos and videos, because this part of the world deserves to be spoken about and cared for.
Be sure to follow Mike Horn’s progress, tracked by Speedcast’s communications equipment, at Mike Horn’s Homepage.