Canada: Northwest Passage Claims Yacht

The Canadian Coast Guard has issued a warning of ice risk in the NW passage due to heavier than normal ice conditions. French-flagged Sailing vessel “Anahita” has sunk in Ballot Straight.

Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago

This information reported by:

On the evening of the 28 August the French-flagged yacht “Anahita”, an aluminum Ovni 345, sank in Ballot Strait of the Northwest Passage. The disaster occurred in Depot Bay, just east of Bellot Strait. According to initial information, the ship was trapped by drifting sea ice from which it could not escape.

The course of “Anahita” from Nuuk on the coast of Greenland went via Baffin Bay to Pond Inlet and on to the entrance of Bellot Strait. There the skipper allowed the yacht to get into floating sea ice and sink.

Under the pressure of the ice and current of Bellot Strait, the “Anahita” then ruptured and began leaking resulting in sinking. The crew, two Argentines, had to flee to the drifting sea ice floes. However, they still managed to drop an emergency call and activate the EPIRB of the boat. It sent just long enough for the Canadian SAR in Trenton Ontario station to start a rescue operation.

Both men have since been taken in by other nearby yachts who responded to the “Mayday”. And this despite the fact that all the crews presently in the region with their yachts have had a great need to bring themselves and their ships to safety in the last hours in front of rising drifts of sea ice floes.

Also, a tug and an icebreaker had been ordered to the scene. The icebreaker is likely to need more than 11 hours to reach the scene of the accident.

The “Anahita”, an aluminum Ovni 345, had recently been specially converted for the journey into the ice – details not available at publish time.

The Anahita, like about a dozen other yachts, was on its way east-west through the Northwest Passage. This summer, however, the ice in the Arctic is persistent. Unlike in previous years, so far there has not been a clear path. So the crews had no choice but to practice patience. Or turn around.  That’s exactly what the Canadian authorities have urged all crews in recent days. It is not foreseeable that the passage would open at all this year. On the contrary, the current ice situation for yachts is dangerous. The crews should either move their ships back south or look for a safe hibernation port in Baffin Bay or Greenland,

The skipper of the “Anahita”, Pablo David Saad, had deliberately ignored the official warning and instead oriented himself to the skipper of another yacht, who has travelled the passage several times and who had been hoping in the last few days still for a withdrawal of the ice. Saad has been long-distance sailing for several years with changing crews. He as well as his current companion come from San Martín de Los Andes, a city in southwestern Argentina near the border with Chile.

Four days before the incident…

The Canadian Coast Guard service published the following warning:

Good morning, Due to heavier than normal ice concentrations in the Canadian Arctic waters north of 70 degrees, the Canadian Coast Guard, recommends that pleasure craft does not navigate in the Beaufort Sea, Barrow, Peel Sound, Franklin Strait and Prince Regent. CCG icebreakers cannot safely escort pleasure craft. Operators of pleasure craft considering a northwest passage should also consider the risk of having to winter in a safe haven in the Arctic, or in the case of an emergency, be evacuated from beset vessels. Safety of mariners is our primary concern.


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  1. October 1, 2018 at 7:06 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    They were rescued, they have contacted their family here in Argentina.