By Randi Somers
After successfully maneuvering from east to west through the ice of the Northwest Passage, the classic wooden, custom-made, 86-foot Marconi-rigged Yawl “Nordwind” tied up in Homer harbor Monday and intends to remain here for the winter so she can cruise Alaska waters next summer, according to her Argentinean captain Alex Veccia. She left Camden, Maine July 7.
The Northwest Passage is the route through the Arctic Ocean connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and weaving through the Canadian archipelago. Before leaving Camden, thermal cameras that can identify ice were mounted high in the rigging.
According to her website, Nordwind has set impressive ocean racing records since she was built in Germany. Launched in 1939, she set a record in the Fastnet Race that year which held for 24 years. Since then, she has sailed to remote coasts of many oceans and won many races.
After World War II she was confiscated and sent to England where she was bought by Lord Hugh Astor who raced her for many years in the Solent and on the North Sea. In the late 1970s, Dutch naval architect Gerald Dijksra turned her into one of the earliest classic yacht restoration projects. Work was started in England and Holland. Unfortunately, the restoration of the hull was faulty at the time, hence another complete restoration became necessary which the present owner undertook from 2001 to 2004 in Spain. Except for her interior layout, where some of the modifications made by Dijkstra were maintained, Nordwind has been restored to her original plan.
Her most recent adventure before heading to Alaska, in 2009/10 she rounded Cape Horn, traveled the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, the south coast of Chile, many Pacific island groups and through the Panama Canal and up the coast of North America to Camden, Maine where she was prepared for her passage north and west to Alaska. Veccia said they stopped at Dutch Harbor and Kodiak before sailing on into Homer. She is sailed long distances by her crew and then representatives of the company that owns her, Deutsches Marinemeseum, fly in to enjoy sailing in a variety of remote oceans of the world. Her home port is Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England.
Four of her crew will stay here with her, and two were preparing to fly home shortly after docking.
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