The Northeast Passage was one of my favorite sailing routes in Uncharted Waters: Sea Prince and Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. With the arrival of Gran Atlas, the Passage is finally here in Uncharted Waters Online! But how difficult is it to actually sail through the Passage? Here is the story of my efforts to chart UWO’s Northeast Passage…..
I began my third day of charting the Northeast Passage with a good deal of concern. The first adventurers to have gone through Passage have returned with stories of ice floes repeatedly banging up against their ships and have cautioned voyagers to bring plenty of tools and lumber into the Arctic. So far, it seems like I’ve been getting lucky with the ice floes, but will my luck change for the worse?
There’s only one way to find out…..
The western entrance to the Northeast Passage consists of several sea zones: the north Norwegian, the western and eastern Barents Sea, and the White Sea (although Mercator did not requite me to chart the White Sea, I decided to do so anyways). At the western end of the North Norwegian sea lies the port of Narvik, a useful jumping off point for any ships heading into the NE Passage (it’s a supply port, but at least you can get fresh provisions, pickup new sailors, and rest your crew for a bit).
Approaching Narvik, I finally encountered the ice floes that I’ve heard so much about. They began hitting my ship about once every minute, and they can pack quite a punch (approx. 60 – 150 durability per hit)! I decided to use an MCCT to repair the damage and found – to my delightful surprise – that they restore 100 durability per use. After charting my first zone, I also discovered that the damage from ice floes goes down considerably (from 60-150 to 15-25 per hit) after you finish charting a zone (you don’t even have to wait until you’ve turned in the map, the effects apply immediately after you finish the map).
Aside from the ice floes, charting the North Norwegian and the Barents Sea zones was pretty much straightforward. I still encountered the same GvoNavi issues that I had while charting the earlier Arctic zones (the issues seem to begin after I sail north of the 1000 latitude line), but I’ve become quite adept at using the compass and survey skill in order to makeup for this problem.
After finishing the Northern European Coast, I returned to Amsterdam and received the permits for the next region of NE Passage zones – the “Northern Eurasian Coast.” This region more or less lies in the “middle” of the NE Passage and is also where the narrowest parts of the Passage are located. There are three zones in this region: the West and East Kara seas and the Leptev sea. Mangazeya serves as the regional supply port in this area, but sailors wishing to use this port should keep in mind that Mangazeya is located at the mouth of a pretty narrow river.
Fortunately, I’ve been developing my steering skill proficiency, and I was able to steer my ship through the various islands and inlets that dot this portion of the NE Passage. With the exception of the immediate area around Mangazeya, the GvoNavi tracker is also useless in this region. But despite these issues, charting the Northern Eurasian Coast proved to be no more problematic than charting the other regions . And as with the Northern European Coast, the ice floes in this area caused much less damage after I finished charting each sea zone.
After finishing my charts, it was time to return to Amsterdam. During my return trip, I discovered that it was faster to use the Barents Sea zones rather than the White Sea or North Norwegian (I decided to skip Narvik and sail further West across the Barents Sea before making my southern turn towards Bergen). As a result, I managed a twenty one day sail from Mangazeya to Bergen, which isn’t too bad.
Overall, my third day of charting has helped answered at least some of the questions that have been bugging me about the NE Passage. The ice floes were a real pain in the neck at the beginning of each charting voyage, but eventually become more a nuisance rather than an obstacle to sailing through the Passage. I was also able to sail reasonably fast between Narvik and Mangazeya and from Mangazeya back to Bergen. And the MCCTs really performed wonders for ship repair.
Based on all of these developments, it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll be able to traverse the Northeast Passage with a sizable amount of trade goods. My journey. however is not yet finished. Completing the North European Arctic and North Eurasian Coasts means that I’m now about halfway finished towards charting the rest of the Passage. While the Far East end of the Passage looks pretty pretty easy to chart, I’ve noticed that many of the sea zones in this area are wider than the ones in the western portion of the Passage. This won’t affect my ability to chart the Passage, but it may affect any attempt to bring large amounts of trade goods through this Passage.
In other words, I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…..but how far away is it?
…..To Be Continued