Charting the Northeast Passage Part 5 – End in Sight

The Northeast Passage was one of my favorite sailing routes in Uncharted Waters 1 and 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…..


For my fifth and final day of charting the NE Passage, I decided to sail west via the Panama Canal to Japan. I’m not sure if I really saved too much time doing this (it took 66 in-game days for me to sail from Amsterdam to Edo via the canal), but I figured it’d be a break from the Arctic sailing. From Edo I sailed northwards to Petropavlosk, a supply port on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the eastern terminus of the Northeast Passage.
The Bering Sea region consists of the western and eastern Bering sea zones, the Kamchatka coastal waters, and the Sea of Okhotsk. This section of the NE Passage yields ALOT of adventure exp and fame, but it is also one of the most dangerous regions to chart. Ice floes, for example, can damage your ship for up to 140 durability. The good news, however, is that the GvoNavi course tracker WORKS for the ENTIRE region (so at least you have won’t worry about that issue!).


As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become quite used to charting the sea zones, and the Bering Sea quests were more difficult to complete than quests in the other regions of the Passage. Petropavlosk is also conveniently located between the different zones in the Bering Sea, allowing me to break up my charting trips. After finishing my charts for the Bering Sea, I returned to Amsterdam to receive my “Sea Passage Pioneer” title from Mercator.


In hindsight, my journey to chart the Northeast Passage was not as difficult as I imagined it would be. Although I did not expect to have GvoNavi issues while traversing the Passage, the ice floes that I had heard so much about proved to not be so problematic as I had feared, especially after completing the charts for each region. And although I am still unsure if the NE Passage will make a viable alternative to sailing around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope (especially with a full load of trade goods), nothing can take away the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a long but rewarding grind.


In closing, I decided to put together a number of some general tips for anyone who is interested in charting the Northeast Passage. While these tips are meant to be a “guide” of sorts for charting the Passage, most UWO players will probably be familiar with these suggestions, since many of them are also part of basic sailing and adventuring knowledge in UWO:


1. Bring a fast, durable ship into the NE Passage.

Your ship will be hitting a lot of ice floes in the Passage, so you want to bring a ship that has durability to withstand those hits, but you also want a ship that’s fast and nimble enough for sailing in around various inlets, islands, and choke points. Clippers are good ships for this purpose (I personally used a Big Trading Clipper with Emergency Acceleration). Aide ships on the other hand are not affected by the ice floes, so you bring whichever aide ship you wish to use for the Passage.


2. Bring LOTS of lumber (or MCCTs/LCCTs), vigor food, and ducats.

The Arctic supply ports do not contain banks or taverns, and you don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere without money, supplies, or energy to get back home. Like everything else in UWO, planning and preparation will save you time and stress later.


3. Make sure you have the repair, recognition, AND survey skills (or their substitutes) BEFORE heading into the NE Passage.

This is pretty self-explanatory. The steering skill is also very useful for charting the Passage (especially if you’re using a bigger ship with a slower turning speed), as well as the emergency acceleration skill If you have the necessary prerequisites.


4. Don’t forget to switch to an adventure job BEFORE heading into the NE Passage.

You’ll earn lots of adventure exp – and a decent amount of adventure fame – from charting the Passage, so you don’t want to lose out on the extra exp and fame because you forgot to change your job.


5. If you want to earn even more adventure exp and fame, do adventure-related Oxford theses while you’re charting the NE Passage.

Any adventure-related thesis will do here, although many players prefer to do the “Shipwreck History” thesis because it yields plenty of adventure exp and fame for simply sailing around (you will need to rank either the salvage or haul skill to level 2 before you can do this thesis, however).


6. Bring Secret No-War Pacts (Blue Flags) if you don’t want to deal with pirates.

The NPC pirate fleets in the Arctic are both huge and powerful, and they are also located in strategic positions in the NE Passage (including near quest objectives). Unless you’re planning on bringing a high-end warship into the NE Passage, you may want to consider investing in (or trading for) blue flags. I know this may mean having to spend real money in order to purchase these in the astro shop, but for most players blue flags will make the difference between a tedious but otherwise routine journey or a stressful, frustrating experience in the NE Passage.


7. The GvoNavi course tracker does not really work in the NE Passage.

GvoNavi, it seems, will start glitching as soon as you sail above the 1000 horizontal line. This means that you will need to rely on your in-game compass and survey skill for a good deal of the NE Passage. You may want use a UWO world map with an x-y (i.e. horizontal-vertical) grid in order to make your journey through the NE Passage much easier (that way, you can manually track your current position and destination on the world map by using your survey skill coordinates).

*UPDATE* (2/21/2015): There’s a new edition of GvoNavi available from the OGPlanet Forum that is supposed to fix this problem.


8. You DO NOT have to chart the entire NE Passage in one day.

Even if you follow all of the above suggestions, charting the NE Passage can still feel like a repetitive grind, so if you’re feeling burned out, take a break and go do something else for awhile. On the other hand, if you’re feeling up to it, you can probably chart the entire NE Passage within a day (one of the more experienced players in UWO was able to chart the NE Passage in eight hours), but be careful. Even though charting the sea zones will eventually become routine, you do not want to end up crashing into a random inlet somewhere in the Passage or running out of something in the middle of nowhere. As the Ben Franklin adage goes, “haste makes waste”


My journey to chart the Northeast Passage has finally come to an end! Although I can continue charting the rest of the world map, I’ve decided to take a break from map charting and other adventure stuff and focus on other things in Uncharted Waters Online. I’m curious to see what’s new in the dungeons (particularly Bordeaux dungeon), and I’m also working towards unlocking the rest of the East Asia ports for Nanban trading (I’m currently focusing on China). And at some point, I’m probably going to take a short break from UWO (I have family visiting next week, so I’ll probably be taking my break from the game around that time).


Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed my quest to unlock the Northeast Passage, and I hope that the Gran Atlas updates will help encourage other players to try out adventuring in UWO. If nothing else, unlocking the Northeast Passage has also helped me keep up with my blog posts (which if anyone reading has noticed has been pretty stop-and-go since I began my UWO blog about a year ago). And it’s also refreshing to be writing about the more positive aspects of UWO for a change (the “Uncharted Drama” is still around of course, but that’s why we have world chat and the OGPlanet forums 😀 ).


Mahalo to everyone who has been following my blog entries, and to my fellow UWO players, I wish you all good luck and Happy Sailing!


Mahalo Nui Loa to KOEI and OGPlanet for making Gran Atlas available on GAMMA server and to all the players in Uncharted Waters Online who have been sharing their knowledge about Gran Atlas and the Northeast Passage in world chat and the forums.


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