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.

Charting the Northeast Passage Part 4 – Siberian Sailing

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…..


After receiving my new permits in Amsterdam, I sailed back into the Russian Arctic to begin my fourth day of charting the NE Passage. The charting quests are now becoming quite routine – and even repetitive. Alot of sailing here-and-there, fishing along the way, and stopping over at the supply ports to resupply for another trip. On this day, my goal was to chart the sea zones in Siberia – Kotelny Island, the East Siberia Sea, and the Chukchi Sea (the Chukchi Sea also covers the northern part of the Bering Straits). As in the Northern Euraisan region, many of my map chart quests required me to sail into inlets or around islands, requiring a certain amount of tight sailing. The ice floes in the Chukchi Sea were also more damaging than those in the western parts of the NE Passage. The good news is that the GvoNavi program finally began to work again in the Chukchi Sea.

 
After sucessfully completing all the charts for the Siberian sea zones, I made my way back to Amsterdam via Tiksi (supply port for the Siberian part of the NE Passage) and Bergen. In Amsterdam, I received my last set of permits for the NE Passage from Mercator: Kamchatka, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Bering Seas.

 

My journey to chart the Northeast Passage is almost done….

 

…..To Be Concluded

Charting the Northeast Passage Part 3 – Into the “Danger” Zones

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

Charting the Northeast Passage Part 2 – North By Northwest

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 travel through? Here is the story of my efforts to chart UWO’s Northeast Passage…..


My journey to unlock the Northeast Passage continues. As with any journey, there will be surprises – both good and bad. But as far as the second day goes, there were few if any surprises. Much of the map charting has become routine – steering the ship here and there and fishing (or shall I say “trawling”) along the way.

 

Perhaps the biggest surprise I’ve run into so far seems to be with the GvoNavi program (in case anyone reading this doesn’t know, GvoNavi works like a “GPS” app for UWO). GvoNavi is a very convenient program to use in UWO – especially if you’re going to be sailing thousands of miles into the ocean. What I’ve noticed, however, is that when my ship reaches a certain area (somewhere above the Arctic Circle perhaps?), I’m no longer able to track the ship in GvoNavi. At least not in its actual location. It’s kinda like a compass going haywire as a ship approaches the magnetic north pole.

 

Aside from the GvoNavi issues, however, everything else went smoothly during my second day of map charting. Today’s efforts – as my title suggests – required me to sail NORTHWEST of the NE Passage and chart three sea zones located between Iceland and Greenland. Why Mercator requires me to do this first before tackling the NE Passage itself I have no idea. But I guess these quests are meant to be like an audition, a chance to make sure that I’m ready to tackle the more difficult sea zones in the NE Passage.

 


The three zones I charted on my second day were the Icelandic and Denmark Basins and the Fram Strait. Icelandic and Denmark are pretty much “ocean” zones, zones that are relatively easy to chart since you don’t have to worry about running into land or ice. Charting the Fram Strait however proved to be a bit more challenging than the two Basins. As in the Lofoten Basin, my GvoNavi failed to work correctly at the Fram Strait, forcing me to rely again on the good ‘ole compass and survey skill window. I was also expecting to run into the dreaded ice floes at Fram but none turned up. A couple of my charting quests forced me to sail pretty close to the ice pack, but I was able to successfully complete the quests despite these closer encounters with the polar ice.  In the end, charting the Fram Strait proved to be a much easier task than I had expected.
After finishing the charts, it was time to head back to Mercator in Amsterdam and turn in the new information. My reward for doing so was the permit for the first sea zones that are actually in the Northeast Passage!


So far, it looks like I’ve been very lucky with my map charting. I haven’t run into any ice floes yet, and there’s been little trouble otherwise on the open sea. But how long will my luck hold, especially now that I’m actually going to enter the Northeast Passage?

 

Will I finally run into the ice floes that I’ve been hearing so much about?

How long will it take for me to chart these new zones?

Will I be within easy reach of supplies?

And will all the time and trouble I’m spending to unlock the Passage be really worth it in the end?

 

The answers to all of these questions await me in the Barents Sea…

 

 

….To Be Continued

Charting the Northeast Passage Part 1 – St. Petersburg and the First Arctic Regions

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 travel through? Here is the story of my efforts to chart UWO’s Northeast Passage…..


My first day of trying to unlock the Northeast Passage was mostly spent doing other things in order to actually begin unlocking the Passage.

 
My first goal was to unlock the port of Saint Petersburg in the Baltic Sea. Unlocking Saint Petersburg – as with unlocking the rest of the Northeast Passage – required me to complete a number of charting quests in order to “complete” the map of the Baltic. Most of this consisted of sailing around to vairous coordinates and using the “recognition” skill, but I was also forced to sit outside of Saint Petersburg and fish for several days. Sailing around in the same region for a certain period of time also counted towards completing the map.

 
After charting the Baltic Sea, I was then required to take a “chrono quest” (a more special quest involving a specific historical time period) called “Delivery of Books to the Russian Capital” from the Business mediator in Stockholm. You cannot be fleeted with another character while trying to pull the quest, and you’ll need to spend a certain amount of qmps. After awhile, I sucessfully pulled the quest and was on my way to St. Petersburg.

 
Saint Petersburg reminds me of Venice with its open setting and lovely canals. I had little time to enjoy the secenery, however, because my quest got me caught up in some sort of power-play involving a German princess and the Russian court. After all of that was sorted out, I was then able to purchase the “Far North Languages” from a Japanese resident of St. Petersburg named Kodayu. Far North is an expensive language (1M ducats), but it’ll be useful for navigating around St. Petersburg and possibly the Siberian seaports.

After finishing my business in St. Petersburg, I returned to Stockholm to turn in the quest and then sailed to Bergen, Norway to begin charting the first sea regions in the Arctic. After charting the waters surrounding western Norway and Northern Britain, I relocated my staging base to Edinburgh, Scotland to begin charting the actual waters surrounding the Arctic.

 
Before finishing for the evening, I was able to sucessfully chart the Norwegian Basin and the Lofoten Basin. I charted Norwegian and Lofoten pretty much the same way as I charted the other sea regions – map coordinates, fishing, and sailing around. Charting Lofoten, however, proved to be a bit trickier than the other regions. My GVOnavi conked out, and I was forced to rely on my survey skill and compass windows for navigation. Near the ice pack, I ran into a somewhat nasty storm that kept me pineed in Lofoten for several extra days.

 
Nevertheless, and after a significantly longer voyage than anticipated, I managed to return to Edinburgh sucessfully. Before continuing my charting of the Arctic, I will need to return to London in order to turn in an Oxford thesis.

 

 

I was worried that I would begin running into the dreaded “ice floes” while charting the Norway and Lofoten regions, but I did not run into any ice. However, I have been following other adventurer’s efforts to open up the NE Passage, and nearly all of them are talking about how much ice there is in the Passage. The ice floes continually bang into their ships about once per minute, and people are being forced to stock up on tons of lumber and MCTs/LCCT’s in order to navigate through the passage. Some explorers believe that turning in the charts to Mercator will help reduce the amount of ice damage in the Arctic. Others, however, believe that short of a special aide who is able to minimize ice floe damage, the NE Passage may prove to be too difficult a place for trading ships to go through.

Hearing about all this has made me somewhat disappointed about the NE Passage, since part of my reason for unlocking it is to open up an alternative trade route to East Asia. Still, I press on, hoping that the ice damage will not be as bad for my ship as it has been for so many other Arctic adventurers. I may have to do some dungeon farming in Bordeaux in order to collect white ore for crafting MCCT’s but at least I have some stashed around somewhere.

 

 
Charting Lofoten and Norwegian was pretty easy and I hope the same will go for the other regions in the North. Whatever happens, I will be prepared….

 

 

…To Be Continued