After centuries of sailing across virtually every corner of the world's oceans, it might seem there are no 'firsts' remaining for any ambitious skipper hoping to find a place along with Marco Polo and Megellan in the nautical history books. But, among other things, global warming is changing all that.
Shortly after the discovery of the New World, European explorers sought long and hard for an easy way to usurp those inconveniently placed land masses impeding an easy voyage to the riches of Asia. Unfortunately, they soon learned that the most promising route, between the northern coast of North America and the Arctic -- known as the Northwest Passage -- was impassable due to icy conditions. Thanks to recent melting patterns, however, that's no longer the case.
This summer, the Belzebub II, a sailboat helmed by a three-man crew, became the first to navigate through the Northwest Passage, from Sweden to the western shore of Alaska -- made possible due to the region's now scarcer ice coverage, the result of global warming.
The crew detailed their journey on their blog, found here.
Unlike some other history-making sailors, the crew of Belzebub II isn't in it for glory -- they simply hope to point out that, even though those early cartographers' maps still look correct on the surface, today the face of our planet is actually not the same.
"By sailing this newly-opened route we hope that our expedition will play a small part in bringing further attention to climate change and contributing to a larger shift in attitudes. The Arctic is melting at an alarming rate and is clear proof of our disharmony with the planet," write the crew. "Our approach to sail across a historical stretch of water that has traditionally been frozen is meant to be a clear visual example of the extent of declining polar ice."