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Mariner trying to sail Northwest Passage rescued after sailboat gets stuck in sea ice near Barrow

Michelle Theriault Boots
Coast Guard Cutter Healy crewmembers make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska, July 12, 2014. Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau were contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue that a man, sailing his sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage, needed assistance after his vessel had become trapped in the ice. U.S. Coast Guard

A man attempting to sail his 36-foot sailboat through the Northwest Passage was rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Saturday after his boat became trapped in Arctic sea ice northeast of Barrow.

The Coast Guard cutter Healy broke a 12-mile path through ice to reach the sailboat Altan Girl about 40 miles from Barrow, the Coast Guard said in a news release Sunday. The Healy was diverted from a research mission to respond to the sailboat.

The Coast Guard did not release the rescued man’s name, but the Nome Nugget’s June 26 “Dock Walk” column described the Altan Girl as a “Canadian-Turkish sailing vessel."

The Altan Girl started its voyage in Vancouver, Canada, and is attempting to reach eastern Canada via the Arctic Ocean, the Coast Guard said.

“The Healy crew conducted a safety inspection of the mariner’s vessel to ensure the vessel was seaworthy and that all the required safety equipment was on board,” the Coast Guard said in a news release. “The mariner intends to sail to Barrow to resupply and await safer weather conditions before continuing his journey.”

Crossings of the famed Northwest Passage connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic have become more prevalent in recent years. In 2012, a group of three sailors navigated one of the trickiest portions of the Northwest Passage from east to west, at the same time mariner David Scott Cowper was taking on a solo passage of the crossing. In 2013, French adventurer Charles Hedrich attempted a solo west-east crossing via rowboat, the same year that four Vancouver rowers failed in their own attempt to conquer the waterway.

Contact Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com.