Jean Michel and I left Sooke, B.C., on the Ist of June 1999 aboard Ocean Search. We travelled up the coast until Dixon Entrance, then west across the North Pacific to Dutch Harbour and north to Providenyia. We made good time, learning our boat, adjusting to the brisk weather. It was too cold to work with bare hands. The ice charts showed there were several ice bergs before we reached Providenyia.
We kept watch but had not seen even the smallest "Ice Bit" when on July 5th, we entered the fjord. To tell the truth we had not seen anything but puffins and other sea birds. For 48 hours we had travelled through such thick fog that we could not see 50 metres from the yacht.
We found Providenyia, a small town, a desolate place, sad and decayed, lost in a shroud of mist, a sorry sight. A barge full of all sorts of uniformed officials came to meet us with a battery of administrative procedures.Two guards were left permanently on board. Interpreters came in relays to translate the forms that we had to fill in.
We soon found that things were not quite as tough as they looked. Our guards fished and smoked and accepted the plates of spaghetti that we offered them. The officials themselves joked about their system.
We shared inumerable cups of tea, our discussion sessions were long and we all got thirsty. The atmosphere got a lot more friendly. Soon we were allowed on shore.
We stayed nearly six weeks in Providenyia. The problems in Kosovo upset all the plans that I had made before I left Paris.
My Russian crew Andrei had by now joined us, so we could communicate more freely with the locals. Our Russian friends tried to help us in every way.
Frequent electricity failures did not help in the discussions between Moscow, Paris and Vancouver . At weekends we all adjourned to the hotel bar, pulled the curtains to, and danced .Vodka flowed freely. Everyone was happy, I champed at the bit.
On July 24th, I realised that we were never going to get authorisation .The season is so short. We could no longer wait.
There was no question of going back. If we could not go west by Russia then we would go east by North America
Arrangements were quickly made by radio. Friends in Canada leapt to our help. There was no time to waste if we were to reach the Atlantic before the end of summer.