Recreating maritime history, an aluminum-hulled catamaran plans to conquer the Northwest Passage in a single season, visiting Juneau in the process.
The Nadon, christened the St. Roch II for this fund-raising voyage, arrived late Thursday at the Coast Guard dock downtown. It will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday by donation. Souvenirs of the ``Voyage of Rediscovery'' will be available for sale during tours of the 66-foot catamaran.
To honor its namesake, a pioneering Royal Canadian Mounted Police vessel, St. Roch II has undertaken a six-month, 22,000 nautical mile circumnavigation of North America.
``The reception and support we have gotten from Alaskan and British Columbia coastal communities has just been tremendous,'' said RCMP Sergeant Ken Burton, Captain of the Nadon.
``Individuals are recognizing the outstanding maritime accomplishments of St. Roch and responding to the call to help preserve her for future generations. American companies have been among our stronger supporters to save this priceless Pacific and Arctic maritime heritage treasure,'' Burton said.
The Nadon/St. Roch II is very different from her predecessor. The original, wooden-hulled vessel withstood the crushing pressure of Arctic ice packs for two decades. It made a significant contribution to the development and shaping of Canada, and forged bonds with the Inuit that were essential to her success.
St. Roch became the first vessel ever to sail through the fabled Northwest Passage from west to east in 1940-42, and the first ever to make a return voyage, in 1944, east to west, ending a 400-year search for a maritime route connecting Europe and Asia. She later became the first vessel to sail around North America, and is the only vessel ever to circumnavigate the continent in both directions.
The re-enactment will raise money to save the original St. Roch from the ravages of dry rot, said Jim Delgado, executive director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, where the original ship is kept.
More information on the original ship is available via Hot Links at juneauempire.com.