Traveler’s Journal: Sailing the Wake of the Maritime Fur Trade

  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Traveler’s Journal

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8

Where: Sequim High School library, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Cost: Suggested $5 donation (adults); 18 and younger, free

Presenters: Mark Roye and Nancy Krill

Presentation: ‘Arctic, Antarctic, Alaska: Sailing the Wake of the Maritime Fur Trade’

Most of us who cruise under sail do so, in part, in search of adventure. But adventure is a very personal matter, and each of us defines it in terms truly meaningful only to ourselves.

For both Nancy and me, adventure must include a challenge that poses a significant risk of failure … not necessarily a physical risk, but difficult, distant or complex enough that success is never assured.

Probably most sailors that consider a cruising adventure plan to sail to tropical destinations. This was not the case for me or for Nancy. During a long career skippering fishing vessels from the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea, my dreams were of the aurora borealis, massive icebergs, and majestic fjords. Nancy also wanted the more dramatic, the more difficult to achieve.

Each of us arrived at this common definition from different ports of embarkation.

My heroes, of course, were the well-known explorers, but also the lesser-known Yankee maritime fur traders, sealers and whalers. Particularly those venturing around Cape Horn to the Pacific Northwest — those who, in Melville’s words had, “Penetrated the secret drawers and lockers of the world.”

I wanted to sail in their track, to experience what they had experienced, to anchor in the same harbors, see the same peoples and places, and solve the same problems that had confronted them.

Nancy shared the dream as well. She’s trained as a geologist, and she’s also widely traveled throughout the more exotic parts of the world. She too was eager to sail to more challenging destinations and to find that kind of adventure.

Our slideshow and lecture combines Nancy’s fine photography with my passion for storytelling and maritime history. The presentation chronicles our voyages aboard our steel ketch Tamara from Hudson Strait in the Eastern Canadian Arctic to Alaska, by way of Newfoundland, the Azores, Cape Verde, Brazil, Argentina, the Falklands, Cape Horn, Antarctica, Chile and the Galapagos — the route of mariners who, bound for the Pacific Northwest, opened those secret drawers and lockers of our world and ushered our young nation to the forefront of world trade.

Along the way we experienced the same places, peoples and cultures, geography, geology, and wildlife as those who pioneered this route. We came to revere their seamanship. Whatever else we might think about the activities of those earlier generations of sailors, their accomplishments as mariners are unrivaled.

After we were awarded the Cruising Club of America’s Charles H. Vilas Prize for 2011 and the Royal Cruising Club Trophy for 2012, we began to be asked to present our slide lecture at places like Mystic Seaport Museum and other venues that are the true repositories of the maritime traditions we value so highly. This, to us, was an even higher honor.

But we’re even happier to bring this same passion to presentations right here at home, and honored to present our show at the 2018 Traveler’s Journal Series in Sequim.

About the presenters

For more then 20 seasons, Mark Roye owned and skippered fishing vessels throughout Alaska. From the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea, his career not only earned him a living, but also brought a wealth of experience for what he schemed and planned for all along — to cruise under sail. Cruise not just anywhere, but sail the higher latitudes.

The Arctic and Antarctic always consumed him, and he pursued his fishing career with that ultimate goal in mind, logging more than 200,000 miles during these years. Being twice forced to take to the life raft, fighting a serious ship-board fire in the Bering Sea, participating in rescues and medical emergencies, and the countless mechanical and technical problems presented by his profession were all viewed as training for the adventure to come.

Mark’s partner, First Mate of their 44-foot steel ketch Tamara, Nancy Krill had spent time aboard their 91-foot fishing vessel and gained experience as well. But she brought a different set of skills just as valuable to the couple’s future cruising plans. Having traveled extensively to many of the exotic and less frequented parts of the world, she rounded out Mark’s technical background with the ease of travel attained only by years of just going and figuring things out along the way. They would come to rely upon these experiences and on the photographic skills Nancy honed along her way.

A student of the voyages of Yankee whalers, sealers, and Pacific Northwest maritime fur-traders, Mark found inspiration in the discoveries and exploits of these independent nautical entrepreneurs. Much of what is known today of the more remote parts of our world, particularly those of higher latitudes, came about as much through their efforts as by those of national voyages of discovery. The couple’s cruising plans would combine these interests.

Mark and Nancy have been frequent contributors to “Sail,” “Ocean Navigator” and “Blue Water Sailing” magazines. Mark has trained fishing vessel and yacht crews in safety and survival at sea, is a passionate advocate for marine safety, and conducts seminars in cruising higher latitudes and cold water safety. Their slideshows and lectures have received enthusiastic audiences in New England, Alaska and the West Coast.

The couple makes their home in Port Townsend.

Details of some of their voyaging can be found at (primarily voyages in the Labrador sea) and (featuring the voyage from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska via Antarctica and many points between).

About the presentations

Traveler’s Journal is a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition with local adventurers sharing their stories and photos with you. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food for the volunteers working on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Admission is $5 adults, youths 18 and under free. Shows start at 7 p.m. in the Sequim High School Library at 601 N. Sequim Ave. The seating is chairs and some people bring their own cushions.

Each year the dream of a continuous trail from Port Townsend to Forks gets a little closer. In 2017, about 200 volunteers put in more than 9,000 hours of labor on the trail.

One selected photo enlargement will be given each week as a door prize.

Call Arvo Johnson at 360-301-9359 for more information.

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