Zhai Mo, a voyager and green promoter, recently completed a non-stop 504-day voyage to the Arctic Ocean, an achievement that has sparked his concern about the environment and increased his sense of responsibility. Zhai is a renowned Chinese explorer who, along with two crew members, navigated more than 28,000 nautical miles (51,856 kilometers) in extreme weather conditions to complete the expedition. They returned to Shanghai on November 17th, becoming the first people to circle the Arctic Ocean without stopping in both directions.
Zhai’s extraordinary journey took him through uncharted territory and tested his limits. He says that this unprecedented route around the Arctic Ocean is a self-challenge and transcendence in the history of human navigation. Previous explorers had only attempted one route, but Zhai and his crew successfully voyaged both the northeast and northwest routes. He is proud to have achieved such a feat, but the experience has also given him a heightened awareness of the climate crisis and his role in promoting sustainability.
Despite the harsh conditions and the challenges of navigating through the Arctic, Zhai’s team successfully completed the expedition on an aluminum sailboat. The journey allowed Zhai to witness firsthand the impact of global warming on the Arctic and the urgent need to take action to mitigate its effects. He hopes that his voyage will inspire others to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and join the fight against climate change.
Zhai’s non-stop Arctic Ocean circle route represents a significant milestone in human exploration and highlights the importance of sustainability in our efforts to explore and discover. Zhai believes that his journey can help raise awareness about the environment and inspire others to take action to protect our planet. Through his voyage, he has demonstrated that it is possible to push the boundaries of human achievement while also prioritizing sustainability and protecting our planet.
Zhai Mo took on the challenge of circling the Arctic Ocean without stopping as an ambassador of Chinese navigation science, marine public welfare, and the ForNature Campaign of the United Nations Development Program. His goal was to raise public awareness about global warming, climate change, and land degradation. He set sail on June 30th, 2022, and crossed several bodies of water during the trip, including the East China Sea, the Western Pacific, the Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, and the Beaufort Sea.
During his voyage, Zhai encountered a variety of marine life, including dolphins, whales, walruses, sea lions, seals, and shoals of cod and wolf fishes. However, he also observed the devastating effects of climate change on the Arctic region firsthand. Zhai hopes that his expedition will encourage others to take action to mitigate the effects of global warming and preserve the planet for future generations.
Zhai faced many challenges during his journey, including three typhoons that occurred within a week while passing through the Northwest Pacific Ocean on the way back. These typhoons were unusual and had not happened in the past. Despite these challenges, Zhai and his team persevered and completed the expedition, becoming the first people to circle the Arctic Ocean without stopping in both directions.
During his one-week voyage in the Kara Sea, Zhai did not encounter any floating ice, which was unexpected based on previous meteorological data. This discovery further highlights the impact of global warming on the Arctic region and the urgent need for action to address this issue. Zhai hopes that his voyage will serve as a wake-up call to the world and encourage individuals and governments to take the necessary steps to protect our planet and its fragile ecosystems.
Zhai’s journey was not just a personal accomplishment, but also a symbol of hope and determination in the fight against climate change. By raising awareness about this critical issue, Zhai hopes to inspire others to take action and work towards a sustainable future. His expedition highlights the importance of scientific research and exploration in understanding the impact of climate change and the urgent need to take action to protect our planet.
Zhai Mo believes that his voyage to the Arctic Ocean has given him firsthand experience of the clear signs of climate abnormality. The planned four-month journey involved entering the Arctic Ocean from the Bering Strait, circumnavigating the area, and then returning to Shanghai. However, due to unforeseen weather conditions, the return schedule was delayed by over a year.
Upon entering the Bering Strait, Zhai and his crew were met with a polar cyclone that brought large ice floes and icebergs to the coast. They had to navigate carefully between these obstacles, and their speed was limited to only 1 to 3 knots. This experience made Zhai realize the challenges of navigating in the Arctic Ocean, where the navigable areas are limited and constantly changing due to ice movement.
According to Zhai, the most challenging part of the voyage was around 75 degrees north, an area known as the “dead channel”. This location is dotted with countless icebergs, and the route that Zhai took passed through the area where the Titanic went down. During this portion of the journey, Zhai had to navigate the sailboat while his crew members kept watch for icebergs and reported on their position. Despite their vigilance, the boat hit an iceberg near Greenland, causing water seepage below the waterline that had to be dealt with.
In addition to the physical challenges of navigating through the Arctic Ocean, Zhai also faced technical difficulties. The magnetic field in the area caused compasses and electronic equipment on the boat to fail, an experience that Zhai had never encountered before. Fortunately, he had a fiber optic compass specially designed for high latitude navigation, and he was able to leave the area with the help of visual aids.
Throughout the voyage, Zhai saw firsthand the devastating impact of climate change on the Arctic region. He hopes that his expedition will raise awareness of this critical issue and encourage individuals and governments to take action to address it.
Zhai’s experience also underscores the importance of preparation and planning for high-risk expeditions like this one. Despite the challenges he faced, Zhai was able to overcome them and complete the journey safely, thanks to his skill and preparation.
Zhai’s voyage to the Arctic Ocean was a significant achievement and a testament to his skill as a navigator and his determination to raise awareness of climate change. Despite the obstacles he faced, Zhai was able to complete the journey and bring attention to the urgent need to address the impact of climate change on our planet.
Zhai Mo and his team faced numerous challenges on their non-stop voyage to the Arctic Ocean. They encountered ice floes, icebergs, heavy fog, strong winds, and huge waves. While navigating through the Chukchi Sea, they had to maneuver around a large area of ice floes and heavy fog, which reduced visibility to no more than 10 meters, and it took nearly 11 hours to cover just 50 nautical miles. There was always a danger of being trapped by the ice, and they had to be fully prepared for any eventuality.
Zhai undertook this mission as an ambassador of Chinese navigation science and marine public welfare and also as part of the ForNature Campaign of the United Nations Development Program. His aim was to raise public awareness of global warming, climate change, and land degradation. Zhai’s trip started on June 30, and he crossed the East China Sea, the Western Pacific, the Bering Strait, the Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea, and the Beaufort Sea. During the trip, they saw dolphins, whales, walruses, sea lions, seals, and shoals of cod and wolf fishes.
To be fully prepared for the voyage, Zhai and his crew hoarded supplies for one year, including nang, a kind of crusty pancake, and yak meat. Zhai also prepared two boxes of Shandong-style pancakes, as he grew up eating them, and it helped to boost morale. They carried sleeping bags that could withstand Arctic winter temperatures of -50 C to -70 C and firecrackers to frighten polar bears away if the boat became trapped.
Zhai’s plan to circumnavigate the Arctic Ocean had been in development for nearly 20 years, and he had this idea before he sailed around the world. He was attracted to sailing while holding an art exhibition abroad in 2000. In 2007, he got a second-hand sailboat with simple supplies such as instant noodles, pancakes, and potatoes and started his voyage around the world.
However, the most difficult part of the whole voyage for Zhai was navigating around 75 degrees north, known as the “dead channel.” This location is dotted with countless icebergs, and the Titanic sank in the vicinity. After entering the iceberg region, Zhai navigated the sailboat while his crew went on watch to report on menacing ice. Despite precautions, the boat hit an iceberg near Greenland, causing water seepage below the waterline that had to be dealt with.
The team faced additional challenges such as compasses and electronic goods failing due to the magnetic field, which Zhai had never encountered while sailing before. Fortunately, he took a fiber optic compass specially used for high latitude navigation and managed to leave the area with visual aids. These challenges did not deter Zhai and his team from achieving their goal of being the first to circle both ways the Arctic Ocean without stopping, covering more than 28,000 nautical miles (51,856 kilometers) in harsh conditions.
Following his 35,000-nautical-mile journey around the world, Zhai Mo set his sights on an Arctic Ocean expedition. To him, navigation is a comprehensive discipline that requires knowledge of astronomy, geography, and practical skills such as carpentry, fitting, hammering, and painting. Surviving in harsh outdoor environments is also a critical aspect of sailing.
Zhai hopes that more young people will participate in sailing to promote ocean awareness and the spirit of navigation. He notes that sailing has developed relatively late in China, and the America’s Cup, the world’s top sailing event, has not yet been held in Asia. There are schools in the United States, Canada, and France, and Zhai hopes to cultivate more marine reserve talents and create more Chinese voices in the world of navigation.
He is now preparing for his third trip around the world, scheduled for next year or the year after. Zhai sees Antarctica as a significant challenge and an opportunity to explore more unknowns. He also aims to launch a transoceanic sailing competition.
Sailing is not only a physical challenge but also an opportunity to promote environmental protection and marine welfare. Zhai undertook his Arctic Ocean journey as an ambassador of Chinese navigation science and marine public welfare, as well as the ForNature Campaign of the United Nations Development Program. He hopes that his journey will raise public awareness of global warming, climate change, and land degradation.
Throughout his expedition, Zhai encountered severe weather conditions, including heavy fog, strong winds, and huge waves. In the Chukchi Sea, the boat navigated around a large area of ice floes and heavy fog, resulting in visibility of no more than 10 meters. They spent nearly 11 hours to cover just 50 nautical miles. Sailing through the Arctic Ocean is dangerous, and the constant risk of being trapped by ice is always present.
To prepare for the harsh Arctic winter, Zhai and his crew hoarded supplies for one year, including nang, a kind of crusty pancake, and yak meat. Zhai also prepared two boxes of Shandong-style pancakes as a reminder of home. They also carried sleeping bags that could withstand temperatures as low as -50 C to -70 C and firecrackers to scare away polar bears if the boat became entrapped.
Despite the risks and challenges, Zhai believes that sailing is an incredible experience that requires courage, perseverance, and an adventurous spirit. He hopes that more people will appreciate the beauty and fragility of our oceans and work together to protect them.