73-Year-Old Yacht Rests In Homer Following Long Journey

Peter Sheppard


     The Nordwind, an antique 86-foot racing yacht that recently completed the Northwest Passage, is currently docked in the Homer harbor and will remain there for the rest of the winter. 

     Towering over the other ships in the Homer Harbor, outfitted with a white paint job and gold trim and with many modern conveniences adorning its antique interior, the Nordwind is a boat with quite a history behind it.

     Built in 1939 as a replacement vessel for the German Navy, she was sent to compete in the 1939 Fastnet race and not only won the race, but also set a new record for the competition that held for 24 years.

     After World War II the Nordwind switched owners several times, became one of the earliest classic yacht restoration projects in the late 70s and has continued to both race and travel to all corners of the world.

     Recently, she completed the Northwestern Passage and is now docked in the Homer Harbor for the winter. According to Alex Veccia, the Nordwind’s current captain, sailing the Northwestern Passage was something he’d wanted to do for some time, but also happens to be a rite of passage for many a sailor.

"For people who sail, the Northwest Passage is one of the most challenging trips to do," said Veccia. "It took us ... a year to plan it."

Since the Northwestern Passage involves sailing from the Atlantic to the Pacific over the top of Canada, encountering the natural wonders of the arctic world is all but expected, something that Laura Fay Barden, a deckhand and the crew cook for the Nordwind said did not disappoint. 

"I think we all liked Greenland," said Barden. "We had a few hiccups along the way but I think we managed to come over them all."

In addition seeing the world of the arctic, Veccia also mentioned visiting several of the memorials to previous expeditions that had attempted to sail the passage around the turn of the century, and how humbling of an experience that was.

As the Nordwind began the final leg of its sojourn, sailing into Homer via Kodiak, the weather began taking a turn for the worse after Alaska was hit with an unseasonably strong weather pattern that flooded several areas in the Kenai Peninsula and according to Veccia, this was one of the hairiest parts of their journey.

Now that the Nordwind is docked safely in the Homer Harbor, her crew are making preparations for next season to sail around Alaska, which Veccia said he is very excited to get underway, taking the time also to thank his crew for their work in sailing the passage.