The first single-handed circumnavigation of the Americas

16 Ketch Williewaw

Plaque 16

Willie de Roos

Willie de Roos

In the summer of 1977. without fanfare or press agents, the Belgian businessman Willie de Roos (1923 – ) made history by being the first person to transit the Northwest Passage in a single season aboard a sailboat, his 42-foot ketch Williwaw. From Belgium he sailed across the Atlantic, through both the Davis Strait and the Bering Strait. In addition, he made the passage single-handed. When asked about of his historic voyage, he answered with characteristic modesty. “I did not do it alone.” he says. “Nature was always with me.”

The Parade of Ships plaque number 16 was donated by Blayney Scott.

Circumnavigating the Americas

Sailing south from the Bering Strait, De Roos and Williwaw stopped in both Victoria and Vancouver in 1978 in preparation for the next stage in achieving his ultimate goal: the circumnavigation of both North and South America. Again, de Roos set the record of being the first to do so, completing the feat single-handed in 1979 with an addition to a foray in to the Antarctic

In 1983 de Roos return to the Antarctic to conduct a scientific project for the Université Catholique de Louvain de Roos has written a number of books about his expeditions, including The Northwest Passage, Alone in the wake of the caravels, and Inaccessible Horizon.