If your 36-foot sailboat is frozen in the ice in the Arctic Ocean, 40 miles north of Alaska's northern coast, your choices are limited. Without any outside help, you have to hope that the ice pack shifts and a lead opens or that August arrives and enough ice melts to free your vessel. On the other hand, you can call for assistance and watch as the 420-foot, 16,000-ton Coast Guard icebreaker Healy crushes its way toward you.
This scenario played itself out on Saturday, July 12, when Healy broke through 12 miles of ice to free Altan Girl, a 36-foot boat that was described by the Alaskan newspaper The Nome Nugget as a "Canadian-Turkish sailing vessel." Altan Girl was attempting to transit the Northwest Passage when it became trapped by ice. Healy broke it out and Altan Girl retreated south to Barrow, Alaska, to resupply.