Friday, September 05, 2008

More detail on the spectacular failure of Lewis Gordon Pugh's attempt to kayak to the North Pole

Sam Branson's Arctic diary -
[Sept 4:] ...we could all feel a sense of achievement as the end of the trip lingered in the air and all our minds. ... I have always found that people dedicated to an issue like this, all seem to have a good sense of the world and have travelled [via the burning of fossil fuels] to many places.
We have now left the realms of the ice and are heading south to Spitsbergen...
Last ITV text update by Phil Reay Smith, dated Sept 2
We wake up to find we're trapped.

Overnight we've been drifting amongst the ice floes and the wind has blown them together, tight around the MV Havsel.

The captain grinds the engine backwards and forwards in an attempt to free us. Getting frozen in would be bad news, as it's the end of the summer and the weather is about to get a lot colder very quickly.

We make grim jokes about only getting out in the spring, and having to eat each other to survive. Fortunately that turns out not to be necessary as we eventually break free.

What's clear is that there can not be any paddling from where we are. But the crew are convinced that there is open water to the north. So we steam around looking for a path that's navigable by kayak.
A wonderfully sarcastic comment on Pugh's blog
As a school instructor, when we first heard of the placing of the flags at the North Pole my students warmed to the symbolism. However, we were a bit disappointed that conditions kept the world flags so distant from the Pole as we have marked your position on a map. We do hope a secondary flag is available to place when you get to your destination as it would seem deflating to kayak another 1000 km under such conditions for such a noble cause without a flag to mark the end of your journey and serve as an exclamation point to the loss of the ice cap.

If the ice does not allow free travel of the Havsel is it possible to helicopter a symbol of your expedition to the Pole itself? Of course my students insist that a biodegradable flag be left as they do not wish to harm the polar bears!

Please be safe, we are all watching.
More on conditions aboard the large fossil-fueled support ship
The Havsel is a remarkable ship - 110 feet long with masses of space below decks. A corner of the cargo hold is converted into our edit suite and there are several cabins for the 12 people on board, made up of the ship's crew, Lewis's team, and me.

I'm sharing a cabin with Tom, who is in charge of Lewis's blog. I'm on the top bunk and it's a little cramped. If I turn over in the night, I hit the ceiling.

But the conditions on board are luxurious compared to other assignments I've worked on. There's a hot shower and there's a cook from one of the restaurants in Longyearbyen, the port from which we set off on this expedition.

In the evening he serves us duck in a red wine sauce, which tastes rather good. It feels very strange to be bobbing up and down in the middle of the Arctic Ocean eating duck.

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