I have slept poorly. The floating ice, while thin, is so prevalent that, throughout the night, it grinds noisily against the side of the boat in a slightly alarming fashion – imagine someone scraping their nails across an old-fashioned blackboard.The then begins earlier than normal and, unusually, I am not woken by Robbie bounding into my room. Instead the ship’s engine roars to life earlier than normal – at around 5.30 – and the MV ‘Havsel’ begins to judder ominously. I clamber out of bed and scramble up to the bridge – all the ship’s crew are there, and they look serious. I look outside and I can see why. The sea is almost entirely congested with ice floes – I would estimate 80% plus of the sea is covered by them. There is a real risk that we could get stuck up here. We have drifted in the night into a much icier area than where we stopped last night. I wake up the team, and everyone groggily makes their way to the bridge. There’s a mixed reaction in the team to the prospect of getting stuck up here.
See the location on Google Maps, 80.52397, 12.21224
After awaking to find their vessel frozen in ice the team are steaming around looking for a path that’s navigable by kayak.
No paddling today.
At about 69 miles per degree of latitude, it would seem that they’re still 600+ miles from the North Pole.
My original post follows:
Place your bets now folks. If only Robert Peary could have had CNN tag along. – Anthony
Entries from Sam Branson’s Arctic diary – In the mirror.co.uk
My split feelings about this news remind me of another paradox of my expedition up here – the fact that I am spending my days paddling in ice-cold water, with a frozen, painful backside, trying to bring to the attention of the world and its leaders the necessity of stopping the world heating up.
[Sept 1:] Travel this morning was tough. The temperature has dropped dramatically and each time the guys get in the water in is a notch harder. We are starting to see larger chunks of ice, which instead of weaving through, they have to paddle around. The occasional chunk hits the bow of the ship sending small pieces out to the side into the route of travel for our paddlers. One nearly knocked Lewis of his kayak. The water is now below zero and a spill could be quite painful. The moving water by the feet of the guys has started to freeze and this could take a toll on their much needed warmth. I know that Robbie has been struggling with his toes.
[Aug 31:] The ship is noticeably colder and we are all wearing an extra layer. I have been on deck loading the kayaks and boats back onto the ship. The water soaked ropes seep moisture into your gloves and it saps the heat from my hands fast. I can only imagine what it is like for Lewis and Robbie holding on to a cold paddle with waves crashing over them. The first thing Lewis said when he got back in was ‘I can’t feel my backside!’
[Aug 28:] Some may know this place from the book ‘The northern lights’ by Phillip Pullman, where he calls it, ‘The land of the ice bears’. From what I’ve heard, this name could not be closer to the truth. The boat we are on has just returned from a trip in the ice and along the way they encountered eighty eight bears.
Gosh, that’s a lot of bears.
Just in case you might be thinking the two kayakers are doing this all alone, on a shoe-string budget, with only strength and determination….
Here is the support vessel: 300-ton fossil-fueled MV Havsel
Polar Defense writes: The support boat we loaded our kit onto is not the QE2. She is an old fishing boat called MV ‘Havsel’ – this means ‘ocean seal’ in Norwegian. She is a tough, grubby, working boat with a strengthened hull and a big engine for a boat of her size – she will perform very well up in the pack ice.
Thanks to Tom Nelson for references in this story