The Old Pulteney Row to the Pole expedition led by Jock Wishart has made it to the magnetic North Pole – and only had to drag their boat over an ice field for the last two miles. Now perhaps people will recognise how much ice has gone.
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‘The final leg of our journey started on Wednesday night when a possible route through the disintegrating ice began to open up,’ said Jock. ‘We’d been pinned down for days by ice and heavy winds. But the conditions suddenly changed and we were able to pick our way through. The last three miles proved to be the hardest of all when we had to take the boat out the water and then haul it over the ice.
‘We’re all absolutely exhausted, but elated. No one’s ever even tried to do this. In fact most people did think it was impossible. But we’ve done it!’
For most of the voyage the crew rowed through open water, taking advantage of favourable weather to make good headway, but the biggest challenges lay in the second part of the expedition, which involved rowing across to Ellef Ringnes Island. In the last few weeks of summer, this area was slow to melt and break up, so the crew was confronted with both solid and floating sea ice which they painstakingly picked their way through.
The Row to the Pole team has lived for almost a month on the specially designed ice-boat, sleeping in shifts between rowing stints and living on dry rations containing an amazing 7000 calories per day. They have also had some close encounters with some of the Arctic’s most impressive species, including beluga whales, walrus and polar bears.
A BBC cameraman was with the rowing team, so I’m looking forward to seeing the TV documentary…
This is a typically quirky and entertaining BBC Radio 4 piece celebrating the foghorn’s place in music, literature and film, and in sailing. If you can, hear it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/yqp5z (If you’re outside the UK you’ll probably need to find a proxy or some other technical fix to hear it.)
Here’s what Auntie Beeb’s blurb says:
‘The foghorn was invented in 1855 by Robert Foulis, a Scotsman living in Canada who heard the low notes (but not the high notes) of his daughter’s piano playing whilst walking far from the family’s fog-shrouded coastal cottage, thus inspiring the first steam powered fog horn. But beyond the sea, it’s “whale-like” sound has inspired artists, writers and musicians to use the foghorn both as symbol and instrument.
‘[Programme maker]Peter Curran hears from foghorn composer of Maritime Rites Alvin Curran, Jason Gorski, aka The Fogmaster, who used to conduct guerrilla foghorn concerts in the Bay Area of California, and takes a tour of Portland Bill lighthouse in Dorset, with keeper Larry Walker, taking the opportunity to set off an almighty Victorian foghorn. He also joins James Bond film music and future 2012 Olympic theme music composer David Arnold, who tries to digitally recreate the foghorn’s cry, and Dr Harry Witchel, who analyses Peter’s yearn for the sound as a child.’
Stand by for the usual BBC mix of inspiration and nonsense!
PS – If you can’t hear the programme itself, you might enjoy the following – though I think they’re best enjoyed with a pair of headphones rather than the tiny speakers you get with many computers:
This clip shows the story of how the British Navy allowed a Trafalgar fighting ship to rot and then, just 60 years ago, blew her up. The officers and men entrusted with the job appear to be nearly in tears.
My thanks go to Chris Partridge of Rowing for Pleasure for pointing out the link.
If you can’t follow the link above to the BBC story about the destruction of the Implacable, try this Pathé newsreel piece from the time (my thanks to Claire Goodwin for spotting and sharing this link).
Afterwards, the World Ship Trust adopted the motto: ‘Never again!’ referring to the sad and unnecessary loss of the Implacable.