MAUD RETURNS HOME 2016
Its been a long winter as always around old Maud in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Being a record mild winter in the Arctic we imagined the spring to arrive a little earlier, but as we now reach into the last half of June it seems to be an ice opening close to what we experienced last year, which was around the first week of July.
So that means we will again have a few summer months to hopefully complete the task of raising Maud out of the arctic water after more than 80 years resting at the sea bed deep into the Northwest Passage where she sank in 1930, after having spent 7 years serving Roald Amundsen and his crew, on their ambitious attempt to drift across the North Pole during the years 1918 to 1925. After the end of the expedition Amundsen lost Maud to creditors and the ship was few years later left and abandoned by the new owner Hudson Bay Company.
I dont know if Maud has slept this winter or if she has kept one eye open wondering what was really happening last summer, after all these years in silent solitude. Does she feel a slight excitement, just like we do, sensing something deep in her belly. A coming change.
Maud sailed into the arctic nearly one hundred years ago. A lot has happened since then. The world has changed in many ways. She sailed into the Arctic on a scientific expedition to reveal yet hidden secrets of the North Pole region. Some of the men on board Maud later became world renown scientists, and the scientific results derived from the Maud expedition was groundbreaking in its time.
Today the arctic is suffering from a melt down partly caused by human impact on the globe as a whole. I believe, if Amundsen, Sverdrup, Dahl and all the other men that gave years of their life to explore the mystery of the high arcic, I belive if they knew what our modern lifestyle has caused of negative impact on mother nature, they would be both saddened and harmed. When you spend years of your life in deep contact with nature you become bonded. You become nature yourself. You gradually find yourself not being able to separate yourself from it all. Nature become your flesh and blood. I find it relevant to bring this to mind, to actually take this moment to reflect. It can be a way of honoring the men on board Maud, and those long years spent in Arctic desolation, only one hundred years ago, when the world looked so different from today. The Maud expedtition was the beginning of the modern exploration of this remote region of planet earth.
Sometimes I can feel as if it all happened yesterday. Seeing Maud, torn by the time, but still so much alive and communicative. What will be in another 100 years. We will be gone, but what about our great grand children. Will mother nature still be there for them, in all her beauty, the same way it has been for us?
Sometimes I wish to live just the simplest possible life. Fullfil Harald U. Sverdrups dream. Sail away on a drifting iceberg to whereever it takes me.
But first. The old Queen is waiting.
More lifting power
Its been a hectic winter for the small MRH team, refining our plans for this years adventure. When arriving last year we had no direct experience in the lifting procedure for Maud, as this is quite an extreme manouver to performe in an isolated place in the high arctic. We have freezing cold water and a very short window to perform the operation. Last summer our learning curve was steep. This year we have an enormous degree of experience to bring with us, and we have prepared a lifting operation very much based on valuable new inputs from the summer of 2015.
First of all we now have a good estimate for the weight of Maud being submerged. We have also now made the basis for a lifting support under the keel, which will make it possible to install lifing forces all along the hull of Maud. We have also arranged for a new set of lifting ballons and new spectra ropes to be on the safe side when it comes to lifting potential. So we feel good without being big headed. And we are also extremely happy just to be ready for another challenging season in the Arctic.
So all in all we are feeling pretty much ok. Within the coming week we will all be in CB making preparation to proceed as soon as the ice opens around Jensen the barge and Maud herself. Last year the ice opened around the 5th of July. Stig has been there allready for a period and prepared Tandberg Polar, our tug, for a new working season. TP has survived two winters in CB and it is quite a challenge to make happen, considering the severe cold we experience here during the long winter.
This year we are hoping to give those who wish to follow our work a better follow up on what is happening. I will update you later on the details as soon as things are more defined.
Which way home – and when
When Maud finally has surfaced. What then? We dont wish to be known for predicting to much into the future, but we have actually spent some time thinking and planning alternative scenarios for how to proceed when Maud is up and floating with the support of Jensen the barge. Maud will loose a lot of weight after surfacing, and we wish to let this happen as we secure her for the long journey home. We also wish her to experience a freeze drying winter, as suggested from those who know such matters best. This can really happen anywhere as long as the temperature ideally is in the pretty low minus. The right moment for departure will be when we are ready to go.
When sailing out of Cambridge Bay we can turn to port. That is to the east towards Greenland, passing Gjøa havn on the way out of the Northwest Passage. That is the same direction as we arrived in September 2014.
On the other hand, if we turn to starboard, we will sail westward direction the Bering Strait and further into the Northeast Passage over Russia and finally end up in Vardø, North Norway. That is a thrilling thought. This is the route Maud sailed originally, only opposite direction, during the first years of The Maud Expedition. This home sailing alternative is around 30% longer than the other way, but we will not need to cross the Atlantic ocean, and to actually sail home through the old path of Maud could be a wonderful way to not only honor Maud and her men, but also to make some stops and actually visit the winter harbours of Maud and finally arrive Vardø, in the very North of Norway. The same little town Maud departed in July 1918. That would just be a dream come through for us all, and a great bonus.
To enter The Northern Sea Route as the Russians call is subject to a sailing permition. We have spent some time this winter to present the idea of sailing home over Russia and we have actually met great support in charing this historic home trip with the Russians, as they have a great love for the Polar History and Roald Amundsen is a great hero also in Russia. This idea is still in the planning stage but we have great hopes to realize this dream.
But as I have to remind myself and everyone else. First thing first.
I hope those of you who follow our slow evolving project of bringing Maud back to Vollen and Norway can, like us, enjoy the experience of all the many aspects of this endeavour, facinating and challenging at the same time.
On behalf of our supporter, all the way, Tandberg Eiendom, Asker, Norway.
16th of June 2016 in Cambridge Bay. Tandberg Polar still framed inside the polar ice cap.
photo: stig p
Late june view of Maud
The winter ice in Cambridge Bay melts rapidly during the last part of June.