MAUD SUMMER 2015 – RESUME
After arriving Cambridge Bay in June this year our plan was to prepare Maud for being lifted out of the water, after being ignored and abandoned on the seabed in the high north for the last 85 years. The summmer is short in Cambridge Bay. There is ice free water for less than three months of the year. So in early July we could start diving and begin the process of preparing for lifting Maud out of the arctic water and finally up on our barge named Jensen.
Our Tug Tandberg Polar and Jensen arrived from Norway september 2014, after crossing the atlantic from Norway and into the Nortwest Passage and CB, just before the winter set in.
In August we reached a milestone when being able to make the first movement on Maud and during September we finally released Mauds keel from the sea bed, finding the state of the hull in prime condition. Still the entire lift out of the water remains as the new winter came rapidly closer. So we decided to call it a day and decide to wait untill next year for the final lift.
This was an easy decition to make for us, as we have known all the way that we can not fight nature in this project. We have known ever since we started that we can not force the natural progress of this project as it evolves.
Below you can read some more about the essential elements involved relative to the challenge of lifting Maud, that we experienced this summer. And the pictures will hopefully give a good glimpse into the daily life of our small Maud Returns Home team, all the way from from June till October 2015.
Last aerial taken from a box kite before packing up for a new winter.
kiteview – photo jw
The first weeks after arrival we waited for the ice to melt after 10 months of winter conditions and in early July we were able to start the first preparations with defining and installing the heavy rope system around Maud.
As our principle is to work light, without big and heavy technical installations, we chose to use light super strong ropes, called spectra or hydema, the thickest being around 55mm in diameter with a breaking force of between 150-200 tons which is close to equivivalent to what a steel wire of the same dimentions would carry. But the genious is that these ropes weighs only a fraction of what a wire of the same strength would do. In this way we can install these ropes under watrer simply by manual labour of a diver, with some additional support from above.
It was first in early July that the ice around Maud opened and gave us access to start our work.
Clean and innocent, early summer images. Ready to go for it, and full of potential energy.
Stig steps off the last piece of ice and into a summer of endless challenges.
Stig built a little work raft from old driftwood,that proved to be invaluable for us throughout the summer.
Starting the long slow process of strapping up Maud, to prepare her for the big lift.
In addition to these ropes that become a strapping system around Maud the second major element in the preliminary raising processs are the big chunky solid inflatable airbags with a volume of around 13000 liter, which gives a lifting force under water up to 13 tons each.
Each airbag weighs around 400kg but become more or less weightless under water with a help of a few small cans for bouyancy. So these airbags can also be handled manually by divers.
Each airbag weighs around 400kg and are heavy to move around untill they reach the water.
Airbags ready for launching and being submerged and attached to the strapping system around Maud.
We rebuilt the closed airbags into parachutes with open ends. This turned out to work much better for handling .
So the first period of the summer kept us busy preparing for the initial lift of Maud from the seabed and it developed into a big challenge. Maud is resting on the seabed in shallow water and as soon as she is released from the seabed she will start to be exposed over tha water and thus its weight will increase rapidly. This gives us a minimal true distance to lift on regarding the attacments for the straps and the lifting airbags, which became one of our main challenges to deal with.
There is always someone willing to listen to Bjørns stories.
Or watch Bjørn demonstrate the potential of our chinese airbags.
Cairn kids tying the future to the past
Happiness is a warm gun. My gun. We are all one.
Under water the oak wood is only around 10% percent of the weight compared to above the water. This is of course due to its volume and therefore it has more bouyancy. On the other hand all the iron on board Maud is more or less the same weight underneath as above the water surface. The engine alone is aprox 13 tonn but Maud has an enormous amount of steel reinforcements and bolts all around and we really dont know for sure the total weights all together. In total it is practically impossible to estimate the total weight of Maud, so all we can do is to estimate from what we have read and heard and conclusions made based on this.
In additon we have had technical estimates done by several engeneers but the results are very variable depending on all the wide parameters so the conclusion is again that we really have to introduce all the possibly bouyancy we can be able to achieve with our airbags for the inital lift from the seabed.
Another unknown factor can also be that Maud was ballasted for stability but this we have no records on. Again this gives us a reason to imagine Maud to be possibly heavvier than any of the technical estimates that has been produced.
Many people have also brought up the challenge of a vacum effect when starting the initial lift which will be a tilt of Maud into and upright postion, as Maud rests on the seabed with her port side down on the seabed. The port angle is aprox 15 degrees. So when starting to pull this side up we might experience a vacum created between the hull and the seabed as there will be a volum here that can not be compensated with air or water. Our idea is that as we start pulling with our airbags the vacum will gradually be compensated with water after some hours or even days of constant lifing/pulling force by the airbags.
STATE OF THE SHIP
Another issue that many people have brought up and worried about is that Maud possibly will fall apart when we start to lift her. From our experience of the quality of the wood and iron nails and bolts, in addition to my observation from numerous dives around Maud over the years, this is not an issue we consider to be a reason to worry.
There is, and has been, of course a lot of tear and wear going on in the upper parts of Maud where the ice and elements have been chewing bits and pieces of the old ship over the years, and there is a still a constant process going on in this respect. But there is nothing we can do about that , other than get Maud out of this harsh environment and protect her for the future. We also know that after Maud sunk she was totally stripped and all the exposed wood and valuables in addtion to the rigg was stripped off the once so proud polar ship.
This port side of Maud has been hidden for 85 years, was a revelation to the eye when it came free.
photo: dag l h
AIRBAG and ROPE ISSUES
To cut a long story short of continious hard work, week after week under and over the water, we found the airbags more or less impossible to be installed horisontally along the loop of heavy rope attached around the Maud. In the inflating process the bags tended to find their way up in the most original manners. We tried numerous ways of getting around this challenge and ended up, making a radical change by cutting them in half and make vertical parachute principle lifting bags with open ends underneath. This was an immideate success but the rebuilding of the airbags was quite a job to do, but the installation became seemingly effortless, at least compared to what we had experienced untill that time. We experienced a different , but also mentally similar challenge when it came to attaching the chunky ropes around the hull of Maud. In the inflating process when the ropes got multiple tons of lifting power we experienced a slight lengthening of the ropes as a result of the knots tightening up as well as a minor stetch. Having minimal available vertical lifting distance to the sea surface, we experience the need to establish several retightening of the whole system. All these issues became both time consuming and physically challenging for our small team.
A common view, summer 2015 in Cambridge Bay. An organized chaos.
MAUD TILTED UPRIGHT
Then finally, well into the arctic summer we could enjoy to see the port side of Maud slowly coming up towards the surface as we tilted her upright on the keel. This was a big moment for us all as this was the first movement of the old ship ever since she sunk here in CB in 1930. Not only was this an important milestone. It was also a tremendous clearification for us with respect to important issues. First of all the port side of the hull was exposed and showed to be in excellent conditon and for me who could enjoy this from underneath the water it just confirmed my strong notion of the enormous emotional impact of the old ship. Our eagerness to make Maud and her incredible story was really reignited and lit into fire. Again.
It is as if this process of bringing Maud home carries the whole story of Maud in itself. The timeless aspect, not least.
Most of the airbags being used are not visible above the surface as Maud is being tilted horizontal.
There is always something need fixing. And Terje is a prime fixer.
MAUD FRONT LIFT
Then several weeks later we could finally put enough lifting power on the front part of Maud, to finally free the keel from the seabed and expose a exact mirror shape of the hull left in the hard mud. LIke a smooth concrete floor. Now Maud only rested on the sebed at the very back, which again meant we were about to run out of time – to start making preparations for a new winter. We were well aware that within the next weeks the winter could set in. So all we could do was to set Maud down again, now knowing that we have cracked the code and within a short period of preparations next year we will be able to make Maud float.
Jensen proved to be a super working tool for us. Here she is tilted with the help of pumping water in or out.
A quiet evening is always a blessing
STATUS SUM UP
So there we are. In the summer of 2015 Maud finally felt water under her keel again, for the first time since 1930. She made her first moves, not all the way out of the water, but more than enough to make us confident that she can be lifted the way we have intended. The beginning of a movement towards a final resting place for Maud in well protected environment.
We were assured that Maud is still strong and capable of handling the stress of being lifted, and we were also assured that our lifting principle works well, after some adjustment, still using simple principles for lifting the old polarship out of her wet cold temporary grave.
We were challenged to the limit of our capabilities, but that is how it should be. We had to push ourself and be persistent and we have known all the way that this was not going to be an easy task. But we still feel strong and confident – and also humble.
When writing these words Maud and Jensen is laying close together, nose to nose, while the new winter ice rapidly grows around them. Tug TP is being kept winter warm at the dock in CB. Its minus 25 there allready now and it will still be much colder as the winter is progressing.
Finally I wish to thank the Tandberg´s for their steady support all the way. Lets hope for a blessing 2016.
We are all -one- after all.
After some time they were all teamed up in a shared effort to free Maud. Tandberg Polar, Jensen and lady Maud.
Evening skyline over Cambridge Bay
After 72 diving days on Maud this summer
Diver Dag prepares for a swim, recording the develoment under the surface.
As the summer closed in Maud came closer to the surface. But still not yet enough.
Sigurd and Stig discussing the weather.
Stig is as entusiastic as us all, showing a little finding from down under.