Crew defies worst of the Arctic Ocean

By Martin Neville

Published on Saturday, October 05, 2013 - 14:52


Crew defies worst of the Arctic Ocean

Isle of Wight adventurer Richard Nicolson with an Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust flag at Fort Ross.

AN EPIC voyage across the Arctic Ocean nearly ended in disaster for an Isle of Wight adventurer after a close encounter with a fishing boat.

Richard Nicolson, 46, was part of a self-funded team of five, led by experienced ice sailor Bob Shepton, who set off from Nome, Alaska, on a perilous expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage in August.

After a 3,500-mile voyage, when they ran the gauntlet of icebergs and polar bears, the expedition almost ended in disaster as the team made their final approach to the outer harbour at Aassiat, Greenland.

A sturdy 60ft steel fishing boat was moored at the end of a fishing pier and as the team neared on Dodo’s Delight, their 33ft Westerly, they narrowly missed becoming snagged on the trawling gear hanging 8ft up over her stern.

Writing on his online blog, Richard said: "I shouted 'hard starboard’ and we swung four inches clear of catching."

While an outright collision was avoided, the crew’s wind generator became caught and was pulled overboard.

Arriving in Aassiat marked the end of a treacherous journey through the icebound seas which link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the fulfilment of a life-long ambition for Richard, who has so far raised more than £2,340 for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

The father-of-two, who lives in Cowes, said: "The Northwest Passage is something of an enigma — one minute I have experienced warm, sunny weather and, literally, within an hour or two it has been below freezing, foggy and snowing."

Only 170 expeditions have traversed the Northwest Passage and the crew faced some of the worst ice in 89 years.



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