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Another Arctic Rowing Expedition Comes To Grief

August 27, 2017

By Paul Homewood



h/t AC Osborn



The Mail reports on yet another Arctic expedition that has come perilously close to real grief:



Three British rowers attempting a record 1,200-mile voyage across the raging seas of the Arctic Ocean are stranded on a remote volcanic island after being battered by fierce storms.

The trio, part of a six-man crew, were forced to land on the tiny island of Jan Mayen, just 340 miles from their destination on Iceland.

The Polar Row team, including British double Olympic gold medallist Alex Gregory, had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails.

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Nightmare: The Polar Row team (pictured) had endured freezing temperatures and almost constant soaking in their fibreglass boat, which has neither an outboard motor nor sails

Having landed on the island, the three Britons and another rower refused to continue because of safety fears. Only the boat’s Icelandic skipper and an American crewman wanted to keep going.

It is understood the stranded crew may not be evacuated from the 144 square mile island until next week but are being looked after by an 18-strong Norwegian military contingent based there.

Last night the Maritime & Coastguard Agency confirmed it had received an SOS.

Gregory, 33, a father-of-three who won rowing gold medals at the London and Rio Games, wrote on Twitter: ‘I truly believed I wouldn’t see land, my family or anything again.’

The team was being led by Icelandic athlete Fiann Paul, and also featured Gregory, fellow Britons Sam Vye and Danny Longman, and Americans Tyler Carnevale and Carlo Facchino. The expedition set off on July 20 from Tromso, Norway.


Stranded: The expedition set off on July 20 from Tromso, Norway


Gregory posted an emotional video message on Twitter after arriving on Jan Mayen on August 19, in which he described how the crew had been taken in by Norwegian military personnel who had ‘saved our lives’.

A post on the expedition’s Facebook page, from August 18, said the crew had a ‘phenomenally tough 72 hours’. It quoted Gregory saying: ‘We never seem to be getting very far, nothing changes. I’ve never been so wet and cold. It’s seeping into my bones, there is absolutely no escape from it. I have to wait for land. It’s getting worse though, the colder I get, the more I have to work during my shift, the sweatier I get, the wetter I get, the colder I get.’


The bravery of these guys is astounding, and at least on this occasion the purpose was a charitable one, to raise funds to build a school in the Himalayas.

But time and again we find these expeditions set out totally unprepared for what to expect, lulled into a false sense of security by fake claims of Arctic heatwaves and icemelt.

Sooner or later, these fraudsters will have lost lives on their conscience.

  1. quaesoveritas permalink
    August 27, 2017 12:11 pm

    “The crew were attempting to smash a number of world records to raise funds to build a school in the Himalayas.”
    Do we know how much money they actually raised, after the costs of the expedition and rescue were taken into consideration?

    • Curious George permalink
      August 27, 2017 5:33 pm

      That Himalayan school has to be built at any price.

    • Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
      August 27, 2017 9:08 pm

      If anyone wants to contribute to the building of a school in the Himalayas, go to Doug Scott (the first Englishman to climb Everest)
      “Helping the mountain people of Nepal help themselves” is the quote on the CAN website.

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      August 28, 2017 7:39 am

      I’d imagine by the time the full costs are taken into account, the expedition cost as much as a school. I cannot stand these people who pretend that their adventure, which they want to do, is for charity.

  2. rwoollaston permalink
    August 27, 2017 12:12 pm

    Surely the reason for abandoning the expedition has nothing to do with ice, melting or otherwise – it’s because of storms.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    August 27, 2017 12:32 pm

    Reminiscent of this failed publicity stunt:

    • John MacDonald permalink
      August 28, 2017 2:16 am

      Failed because they went to the magnetic pole? Certainty a long way from the true pole.
      Otherwise seems like a pretty strenuous feat.

  4. August 27, 2017 12:58 pm

    It would be useful if you could enable a link for each new article so that it can be shared on Facebook.

    It would also be a good idea for you to have a Facebook page, so that people can get new articles directly into their news feed.

  5. August 27, 2017 1:36 pm

    I’ve watched many city slickers come to the high arctic with much fanfare and expert pronouncement on whatever over decades. The lineup never seems to end. My thoughts on such “missions”:

    • theguvnor permalink
      August 27, 2017 7:54 pm

      From Hadows Arctic Mission blog:
      ‘In closing the meeting, I raised the need for us all to switch on mentally to full polar bear alert, and all the safety procedures and equipment that this entailed. We had just seen our first sea ice. From now on, we could find ourselves in a highly dangerous situation with almost zero notice. I got a whiff of a sense of, Oh really, Pen? I think that sort of thing’s some way off, don’t you? Just because we’ve seen a few chunks and floes, doesn’t mean there’s a bear about in 98% ice-free water!… Within 24 hours, we saw the FOUR polar bears on ONE ice floe! I confess even I was astonished!’
      Not sure he has the same knowledge of these parts as you?

      • August 27, 2017 8:19 pm

        Dunno the guy.. Usually these x-plorer folks have done their theoretical homework ad nausium, considered the major premises, minor premises and their derived conclusions.

        But the real physics of the problem out on that silent land is non linear, and needs more MacGyver and less lawyer for every timeline iteration that presents itself along the way until you succeed or fail up/down the rabbit hole you dig.

  6. Nigel S permalink
    August 27, 2017 2:17 pm

    Makes one think of Shackleton’s journey in ‘James Caird’ and then crossing South Georgia when the alternative really was death for the whole crew.

  7. August 27, 2017 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  8. August 27, 2017 3:45 pm

    I doubt that the fraudsters have any conscience.

  9. John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia permalink
    August 27, 2017 4:06 pm

    They should have used wind power.
    “The crew then began the journey south. Weather conditions were constantly overcast and without solar power the batteries were slowly being drained. After five days of no visible sun the crew was forced to go on limited power supply. On day eight of the row the electrical equipment shut off as the batteries were drained.”

    • Geoff Sherrington permalink
      August 28, 2017 8:47 am

      Yep, John,
      As one who explored for minerals in the desert near Lake Disappointment and other dangerous places before GPS even, allowing your communications to power down is both suicidally poor planning and unforgivable lack of experience. Geoff.

  10. August 27, 2017 4:20 pm

    I’ve had this blog on my favourites bar for some time but got out of the habit of visiting it which I will now do again on a regular basis.

    Excellent blog keep up the good work.

  11. August 27, 2017 4:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    But still, global climate models will say: Does Not Compute!

    No coffins needed on this occasion fortunately.

  12. August 27, 2017 5:05 pm

    The bravery of these guys is astounding. The stupidity even more so!

    • Gamecock permalink
      August 27, 2017 6:28 pm

      I don’t see bravery. I see foolhardiness.

  13. August 27, 2017 6:45 pm

    “Sooner or later, these fraudsters will have lost lives on their conscience.”
    It already happened a couple years ago.

    Dutch skiers presumed drowned in High Arctic, say Nunavut RCMP

  14. August 27, 2017 7:06 pm

    I also remember having to re rig a ski on a Twin Otter on the ice strip in Grise Fiord under cover of a pup tent. Half an hour into it, a shot rang out and shortly after, one of the locals pulled up with a BIG polar bear strapped to his Komatik.. still steaming warm. Apparently it was headed our way, nose in the air, looking for an easy meal. Be careful out there. Don’t believe the spin that the Polar bears are gone.

  15. August 27, 2017 10:06 pm

    Their FB page has not much hint of failure
    It claims they achieved their initial goal and decided to add more on, a row to the ice sheet and it was on return that they came unstuck

    but their last tweet was Aug 22 ..not a sign of success

    • August 27, 2017 10:17 pm

      Ah that row to Iceland was always in their schedule
      So I guess the small journey to the ice shelf was the only bit tacked on.
      “With four new rowers Team Polar Row set off to sea once again on the 7th of August and decided to extend the project by adding a row North towards the Ice shelf. This was an exciting upgrade of their original plan and turned into an extraordinary part of the expedition. On August 10th the crew hit Arctic sea ice at 79 degrees 55 minutes North, therefore becoming the first recorded rowing boat to row to such a Northerly latitude.

      The crew then began the journey south.”
      “Having arranged a new crew and a private plane for transport he faced the wall as civilian planes are not permitted to land on Jan Mayen.”

      • August 27, 2017 10:18 pm

        BTW The BBC contacted them to be on the R4Today show on Monday

  16. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 27, 2017 11:00 pm

    Off topic:

    It appears that the NHC is calling Hurricane Harvey Cat 4 on the basis of a sole of 132mph.


    LAMAR 2 SSW 110
    ROCKPORT 1 S 108
    TAFT 5 NNE 90

    This seems to be at variance with the description of the Saffir Simpson scale:

    Of course, the extremely heavy rain will likely end up doing enormous damage and the flooding may cause significant loss of life – but that comes about because the storm is now static. Were NHC tempted to over-hype the winds and bolster the category, hoping no-one would notice? The measurements they have presented suggest that it may have been no more that Category 2 for sustained winds.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 27, 2017 11:02 pm

      a sole gust of 132mph…

    • dave permalink
      August 28, 2017 10:16 am

      Not the NHC. The Weather Prediction Center is a minor back-up department desperate to stick its nose in where it is not authorised. Of course, we know warmunistas everywhere weep with sexual joy whenever a weather disaster happens.

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 10:22 am

        The real-time monitoring of ‘Harvey’ still shows 115 mph as the official NHC estimate of maximum sustained wind (Cat III is 111-129):

        At some point this will be routinely ‘reanalysed.’

      • August 28, 2017 2:07 pm

        It’s Knots,Dave, not mph

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 10:29 am

        I was watching a “red-neck” comic a while back and he was musing about his friend Wilbur who had himself tied to a tree in Florida to prove that Hurricane wind was “nuthin!” Of course his mistake was to forget it was what the wind blew at you that mattered. “If’n you gets hit by a flying Volvo…”

      • A C Osborn permalink
        August 28, 2017 11:20 am

        Dave, that 115Mph is not at ground level where it is supposed to be for categorisation.
        It was more like 125Kph which is around 80Mph, both on NUSchool and Bouy data.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        August 28, 2017 12:53 pm

        It’s all part of NOAA, and the WPC link comes directly from NHC’s regular advisory reports.

        A list of rainfall observations compiled by the NOAA Weather
        Prediction Center can be found at:

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 6:43 pm

        Yes. Noted; 115 knots not mph.

        Maue does not actually specify the unit for wind here

        and I made a wrong assumption.

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 8:03 pm

        “…I made a wrong assumption.”

        NO! I did not.

        I am going back to my original statement.

        The unit IS mph when the National Hurricane Center issues its public advisories!

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 8:19 pm

        This – latest – advisory states 40 MPH.

        I believe Maue uses the figures for max wind speeds as they appeared in these advisories at the time (before ‘reanalysis’ of course); and so MPH does seem right.

        The 1-minute average seems really short; the rest of the world uses a 10-minute average.

      • dave permalink
        August 28, 2017 9:30 pm

        To really, really confuse things, I now think Maue does use knots for ‘intensity’, as forecast in real time. 115 knots was the forecast. But the later, actual satellite measurements showed the forecast to be wrong! ‘Harvey’ peaked at 100 knots which equalled 115 mph.

  17. roger permalink
    August 28, 2017 9:35 am

    Meanwhile on another ship of fools we find this non scientific adjudication from Rupert Hadow, a non scientist from Harrow school

    Of the sighting, expedition leader Pen Hadow said ‘This is another bittersweet moment during our voyage. The mother and cubs looked in good condition from afar, but the juvenile appeared to be in a challenging phase of its life. The good news is the essential food chain is currently supporting these bears. The cautionary twist is that survival may be marginal, and any new and avoidable risks to the food chain should be controlled by international policymakers before it is too late.

    Pretentious crap from a graduate reader of Roy of the Rover.

    • roger permalink
      August 28, 2017 9:44 am

      Further reading reveals that this was blogged from the CENTRAL Arctic Ocean at 76°35’N.!!

    • dave permalink
      August 28, 2017 10:02 am

      “…international policymakers…”

      A.K.A.. an unelected World Government of apparatchiks, (doubtless with a place for Mr Hadow as a well paid “expert”). I recommend a book by Francis Neilsen M.P. published in 1916 “How Diplomats Make Wars.” Dangerous and evil fools combine everywhere and always.

  18. Adam Gallon permalink
    August 28, 2017 11:00 am

    Reminds me, what’s that other serial Polar self-publicist Hadow getting on?
    27/Aug/2017 22:00:00 UTC
    079° 49.230N, 148° 47.935W / Course: 325° @ 2.5 knots
    1°C at 0m above sea level
    Seems a bit chilly to me.
    Well, well. “Within 24 hours, we saw the FOUR polar bears on ONE ice floe!  I confess even I was astonished!”

    • roger permalink
      August 28, 2017 2:30 pm

      He has yet to reach 80°N, the most southerly point at which DMI takes readings for the Arctic area.
      Not the central Artic ocean yet then!
      And polar bears cavorting all over the place it seems.

      • Robert B permalink
        August 29, 2017 10:10 am

        They seem to have changed their minds.
        “While breaking sailing records, and even reaching the North Pole itself, can make news headlines, the main purpose of Arctic Mission is intended to have value many years from now.”
        They have gone as far as they can go without an ice breaker unless the ice melts further .

  19. August 28, 2017 12:05 pm

    Getting Ready for Hottest Ever stories ?
    “Since the late Bank Holiday in August was established in 1965.
    So I am guessing it is probably not even the hottest August 28th on record.
    Definitely some gymnastics going on here .”

    Will it be the old laser pen on the thermometer trick at Heathrow ?

  20. The Rick permalink
    August 28, 2017 2:59 pm

    Could not you have baked brownies or cupcakes – much safer and much much lest costly, just sayin’

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