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Pen Hadow Gives Up- Blocked By Sea Ice!

August 31, 2017

By Paul Homewood






Pen Hadow’s attempt to sail to the North Pole has been rather embarrassingly brought to an abrupt halt by sea ice!

The furthest North they got was 80 degrees 10 minutes, and after being moored to an ice floe for a day, the decision was made to turn tail and head south.






The Arctic Mission website tries to put the best spin on it:

Arctic Mission’s furthest North was 80 degrees 10 minutes North, 148 degrees 51 minutes West, reached at 22:04:12 (Alaskan Time, GMT-9hours) on 29 August 2017 by yachts, Bagheera and Snow Dragon II.

Arctic Mission moored its yachts to an ice floe on 29 August to conduct one of its 24-hour marine science surveys, while drifting with the sea ice. The strategy for any future northward progress had been to monitor the sea surface currents, sea ice, and weather conditions (both observed from the yachts and through satellites imagery downloaded onto our computers), and decide how to proceed as we approached the end of the 24-hour survey.

A meeting of the four skippers was held led by Erik de Jong, with Pen Hadow present, and it was agreed further northward progress would increase considerably the risks to the expedition, with very limited scientific reward. The decision to head south, back to an area of less concentrated sea ice in the vicinity of 79 degrees 30 minutes North, was made at 18.30 (Alaskan time).

Arctic Mission has demonstrated that commercial fishing and shipping vessels can now access and exploit a new, unexplored and vulnerable ocean region on the planet, the Central Arctic Ocean, due to the melting of its sea-ice cover. Approximately 1 million square kilometres of the Central Arctic Ocean is likely to have been ice-free this summer, having had year-round ice cover throughout human history until the 1980s, and likely has had for many tens of thousands of years.

The commercial activities made possible by this loss of summer sea ice puts at risk the extraordinary wildlife that has evolved to survive in this extreme environment. Polar bears, whales, seals, fishes, seabirds, invertebrates and microbes all contribute to a unique and special ecosystem which is unlike any other on earth.

Arctic Mission has undertaken an extensive oceanographic, wildlife and ecosystem research programme during the voyage, led by Tim Gordon of the University of Exeter (UK). This has included work on acoustic ecology, copepod distributions and physiology, microplastic pollution surveying, inorganic carbon chemistry, seabird range expansion and microbial DNA sequencing. Scientific findings will be released following comprehensive data analysis and formal publication in peer-reviewed journals in 2018/19.

It is believed Arctic Mission has sailed further north from the coastlines surrounding the Arctic Ocean than any vessel in history without icebreaker support.

Its vessels were the first to reach the international waters surrounding the North Pole (aka the Central Arctic Ocean), without icebreaker support and without freezing in.

Its vessels have set the first furthest north within the Central Arctic Ocean without icebreaker support.

Arctic Mission’s northernmost position was 590 nautical miles (678.5 statute miles) from the North Pole.”



Much of what they claim is sheer drivel. There is absolutely no evidence that this part of the ocean has not been ice free many times in recent human history. We do know that the Arctic was been much warmer in the Middle Ages, for instance.

They also claim that they have sailed further north without ice breaker support than anybody else. But I am not aware of anyone who has actually tried to. And certainly not in boats specially built to sail in waters with sea ice.

Despite repeated claims of ice free seas, the writing has been on the wall for the expedition for several days, during which they have been meandering around the same area of ocean, presumably trying to find a way through the ice.




2-Hourly Plots from 26th August


They are now retreating to 79 degrees 30 minutes North, and it is possible they may make another attempt if the ice miraculously disappears. However, there is no sign of this, and NORSEX even show the sea ice extent increasing in recent days, and well above last year’s levels.


The ice to the north of them is very thick: 

And Arctic temperatures are well below zero:



Hadow will doubtlessly return home to be feted by the BBC, where he will claim that the objective was never to reach the North Pole, but only to do scientific research.

But let’s not forget what the headlines on their own website say:


Just one more abysmal failure, which will join the list of all the other failed attempts to walk, row and sail to the North Pole.

  1. dave permalink
    August 31, 2017 10:46 am

    As expected by yours truly and many others Mr Hadow has declared victory and is now skedadeling. He also has proclaimed his own version of the Hockey Stick:

    “Approximately 1 million square kilometers of the Central Arctic Ocean is likely to have been ice-free this summer, having had year-round ice-cover throughout human history until the 1980’s, and likely has had for many tens of thousands of years.”

    Such a pity the REAL scientists say he is full of it:

    Click to access mckay_etal_CJES_08.pdf

    “The amplitutude of these millenial-scale changes in sea-surface conditions far exceed
    those observed at the end of the 20th century.”

    • dave permalink
      August 31, 2017 10:53 am

      They also said it was going to be a voyage AROUND the North Pole. How delusional was that?

      • August 31, 2017 11:07 am

        beautifully and fundamentally. with, perhaps, the accent on the …”mental”… !

      • August 31, 2017 10:30 pm

        Ha – I was just looking for that . . as I saw it before. Found it, and was coming back here to post a comment. You beat me to it Dave.
        But for our enjoyment . . a post from ‘ArcticMission’ on their facebook page on
        Aug 27th:

        Arctic Mission
        August 27 at 4:56am ·

        A missive from expedition co-leader and Bagheera skipper Erik de Jong:

        ‘It’s shocking to see how open the water is, almost no ice of any significance, therefore we can sail practically the course we want and at full speed. It is pretty cold out here, the air is a few degrees below freezing, and the water is a couple degrees below freezing. Due to the salinity of the seawater, it remains liquid, but it is border line. Fresh water patches are frozen, and so is the bottom of our fresh water tank! The pick up line for fresh water is frozen shut and there is no more water coming out of the faucet. The prediction is that warmer waters from the south are moving in shortly, so it should remedy itself over the next few days.’

        Guess the prediction was worth . . sea ice.

      • duker permalink
        September 3, 2017 9:16 pm

        More of their pre- departure spin

        ““If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the 21st century faces,” said the explorer.”

        Interestingly there is one bit of science hes not talking about:
        Padow has proved his theory is false, but I bet no one on the interview circuit hes going on will mention that great achievement

    • August 31, 2017 11:35 am

      Strange claim: “Approximately 1 million square kilometres of the Central Arctic Ocean is likely to have been ice-free this summer”.
      MASIE shows the Central Arctic Sea maxes at ~3.25M km2 each March. The lowest it got in last decade was 2.62M km2 in 2012. Average minimum is 2.91M km2 for the Central Arctic. And it is not an ice cap, it is all drift sea ice.

      • Athelstan permalink
        August 31, 2017 11:56 am


      • dave permalink
        August 31, 2017 5:44 pm

        They mean the bit of the Central Arctic Ocean that is not in the Central Arctic Ocean.

  2. August 31, 2017 10:56 am

    Another bunch of fools on another ship of fools. Is there any indication of the cost of this complete waste of money?

  3. August 31, 2017 10:57 am

    Seems as though he failed by about 10 degrees. That’s a lot of ice in his way.

  4. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 31, 2017 11:03 am

    If these buggers played cricket, England would have the world’s best spinners!
    The peer reviewed publications promise will no doubt be full of Exeters and Wadhams.

    • John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia permalink
      August 31, 2017 11:15 am

      Send them to the Australian team for our next Test against Bangladesh. BTW, I wonder if any are good at keeping wickets. 🙂

  5. August 31, 2017 11:15 am

    I get the impression that they desperately wanted to reach 80N. (Never mind that there are bits of Greenland further north than they reached.)

    Turning back now is a smart decision.

    • Peter permalink
      September 1, 2017 10:16 am

      In order to claim that they sailed further north than any vessel in history, they indeed had to go a bit passed 80 degrees. Back in June 1596 (yep, more than 400 years ago, an are without diesel powered ice breakers), Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz and his crew discovered Spitsbergen, which most northern point is 80 degrees 6 minutes.

  6. August 31, 2017 11:16 am

    By the way, the ERA40 shows the data for 31st July.

  7. August 31, 2017 11:23 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    They found a longitudinal finger of ice-free sea, and like being in a box canyon, they “hit the wall”, meandered about for a while, and called it quits. They then proceed to make outlandish and unsupportable historical claims and toast themselves as victors. Their hubris runs deep.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      August 31, 2017 2:35 pm

      After hubris comes Nemesis

  8. quaesoveritas permalink
    August 31, 2017 11:35 am

    I can’t wait to see the BBC’s response to this.

    • dave permalink
      August 31, 2017 11:48 am

      “”…the BBC’s response…”

      “The important objectives [propagandist BS] were achieved!”

      Personally, I am rooting for the sea-ice.

    • Curious George permalink
      August 31, 2017 3:03 pm

      To recap: BBC, 15 Aug, 2017: “British explorer Pen Hadow and his crew have set sail from Alaska, in an attempt to become the first people ever to sail to the North Pole. With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up”.

      This will enter the record books as the shortest polar exploration ever.

      • dave permalink
        August 31, 2017 4:51 pm

        The BBC journos with cotton wool where their brains should be, will say, as per the second sentence, “they went to inaccessible waters” and COMPLETELY IGNORE their first statement of the inaccessible waters actually aimed for. The airbrush and the whitewash is not only for the wobbly bits on aging ladies.

  9. August 31, 2017 11:52 am

    Wasn’t it a BBC team that actually achieved an unorthodox trip to the North Pole?
    In a Toyota Landcruiser, CO2 Generating Leviathan?
    On a BBC Budget!
    Top Gear!?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 31, 2017 12:40 pm

      And using polar ice in their G&Ts until that bit was cut from the reruns due to the safety stasi.

    • Gerald Machnee permalink
      September 1, 2017 3:31 am

      They went to the Magnetic North pole not geographic. I think several hundred miles short.

      • Nigel S permalink
        September 1, 2017 12:27 pm

        Yes, that was part of the joke. They went by indestructable ‘Hilux’ of course, Land Cruiser for the softies in the film crew.

      • MartinW permalink
        September 1, 2017 5:14 pm

        Yes. I believe they reportedly drove to a northern part of one of the Canadian Islands (?Ellesmere) which is always shown as land in atlases. We do not know how far they drove, or whether the vehicles were helicoptered in for some of the way. Anyway, it was a jolly jape with lots of ice – i.e. pointing out a distinct lack of global warming!

  10. Green Sand permalink
    August 31, 2017 12:06 pm

    ‘Pen Hadow Gives Up’

    Doubt it. More likely the skippers suggested that if he wanted to go further he should get out and walk.

    It always was a a rent seeking publicity stunt with zero chance of attaining any of its publicised geographical aims. But as the MSM will make no challenge, it will be lauded as a successful ‘expedition’ which it was never intended to be.

  11. christopher booker permalink
    August 31, 2017 12:33 pm

    Paul, I could not believe it when you told us today that Hadow had been idiotic enough to repeat the fiasco of his earlier attempt to walk to the North Pole in 2009, which I wrote about several times, including this account taken from my 2011 paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation in on “The BBC and Climate Change”:
    “….Meanwhile the BBC was also giving prominent coverage to the progress of
    another publicity stunt, the Catlin Arctic Survey. This was a venture sponsored by
    a City firm, which specialised in insuring ‘climate risks’, under the patronage of
    Prince Charles and the WWF. A three-man team under Pen Hadow planned to
    trek to the North Pole to measure how fast Arctic ice was disappearing thanks to
    global warming.
    Everything about this expedition, which had left Britain frozen under snow
    and ice during its coldest winter for 13 years, quickly degenerated into farce.
    Hadow reported via the BBC that the Arctic was ‘much colder’ than they had
    expected. Their electronic measuring equipment froze so that they had to
    replace it with an old tape measure. Progress turned out to be so painful that
    in May, filmed by a BBC crew, they had to be airlifted off the ice back to the
    safety of a fossil-fuel driven support ship, having discovered nothing of scientific
    value. Even their claim, by a satellite link to Prince Charles, that they had found
    the ice ‘thinner than expected’ was contradicted by German and Canadian
    scientists, who flew past them all the way to the Pole, using proper equipment,
    to find that the ice was ‘somewhat thicker’ than it had been in earlier years. At
    least when David Shukman came to film the moment of the team’s rescue, he
    had the tact not to ask them anything about their scientific researches.

  12. Gerry, England permalink
    August 31, 2017 12:45 pm

    Nice repeat use of the word ‘likely’. So if I said if you give me a million quid it is likely I will give you a house how many would be game for that? It’s difficult not to wish one of these dumb adventures gets into serious trouble.

    • August 31, 2017 4:46 pm

      ‘Approximately 1 million square kilometres of the Central Arctic Ocean is likely to have been ice-free this summer, having had year-round ice cover throughout human history until the 1980s, and likely has had for many tens of thousands of years.’

      Bzzzt! ‘tens of thousands of years’ is an unsupported assertion.

  13. dearieme permalink
    August 31, 2017 12:46 pm

    The “Climate Scientists” are, of course, liars and frauds. Mr Hadow is presumably just a gullible fool.

  14. Bloke down the pub permalink
    August 31, 2017 12:57 pm

    And today, the weather forecast for Barrow Alaska was 34⁰F and snow.

  15. Curious George permalink
    August 31, 2017 2:50 pm
    Press Release – Team Polar Row successfully reaches Jan Mayen.

    • August 31, 2017 5:37 pm

      But that’s only 71 degrees North.

      Padow’s crew: ‘The furthest North they got was 80 degrees 10 minutes’

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        August 31, 2017 7:45 pm

        C’mon OB, that’s a bit unfair. Looking at the map on the original post on this site, it seems they got further north than Smeerenburg, which is above 79°N – in a rowing boat – and they were doing it for charity. Bonkers, yes, but that’s nearly as good as our friend Pen. Actually to 79°55’50” according to their site

        From Wikipedia, the Dutch, Danes, Basques and English were all fighting over Smeerenburg in the 1600s, and 7 Dutch blokes over wintered there from 1633-4. There’s a fort there, with maybe a couple of hundred folks in it at the time. Doesn’t seem so far above civilisation really does it? But I think I’ll stay down here at about 55N 🙂

  16. August 31, 2017 5:51 pm

    Ice Smice
    That’s old hat
    The BBC/Guardian story is that Ben Nevis is snow free.

    .. My guess is it won’t be long before fresh winter snow arrives.

  17. August 31, 2017 6:30 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    The low sea ice at the start of the year flattered to deceive

  18. August 31, 2017 6:58 pm

    The BBC is consistently delusional when it comes to climate issues.

  19. Bitter&twisted permalink
    August 31, 2017 8:15 pm

    Why does the Baised Bull$hit Cartel give to$$ers like Pr1ck Hadlow the time of day?
    Perhaps it is because of its “unique funding system”?

  20. glenwaytown permalink
    August 31, 2017 8:48 pm

    The BBC’s Today program carried a report from the yachs this morning – about polar bear sightings. They failed to mention the primary aim of the party to sail to the N Pole had already been abandoned. Didn’t fit the narrative. This expedition will be quickly buried in the memory hole.

    • August 31, 2017 9:42 pm

      Looks that way – zilch on the BBC website.

      Some creative excuses needed 😉

      • stewgreen permalink
        September 1, 2017 3:12 pm

        24 July 2017 R4Today Audio no longer available
        Blurb : The explorer Pen Hadow was the first person to walk solo across the pack ice from Canada to the North Pole in 2003 and he’s about to start a new quest in a very different way – he’ll try to be the first person to sail there in a yacht.

        Mr Hadow is aiming to highlight the effect climate change is having on the ice caps and get the area protected to stop it being exploited. He says the receding of sea ice means his original route on foot is “no longer possible”.
        (wonder if that is true ?)

    • Jones permalink
      September 3, 2017 12:25 am

      “polar bear sightings”

      Thin bears?

  21. Rosco permalink
    August 31, 2017 9:37 pm

    So in reality they made it to within 1113 km of the pole.

    A circle of that radius has an area of almost 3.9 million square kilometres – perhaps he picked the wrong route ?

  22. August 31, 2017 10:43 pm

    The spin Hadow is putting on this is dizzying. Unfortunately for him, his website is remembered by the Wayback Machine, exposing him totally for the CAGW shill he is.

  23. Brian Johnson in the Surrey Hills UK permalink
    September 1, 2017 6:00 am

    BBC Countryfile uses Climate Change, Sea Level Rise, Warmest year ever, in almost every
    programme. I am sure Hadow the Failure will be featured later this year as a successful Polar Explorer [Not].

  24. stewgreen permalink
    September 1, 2017 3:32 pm

    WUWT now has the story
    From the comments
    Why do BBC have such loony Climate thoughts
    Ans : cos they’ve been drinking Fool Aid, Green Fool Aid

  25. stewgreen permalink
    September 1, 2017 3:43 pm

    From the About us page
    “Our expedition is going to explore, discover and share the stories of the spectacular marine wildlife – plants, animals and even bacteria – that live around the North Pole. Be prepared to be surprised!”

    still waiting..since they didn’t get closer 600 miles away

  26. stewgreen permalink
    September 1, 2017 3:51 pm

    Note the website banner graphic change from 26-1 “to the North Pole
    to 27-1 “around the North Pole

  27. September 1, 2017 5:55 pm

    Aug15 Stephen Roberts tweeted his 2 part BBC TV interview
    click the time/date bit open up the thread and see second vid

    • September 1, 2017 6:11 pm

      another bbc video item from same day

      Here’s a direct link to 1:08m of a BBC audio from July “It’s quite possible we will reach the north geographic pole”

      • September 8, 2017 10:27 pm

        BTW note the URL of the first video

        It makes it sound abosolutely like they will be at the North Pole
        Entire text
        “Pen Hadow sets sail for North Pole as Arctic ice melts
        British explorer Pen Hadow and his crew have set sail from Alaska, in an attempt to become the first people ever to sail to the North Pole.
        With Arctic ice melting at an unprecedented rate, previously inaccessible waters are opening up, creating the potential for their planned 5,500 km (3,500 mile) journey for the first time in human history.”
        There never was any potential for such a journey so that would be a lie.

  28. September 1, 2017 7:22 pm

    Hey how’d his online fundraising go ?
    £402 GBP raised 2% of £25,000

    Check the discounts on the merchandise

  29. September 1, 2017 8:37 pm

    As ever the GreatWhiteCon guy chronicles the event from the alarmist view see comments
    Note the way they comment on 24th August
    yet don’t come back until August 31 , 2 days after the boats had turned south.
    See also his forum

    – Hadow needed satellite cos he’d be looking to navigate finger cracks in the ice
    – They seem to think that Hadow had opened his mouth too much cos getting anywhere near Pole would have been miracle,
    – Say Hadow claims a record by carefully wording and discounting a Russian yacht last year , cos it got rescued on the way back .. andit could sled ontop of ice.

    Dellers has an article now Ship of Fools IV: Another Green Arctic Expedition Scuppered by Ice

  30. September 2, 2017 5:54 am

    “The decision to head south…” LOL Like they had an option to continue the remaining 678.5 statute miles to the North Pole? Nope.

  31. Jones permalink
    September 2, 2017 11:35 pm

    “They also claim that they have sailed further north without ice breaker support than anybody else. But I am not aware of anyone who has actually tried to. And certainly not in boats specially built to sail in waters with sea ice.”

    Hope this helps.

  32. Stuart Brown permalink
    September 6, 2017 1:06 pm

    Hardy folks, the 2000+ souls in Longyearben above 78°N, but our friend Pen Hadow is also now south of Upernavik (pop 1000+) at 72°N. Heading home rapidly.

    “The day we reached 80N, strong NW winds to our north could have opened up the existing ice-free channels to beyond 85N. But within 24 hours the opposite happened, contrary to opinion onboard and ashore, and it was deemed prudent to head south and continue our scientific work in the CAO away from the highly concentrated ice.”

    Doesn’t sound like…

    “We have demonstrated the degree of access now possible to commercial fishing and commercial shipping…”

    …to me. Anyway, I would have thought him against commercialising the area!

    Anyone know how far North that Russian LNG tanker was recently?


  1. Ship of Fools IV: Another Green Arctic Expedition Scuppered by Ice | Headline of the Day
  2. Failure: he doesn’t even know how to spell the word – Orphans of Liberty
  3. Ship of Fools IV: Another Green Arctic Expedition Scuppered by Ice – Reformation Testimony
  4. The Climate is Changing

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