Friday, April 16, 2010

Voyager Updates

Half way to the North Pole Tom Smitheringale fell thorough the sea ice and spent ten minutes trying to get out. He managed, set up his tent, lit his stove and hit the ON button on his EPIRB device, which sends out an electronic shriek saying "GET ME OUT IMMEDIATELY" to any and all in range. By sheer luck, Canadian special forces were training in the area and he was picked up in a matter of hours. Photos of him at the weather station at Alert show him smiling, eating, though with some moderate frostbite to fingertips. Just a few years ago, when N Pole expeditions were much less common, that dunking would have been a death sentence. "Medics at Alert examined Tom’s frostbitten fingers and toes while the staff “scrambled to find dry clothing that would fit his 6'6 frame.”

After weathering an attack by three wild dogs Ripley Davenport managed to cross some difficult terrain before his sledge broke down in Mongolia; he is awaiting evacuation back to Denmark. "Unable to move, I waited in a bitterly windy and icy dark Steppe for evacuation."

Jessica Watson's solo circumnavigation is getting a little rough as she approaches home, with a torn sail and rough seas in recent days: "as I started to think things were improving the wind suddenly started gusting like crazy, laying Ella's Pink Lady right over on her side and pinning her there. While I was having some serious fun (note sarcasm!) reefing in the cockpit (double clipped on of course!), down below, water was flooding in up through the sink because of the crazy angle we were on. Normally I shut the sink seacock when the weather’s a bit bouncy. But having thought that things were quietening down, I'd only just opened it again. The water flooded right through the galley then into the bilges. But Ella’s Pink Lady's pumps soon had it out again. I'm not particularly thrilled about my soggy mess of a galley..."

In Siberia, Dimitri Kieffer and Nyurgun Efremov lost a tent, blown away in a gust, and spent a night in the open during a storm, or part of the night before they dug a snow cave. Of his partner, separated from him in the storm, Dmitri reports: "Nyurgun had chosen indeed along the way to stop and bury himself inside his sled during the night, escaping partially the purga and arriving in town around 5pm on Saturday night. I was amazed to find out that, thanks to his smaller corpulence, he was able to not only sleep but especially able to manage to boil himself some water while lying inside his sled fully zipped and cook himself a meal between his legs! Quite a feat, I must say!"

I've just helped Chiu Liang Kuo prepare some charts and a digital sound recorder for his upcoming 30-day expedition to Baffin Island. No sat phone, no EPIRB, a spear only for polar bear defense. Chiu is off on Sunday.

Step out your front door, and there's no telling what's going to happen!

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