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Old 05-03-2011, 09:31   #1
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Heedless Venture to Antarctica

A bunch of 'berserk vikings' from Norway set out on a badly planned venture to Antarctica with disastrous results. On a 'shoestring' budget they purchased a 40 year old steel/ferro sailing vessel around 45'.

Such a journey,including a landfall at the Scott base followed by a visit to the South Pole by two four wheeled motor bikes,for the occation fitted with tracks,required the approval from the Norwegian Polar Institute as well as from the New Zeeland authorities. Knowing well they would never receive approval,no applications were ever made,which could have saved 3 lives.

This 40 year old steel vessel headed for New Zealand with a crew of 5,heavily laden with equipment and provisions plus the two buggies on deck.

Having reached the Scott base,the skipper pluss the youngest crew member of 17 left for the pole while the 3 remaining crew were supposed to cruise around in the Arctic sea waiting for their return.

Unfortunately,a severe storm brewed up and with a temperature below -40C one can only guess that she became unstable and foundered in the huge seas. The sea area was also full of ice floes and ice bergs which may also have contributed to the disaster. Sea Shepherd which happened to be in the area was also taking part in the search and one could see the foredeck was covered in ice. The only wreckage found was a torn life raft full of ice.

The skipper and the 17 year old was returned to New Zealand where they await trial for breach of international laws and irresponsible conduct.

Their bow of their boat was decorated with a gaping sharks mouth and was named 'Berserk' The crew wore viking helmets and other stupid attires.

Goes to prove the sea is not a playground and should at all times be treated with humility and respect.

Many of their fans and followers in Norway are insenced because the skipper is put on trial for breaches of the laws,claiming the ocean and 'no man's land' is free for all,not considering that the same laws are there not only to protect nature from pollution and damage but also to protect lives,making sure that both crew,vessel and equipment are suitable for the venture.
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:47   #2
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Yep...its a sad story.
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:47   #3
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Wading in the shallow end of the gene pool?
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:49   #4
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pirate Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

In fact I would not be surprised if the Skipper is tried for involuntary manslaughter...
I know for a fact that any work I performed in homes (gas heating systems) that proved faulty and resulted in the death of someone I could be charged with involuntary manslaughter...
the reasons being causing death/s through negligence or incompetence...
The Skipper holds ultimate responsibility for all on his ship and any action beyond the norm that risks life and limb of the crew....
such as taking an inadequate and poorly prepared vessel... and quite possibly crew... into a place where bigger and better vessels struggle to survive...
They'd have had better chances harbour hopping Somalia...
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:52   #5
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

If sailors want to take risks, that's fine by me. The problem with reckless seafaring is that it endangers the lives of rescuers - both professionals and Good Samaritans.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:19   #6
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

This report from a professional on the site explains the whole sad story:

Three die in 'Viking' yacht off Antarctica
MICHAEL FIELD Last updated 05:00 27/02/2011


A foolhardy voyage to Antarctica by a group of self-proclaimed Vikings has cost three lives while forcing a New Zealand navy ship and its 55 crew into savage seas, damaging the new vessel.

Berserk, a Norway-flagged 45m-long steel yacht with three men aboard, disappeared on Tuesday, in McMurdo Sound, 33km north of Scott Base.

Yesterday it was confirmed that an empty liferaft, found by the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin, was from Berserk. There was also debris but no sign of the missing men.

Berserk had dropped two other men, with quad bikes bought in Auckland, on the ice. Last night they were trapped on the Ross Ice Shelf, trying to reach Scott Base, before the sea ice, which is breaking up, separates from Ross Island.

An Auckland mariner who saw Berserk in the Viaduct said the boat had been made unseaworthy by its heavy cargo, including the quad bikes lashed to the deck.

After Berserk's emergency beacon sent a Mayday signal, ice-strengthened patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington, commissioned last year and in McMurdo Sound, was dispatched.

"As we responded, we were stuck in the most intense storm I have ever encountered in 19 years in the navy," skipper Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffith told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday from inside the Antarctic Circle, enroute for Dunedin and a Thursday docking.

Hurricane force winds up to 182km/h "exploded off the Ross Ice Shelf" and sharp swells of 8m slammed into HMNZS Wellington.

Spray turned to thick ice on the decks. Aerials, lighting and speakers were swept away. Griffith ruefully noted they even lost their stern light.

Liferafts were ripped off. "We still have enough on board to keep us safe," he says. In the midst of it, Griffith got word of the Christchurch earthquake; he kept it to himself for 12 hours.

Wellington made it into the lee of Mt Erebus but once they entered McMurdo Sound they got slammed again.

"They were the biggest seas I have ever come across, but it was pretty obvious the ship was up for it." Nothing of Berserk was found.

On Monday they had met Berserk at Back Door Bay, where Shackleton's Hut stands.

"They gave us a call and asked us for a packet of cigarettes. We did not have any, but we gave them a cigar," says Griffith. The yacht was warned severe weather was coming.

"The yacht seemed a very sturdy, oceangoing yacht and they were three cheerful Norwegians."

Berserk leader Jarle Andhoy, 34, and Samuel Massie Ulvolden, 18, were attempting to reach the South Pole to mark the centenary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition.

The three left on the yacht were Robert Skaane, 34, Tom Gisle Bellika, 36, and South African Leonard Banks, 32.

Andhoy, a television celebrity in Norway, was fined recently for "trying to talk to the polar bears".

Canadian authorities arrested him on suspicion of being a member of the Hell's Angels and deported him.

Berserk needed to get permission from the Norwegian Polar Institute to sail below 60 degrees south.

Official Jan-Gunnar Winther confirmed they did not have permission.

Scott Base manager Troy Beaumont said the storm which hit Berserk and Wellington was "a bit of a doozy".

"There are a whole lot of treaties down here and they have managed to violate every one of them," he added.

Antarctic New Zealand CEO Lou Sanson told Radio New Zealand the two men on the ice shelf were stuck amidst crevasses in a whiteout with minus 20C temperatures.

"Why you would want to drive a motorbike to the South Pole at this time of year is completely beyond us.

"It just seems all the safety principles operating in Antarctica have been broken."

Auckland commercial skipper Kevin Peat saw Berserk at the Viaduct.

"They had all the stuff sitting on the dock and we thought there was no way they could get it onto the boat, but, over a two week period they slowly, but surely, lifted the gear into the boat," Peat said.

"We thought it was a joke, no way you would go with all that gear out it onto the ocean, certainly not the Southern Ocean."

It included 44 gallon drums of fuel lashed to the deck, along with quad bikes.

One bike was lashed over the engine room hatch.

Berserk was structurally sound but all the weight would have compromised its righting moment, meaning the boat would be vulnerable to capsize.

He said it would have cleared Customs but as a foreign flagged vessel, it could not be prevented from sailing, even though it was unsafe.

Tore
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Old 05-03-2011, 11:32   #7
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Hats off to Lt Com Griffith and his crew. I salute you.
Condolences to the families of those lost.
Full and proper legal proceeding and verdict for those responsible.
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Old 05-03-2011, 11:37   #8
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

After reading the account of the storm it sounds that even the profesionals that had the latest greatest stuff had problems.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:15   #9
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

I see from the weather forecast today at the Scott base they have -50 C.
Considering the combination of a storm with flying spray and that temperature,it would not take long before the thinnest stays and shrouds takes on a 10 cm diameter,multiply that by so many wires x height and you have a considerable wheight in addittion to all the ice accumulating on deck and railings. One puff of wind from the wrong quarter and over you go to never return.

This part of the world have hardly any sheltered ports or areas and the sea is full of drifting ice of various calibres including ice bergs. This is surely no place for a small sailboat.

My feelings and condolances goes out to the bereaved families and I ca'nt help feeling sorry for the skipper as well but hope he has learned his lesson.
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Old 05-03-2011, 13:16   #10
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Sinbad7,

Thanks for pulling the posts together with such great detail. We don't get that level of detail for most of the tragic disasters that happen. I know members hope to learn something from the reports that might help them in their travels. The severe conditions are mind numbing. To build enough ice on your shrouds only to succumb to their windage is pure terror. That anyone was saved is an enormous credit to a most heroic service. For those that did not it is a very deep loss to family and friends.
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Old 05-03-2011, 13:46   #11
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Those sailors should be remembered for their magnificent human spirit.They certainly wont be remembered for their gutless conformity.Where does this manslaughter talk come from?They were all adults.They knew what they were doing.There was no manslaughter.They knew they were gambling with their lives.How could anyone going down there not know that?Even a gutless conformist on a cruise ship knows there is a risk.So they gambled and lost.So what?
There needs to be an international law about adventurers not being allowed to have epirbs and other transmitters.Go for it,but you are on your own.
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Old 05-03-2011, 13:50   #12
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Paul..

With so many new borders beeing crossed by an ever increasing number of yachties I thought it appropriate in this forum to advice people to think twice and throroughly investigate the pros and cons of their proposed venture before setting sails.

The golden rule should be, if you ca'nt meet all the required conditions of safety,do'nt do it! And that also includes the cost the conditions.

SAFETY AT SEA SHOULD BE THIS YEARS MOTTO..
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Old 05-03-2011, 14:16   #13
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Quote:
Originally Posted by nonam View Post
Those sailors should be remembered for their magnificent human spirit.They certainly wont be remembered for their gutless conformity.Where does this manslaughter talk come from?They were all adults.They knew what they were doing.There was no manslaughter.They knew they were gambling with their lives.How could anyone going down there not know that?Even a gutless conformist on a cruise ship knows there is a risk.So they gambled and lost.So what?
There needs to be an international law about adventurers not being allowed to have epirbs and other transmitters.Go for it,but you are on your own.
The pages of history are littered with sailors and explorers possessed of a magnificent human spirit that died in pursuit of their dreams and ambitions. Those that followed them had complete faith in the leaders they chose to follow and were well aware of the risks involved and shared equally in the triumph or failure of their enterprise. It remains for the living to assign blame or glory to the victims.
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Old 05-03-2011, 14:17   #14
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

As any EXPERIENCED sailor knows,sailing between different countries requires strict adherence to the laws of the land,or, your boat will be confiscated and the crew end up in jail. Arriving at a new port,often up to 5-6 authorities has to be visited (in person) in the right sequence,or you start at the beginning.

The days of the free spirited Joshua Slocums are I'm affraid long gone. We live in a civilized society with many laws and regulations which must be upheld.

If anyone is suicidal enough to walk blindfolded down the M5 that's up to him,but do'nt bring anybody with you,and make sure you have a good insurance to clean up the mess!
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Old 05-03-2011, 14:32   #15
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Re: Heedless venture to Antarctica

Quote:
The pages of history are littered with sailors and explorers possessed of a magnificent human spirit that died in pursuit of their dreams and ambitions.
The age of exploration died 200 years ago when the USS Exploring expedition went to the waters of Antarctica as well as the Pacific. It was the last real sailing expedition. Probably the last expedition to venture into the unknown world and it was pretty late as it was.

If there is any tradition it is sailors exploring take everything known in the world with them and they work with the best available to them. No great exploration ever did less.
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