speed of voyage that took two summers 15 years ago highlights
severity of ice melt
Oct 13, 2016, 01:00
boat ‘Northabout’, with a British crew, completed the
circumnavigation of the North Pole in seven weeks. Photograph: Polar
Irish-built yacht which took two summers to make the first
circumnavigation of the Arctic ice cap by a small boat has completed
a similar voyage in just seven weeks due to global warming.
15-metre aluminium yacht Northabout was due to reach the Co Mayo
coast on Wednesday night and sail from Blacksod Bay into Westport on
board for the record-breaking voyage was Irish woman Barbara
Fitzpatrick (49) from Ballybay, Co Monaghan, who has become the first
Irish woman to sail through both the Northeast and Northwest
years ago, sailors Máire Breathnach and Sibéal Turraoin from Ring,
Co Waterford, set the record for the first Irish women to sail
through the Northwest passage – then an ice-bound Arctic route
linking the Atlantic and Pacific.
Fitzpatrick was one of two women – the second being North American
sailor Constance Difede – to complete the anti-clockwise polar
circumnavigation from Russia to Canada and west Greenland which was
led by English adventurer David Hempleman-Adams.
crew panel included 14-year-old British schoolboy Ben Edwards, who
was raising funds for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in
had an amazing trip – polar bears with their cubs, seals every day
– but it was quite a surprise to see how the ice had melted, as I
had been to the North Pole and South poles before and had skied
across Baffin Island in the Arctic,” Ms Fitzpatrick said, speaking
from her home in Bath.
and Northabout builder Jarlath Cunnane said he was shocked by the
quick nature of the voyage.
Cunnane, from Co Mayo, was skipper of the Irish expedition on
Northabout which navigated the Northwest and Northeast passages in
the Arctic in 2001 and 2004 respectively. He was awarded the Blue
Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America for his efforts.
would never have imagined that within 14 years of setting out on our
two-season voyage, climate change could have such an impact,” he
Michael Brogan, who was a fellow member of the original Northabout
voyage, recalled that both the Northeast and Northwest passages were
“choked with ice” between 2001 and 2005.
scary how the ice has disappeared in 10-15 years, but it is also a
testament to Jarlath who built the boat that Northabout has achieved
and survived those two historic voyages,” Dr Brogan said.
Hempleman-Adams purchased Northabout from the Irish team with an aim
of trying to break the polar circumnavigation record.
businessman has already climbed the highest peaks on all seven
continents and travelled to the north and south geographical and
magnetic Poles. He has broken 47 Federation Aeronautique
Internationale ballooning records.
and his crew left the yacht in Greenland, and Northabout was then
sailed by a professional crew to Ireland, en route to the boat’s
new home port of Bristol, England.