RES·O·LUTE

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - By Nick Walker

ad­jec­tive | Ad­mirably pur­pose­ful, de­ter­mined and un­wa­ver­ing. Meet the new RCGS Res­o­lute.

IT’S ONE OF THE MORE le­gendary and con­tro­ver­sial mo­ments in 19th-cen­tury po­lar ex­plo­ration: spring 1854, and Henry Kel­lett, cap­tain of HMS Res­o­lute, is lead­ing his men and the crews of In­trepid and In­ves­ti­ga­tor by foot and sledge across Arc­tic Ocean ice to dis­tant Beechey Is­land. When four of five ves­sels in Sir Ed­ward Belcher’s squadron were en­cased by pack ice, he had is­sued the un­pop­u­lar or­der for the cap­tains and crews to aban­don the ships rather than await a thaw and con­tinue on their mis­sion: res­cu­ing or de­ter­min­ing the fate of Sir John Franklin and the crews of Erebus and Ter­ror, miss­ing since their 1845 ex­pe­di­tion to find the North­west Pas­sage. As Kel­lett’s dis­grun­tled, frozen men slogged east to re­assem­ble and re­turn to Bri­tain, the empty Res­o­lute con­tin­ued a slow drift east that wouldn’t cease un­til late 1855. Some months ear­lier, Kel­lett had res­cued Cap­tain Robert Mc­clure and HMS In­ves­ti­ga­tor’s crew, who had for three years also been frozen tight in the west­ern Arc­tic. They were among the many British and even Amer­i­can ships that cruised the Cana­dian High Arc­tic in the 1850s, un­suc­cess­ful in their search for Franklin, but adding much to the world’s maps and knowl­edge of the po­lar re­gion. More than 100 years later, the Arc­tic land­scape, wa­ters and wildlife are no less pow­er­ful or in­hos­pitable, but as is also the case in Antarc­tica, the “vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence” has changed. A small hand­ful of cruise com­pa­nies now op­er­ate in the Arc­tic and South­ern oceans, and one of these, One Ocean Ex­pe­di­tions (the ex­clu­sive marine travel part­ner of The Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety), has just bol­stered its ex­pe­di­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties by bring­ing on a heav­ily ice-strength­ened ves­sel with a name straight out of ex­plo­ration his­tory. RCGS Res­o­lute is the first ves­sel flagged for the RCGS. Its in­au­gu­ral sail­ing un­der this en­sign, on Nov. 16, 2018, will be from Patag­o­nia to the Antarc­tic Penin­sula. And Res­o­lute is no ex­plo­ration-era bar­que: it cou­ples the high­est grade of ice-re­in­force­ment pos­si­ble for a pas­sen­ger ship with lux­u­ri­ous quar­ters, din­ing and ob­ser­va­tion ar­eas. On its first voy­ages it will tra­verse the fa­bled Drake Pas­sage be­tween South Amer­ica and the White Con­ti­nent more than 20 times while prob­ing the Antarc­tic Penin­sula, the Falk­land Is­lands and South Ge­or­gia — wa­ters ex­plored by the likes of Ernest Shack­le­ton, James Wed­dell and James Clark Ross — pass­ing well south of the Antarc­tic Cir­cle on some jour­neys. With the end of the Antarc­tic sum­mer, Res­o­lute will turn north, string­ing to­gether a num­ber of voy­ages along Chile’s Patag­o­nian coast, Cen­tral Amer­ica, Scot­land, Ice­land and Canada’s At­lantic prov­inces, reach­ing the ocean straits of the Arc­tic Ar­chi­pel­ago in time for the brief north­ern sum­mer. These ex­pe­di­tions will carry peo­ple on pil­grim­ages of po­lar his­tory and cul­ture, wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers and nat­u­ral­ists alike. But be­sides con­tin­u­ing to open up the Far North and South to many hun­dreds of Cana­di­ans and trav­ellers from around the world, Res­o­lute will also be used to trans­port and sup­port RCGS-spon­sored ex­plor­ers and re­searchers con­duct­ing sci­en­tific field­work in the Arc­tic. Read on to learn more about RCGS Res­o­lute’s fea­tures and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and the story be­hind its his­toric name­sake.

1. ICE CLASS Res­o­lute’s Lloyds 1A Su­per rat­ing (it fea­tures high-den­sity steel plat­ing, small frame spac­ing and re­in­forced stain­less steel pro­pel­lers), its nim­ble­ness and power make it ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing on through the kind of ice con­di­tions that halted po­lar ex­plo­ration ships for cen­turies, and where most other ves­sels still can’t go. Re­spect for the change­able na­ture of the po­lar oceans and pas­sen­ger safety, nev­er­the­less, un­der­pins all nav­i­ga­tion de­ci­sions.

2. OPEN-BRIDGE POL­ICY The nav­i­ga­tion crew wel­comes vis­its from pas­sen­gers and ques­tions about Res­o­lute, its lo­ca­tion and course, and the of­fi­cers on watch are among the best aboard when it comes to spot­ting wildlife, such as whales and sea birds. The bridge closes only dur­ing de­mand­ing nav­i­ga­tion or weather con­di­tions.

3. VAN­TAGE POINT The Deck 7 ob­ser­va­tion lounge and ship li­brary, lo­cated over the bow, is one of the finest places on board to scan the seas and land­scape.

4. CAB­INS Res­o­lute has six cabin cat­e­gories be­tween decks 3 and 6. All are newly ren­o­vated and ap­pointed, of­fer­ing 22 square me­tres of com­fort­able space with lounge ar­eas and ocean views. The lux­u­ri­ous Shack­le­ton and One Ocean suites, on Deck 6 be­tween the bridge and bistro and close to out­door ob­ser­va­tion spa­ces, are the ex­cep­tion, at a spa­cious 44 square me­tres.

5. RECRE­ATION Deck 7 houses a fit­ness cen­tre, dry sauna and steam room, a well­ness cen­tre with mas­sage ther­apy, a Jacuzzi, hot tub, pool and ac­cess to ob­ser­va­tion decks.

6. SHORE AC­CESS There are 14 Zo­di­acs on board, de­ployed for shore ex­cur­sions and up-close en­coun­ters in wilder­ness ar­eas. One Ocean pro­vides full ex­pe­di­tion gear pack­ages free of charge, in­clud­ing wa­ter­proof, in­su­lated jack­ets and bib pants, binoc­u­lars, a back­pack and other shore es­sen­tials.

7. SUSTENANCE Af­ter buf­fet break­fasts and lunches, five­course à la carte menus and an ex­cel­lent wine list set the tone in the main din­ing room in the evening (Deck 4). The bar and lounge (Deck 5) and bistro din­ing room (Deck 6) of­fer more ca­sual drinks and din­ing, all with sweep­ing views.

8. BE­HIND THE NAME RCGS Res­o­lute, the first ves­sel des­ig­nated a “Royal Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal Ship” (9, RCGS EN­SIGN) was named in hon­our of both the Royal Navy dis­cov­ery ship and the Inuit ham­let on Nu­navut’s Corn­wal­lis Is­land. Res­o­lute — Canada’s sec­ond most northerly com­mu­nity af­ter Grise Fiord — serves of­ten as the launch point for ex­pe­di­tions to the North Pole and in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific re­search teams. The ham­let was named for the same British ves­sel, which win­tered off Corn­wal­lis Is­land on its first ex­pe­di­tion (1850-51), dur­ing which searchers found traces of Franklin’s camps on nearby Beechey Is­land.

Af­ter its 1854 aban­don­ment, HMS Res­o­lute (10, ON LEFT) drifted east for al­most 2,000 kilo­me­tres. It was re­cov­ered the next year by an Amer­i­can whaler, sailed to the United States, re­paired and re­turned to Queen Vic­to­ria as an act of good­will be­tween na­tions. Af­ter its 1879 re­tire­ment, three desks were fash­ioned from its tim­ber, one of which was pre­sented to U.S. Pres­i­dent Rutherford B. Hayes. The Res­o­lute Desk has been used by U.S. pres­i­dents ever since, usu­ally in the Oval Of­fice. HMS Res­o­lute’s carved po­lar bear fig­ure­head (11) was sal­vaged, and is now housed in the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum, Green­wich, Lon­don.

BY NICK WALKER WITH IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY ANDY MORA

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