Stranded row­ers end their Arc­tic mis­sion

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

elec­tri­cal equip­ment shut off. That left the row­ers without nav­i­ga­tional aids and forced them to rely on man­ual steer­ing, ac­cord­ing to a post on the Po­lar Row Face­book page that re­counted the de­ci­sion to head for shore.

As con­di­tions aboard the 30-foot boat de­te­ri­o­rated, the row­ers aban­doned their in­tended course and headed for Jan Mayen is­land in­stead. The small vol­canic is­land is about half­way be­tween Nor­way and Green­land.

“I’ve never been so wet and cold for so long,” Alex Gregory, a Bri­tish rower and two-time Olympic gold medal­ist, wrote in an In­sta­gram post on Aug. 17, two days be­fore the crew reached land. “It’s seep­ing into my bones, there is ab­so­lutely no es­cape from it.”

On Mon­day, nine days af­ter reach­ing Jan Mayen, the crew of­fi­cially ended its jour­ney.

“A suc­cess­ful ex­pe­di­tion is also one where ev­ery­one goes home safe and in good health to their fam­ily and friends,” one of the row­ers, Carlo Facchino, wrote on the Po­lar Row Face­book page. “With that, our ex­pe­di­tion now comes to an end hav­ing achieved the ul­ti­mate in suc­cess.”

Jan Mayen is not per- ma­nently in­hab­ited, but is staffed by around 18 mem­bers of the Nor­we­gian Armed Forces and the Nor­we­gian Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal In­sti­tute who have a base there and wel­comed the crew into their fa­cil­i­ties.

As crew mem­bers wait to be evac­u­ated, they have been de­tail­ing their jour­ney on so­cial me­dia.

“The hos­pi­tal­ity has been un­be­liev­able — they’ve saved our lives,” Gregory said in a video posted to his Twit­ter ac­count.

The clip shows a des­o­late beach strewn with drift­wood and whale bones.

Pri­vate air­planes are not per­mit­ted to land on the is­land, so the row­ers are wait­ing to see when they might be able to re­turn home.

“There is news that a boat may be com­ing past next week that may have space on board for us,” Gregory wrote in a post on Satur­day. “Hope­fully they will be will­ing to al­low us to jump aboard and be­gin the jour­ney home.”

The ex­pe­di­tion’s cap­tain, Fiann Paul, ini­tially tried to have a fresh crew brought to the is­land to con­tinue the jour­ney, he said in an email. Flight re­stric­tions on Jan Mayen made that im­pos­si­ble, but Paul vowed to at­tempt the Arc­tic jour­ney again.

“We will row again,” he said, “maybe an even big­ger route than this one.”

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