“It’s two in the morning on the 2nd of October, in the Arctic Ocean somewhere south of Spitsbergen and north of Bear Island, and I’m on watch on board the yacht Northabout. The waning moon casts a great shining track ahead of us; the Vikings’ whale road, and above stand the Northern Lights; a great green shimmering curtain of icy fire hanging down through space. Thousands of feet beneath us on the sea bed lie the crumpled hulks of British ships, sunk by the U-boats which preyed on the wartime convoys to Russia. Alone in the yacht’s cockpit, now huddled in whirling snow, I try to remember this spring’s walk through the English countryside. It already seems a distant dream of green meadows and sunny days”. This is a passage from my book Walking through Spring which is published by William Collins in April 2016.
This summer we helped to get Polar Ocean Challenge’s yacht Northabout up to 80 degrees North in the Arctic Ocean off Spitsbergen. In September I was first mate in the voyage back from the islands to the UK, taking in the fjords of Norway on the way back. I bumped through the ice next to a glacier in the aluminium yacht, tested the Garmin navigation gear and my Henri Lloyd foul weather clothes, and we think we have proved Northabout a capable vessel in which to attempt the circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean next year. David Hempleman Adams, the owner, will be going the whole way round.