A 73-year-old retired British engineer, who only started sailing on retirement, has become the first person to circumnavigate the Arctic Circle by boat clockwise, making the journey with just one crew member.
Jeffrey Allison set off from Hartlepool in June, sailing to Iceland, Greenland, around Alaska, Russia and Scandinavia in his 52ft Amel Mango called Eshamy, accompanied by 28-year-old Australian sailor Katherine Brownlie. They have now reached Norway, and must only complete a crossing of the North Sea to reach Britain again.
Eshamy, 52ft Amel Mango ketch, in Cambridge Bay during the journey - .. .
Even though he started sailing late, he had had plenty of practice before undertaking the northern passage. He had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean six times, through the Panama Canal, and across the Pacific, Indian and Arctic Oceans.
The voyage was only made possible by receding ice in the Arctic Circle, which this year has reached record lows and is thought to be as a result of global warming. At one point, the two spent 40 days and 40 nights sailing without seeing land, showing just how much Arctic Ice has receded.
It was not his first attempt, which makes the achievement all the sweeter. He has made several attempts, and was almost sunk by Russian coastguards in 2009 for sailing over the Barents Sea without permission.
Despite insisting that he was sailing in international waters, he and his two crewmates were arrested, and a Russian court found Mr Allison guilty of the offence and fined him 2,000 roubles.
His visa was also revoked – meaning he can’t return to Russia until 2014. The delay also thwarted his record attempt.
However, none of this deterred the determined Mr Allison, and he merely planned for his next attempt. His family, who have watched and worried about his journey for many months, told home newspapers they were extremely proud of him. He had told them by phone that he was tired, but in good spirits and thrilled that he and his crew member had successfully completed the journey so far.
Mr Allison’s wife, Prue, said: 'He is such an unassuming man, but is so brave and determined. He is to be admired and respected for his achievements. Good things come out of Hartlepool - and return.' Editor's Note:
In September 2010, two yachts completed circumnavigation of the Arctic: Børge Ousland's team aboard 'The Northern Passage', and Sergei Murzayev's team in the 'Peter I'. These were the first recorded instances of the circumnavigation of the Arctic by sailing yachts in one season. Both are believed to have circumnavigated in an anti-clockwise direction.