Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Floaters

Amundsen's schooner finally to sail home

by Des Ryan on 10 Sep 2012
Maud half submerged, as she lies today in Cambridge Bay in the north of Canada .. .
The Maud, schooner sailed by legendary Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole and who made famous forays sailing into the Northwest Passage, is finally to sail home. Currently she is 'resting', partially submerged, in Nunavut's Cambridge Bay in Canada but a group in Norway has set plans to retrieve the vessel from where she has rested since she sank in 1930.

With an estimated cost of $5-million to $6-million to raise the 300-tonne vessel, the feat, now scheduled for next summer, will be also a challenging technical one.


' ‘There is no bad luck’ Amundsen used to say, ‘only good preparations,’ ' Jan Wanggaard, manager of the Maud Returns Home project, told the Globe and Mail. His team has completed plans to raise the Maud after spending several weeks in late-August at the site conducting final research. 'Of course, we’re expecting the unexpected as we try to raise the Maud. But I’m confident our plan will work.'

The Norwegians are hoping to make the Maud the centrepiece of a new museum built specifically for the ship. Mr. Wanggaard has taken small samples of wood to Norway, so that the experts can determine the best temperature and air-moisture conditions at which the ship must be kept to prevent future disintegration.

Named for Queen Maud of Norway, Norwegians believe the oak-hulled ship played a significant role in the building of the nation and its cultural history.


Launched in 1916, it was designed for Mr. Amundsen’s voyage to the North Pole. Mr. Amundsen made his name as the first explorer to reach the South Pole. Although the Maud did not reach the North Pole, it still made a famous foray into the Northwest Passage, and its crew collected scientific data and took meteorological, geophysical and oceanographic measurements.

'It holds a really special place in our hearts,' Mr. Wanggaard said. 'But we know it also is important to the people in Cambridge Bay, who are used to seeing it every day.'

The ship had been left to deteriorate ever since it became lodged in the ice because Cambridge Bay does not have the technical expertise to save it, said the hamlet’s mayor Jeannie Ehaloak.


Abandoned by Mr. Amundsen after three failed attempts to reach the North Pole, it was purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company and used as a floating machine shop, warehouse and wireless station. It issued the first regular winter weather reports for Canada’s Arctic coast. After developing a leak, it sank at its winter anchorage in Cambridge Bay 82 years ago.

Currently, only a small area of the ship’s starboard side is visible, while the rest sits on an angle on the seabed.

'I think the people accept it means more to Norwegians than to us,' Ms. Ehaloak said, who can see the wreck from her home. 'After all, we didn’t have any plans to raise it. If there was a boat out there that had something important to do with Inuit history, we would want it back, too.'

The Hudson’s Bay Company sold the ship for $1 in 1990 to Asker, a wealthy seaside suburb of Oslo, where the ship was built, with the expectation that she would be returned to the port. But the permit from the Canadian government expired while funds were being raised, and the Maud remained in her watery grave.


Earlier this year, a private enterprise led by Mr. Wanggaard appealed to the federal government again for permission to retrieve the ship. While the state of Norway isn’t involved, the embassy in Ottawa presented an application on behalf of the private enterprise at the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board in March.

'The application had to be forwarded by a resident in Canada, so that’s how we got involved … to try and place this ship in the historical context of Norway’s heritage,' said Tobias Svenningsen, minister counsellor at the embassy.

'We have a long tradition of maritime exploration going back to the Viking age, but this was the only boat built for Amundsen and he oversaw its construction,' Mr. Svenningsen said.

While the part of the Maud that is exposed to the air all year seems nearly unchanged from pictures taken in the early 1990s, Mr. Wanggaard said the area submerged roughly two metres down is constantly exposed to tearing from the winter ice.


Still, his team has confidence in the structural strength of the Maud because it hasn’t yet rotted underwater or been damaged by micro-organisms.

The team of 10, a mix of three divers and other engineering experts, will use air buoyancy to move the Maud, Mr. Wanggaard explained. She will then be guided 6,850 kilometres across the Northwest Passage and Atlantic Ocean by an ice-breaker tug back to the naval museum in Vollen, Norway.

As a token of thanks for the soon-to-be-gone Maud, the team built a cairn – a traditional Norwegian memorial made of rocks – next to the site.

'Definitely I will miss it,' said Ms. Ehaloak of the ship, adding, 'but the cairn is nice and it was very well received by the community.'

Related Articles

Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
Thou doth protest too much, me thinks
And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen about now. At any rate, it is simply an adaptation of Lady Gertrude’s original line. We merely seek to use it as a way to demonstrate that when there is a lot of brouhaha going on, the smoke screen ultimately ends up as a lovely, colourful flag as to the real intent behind it.
Posted on 18 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
Southern Spars - 100Bakewell-White Yacht DesignBarz Optics - Melanin Lenses