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Day 813
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SV Berserk & Crew

Mar 2

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3/2/2011 3:29 AM  RssIcon

My buddy and fellow solo sailor Nick Jaffe from bigoceans.com posted this today on his blog.  The loss of Berserk and 3 of her crew are big loss.  I couldn’t agree with his sentiments more so I didn’t try to improve on his words.  Thanks Nick.


Posted on March 2, 2011 by Nick

It is with great disappointment that the search for famed sailing vessel SV Berserk has officially been called off, as of March 1st, 10pm, by Maritime NZ.

Captained by Jarle Andhøy, skipper of multiple wild voyages in polar regions, Berserk went missing while Andhøy and Samuel Massie were attempting to reach the south pole on ATV’s, leaving a crew of three onboard in their absence. During Andhøy & Massie’s expedition south, the Berserk beacon was briefly detected, before going dark… The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, HMNZS Wellington, and Professor Khromov, all spent a combined total of 141 hours searching for the stricken vessel, covering 25,600km2 of water, and finding nothing but an empty liferaft and no further communications from Berserk.

The voyages of the Berserk are legendary… And worthy of remembering as part of the greatest expeditions in sailing history upon small boats. Unfortunately the Sunday Star Times (NZ) wrote the voyage off as a “foolhardy voyage to Antarctica by a group of self-proclaimed Vikings… Which has cost three lives while forcing a New Zealand navy ship and 55 of its crew into savage seas, damaging the new vessel”…

With two ATVs perilously strapped to the deck of the relatively small 48ft steel vessel, Berserk went deep south into Antarctica against Norwegian Polar Institute guidelines, which ‘prohibited’ them from going beyond 60 degrees south. Captain Jarle Andhøy retorted with “we don’t need permission to sail down there.” … And continued the expedition to mark the centenary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition, successfully making the pole as planned.

While critics claim the Norwegians were foolhardy, unprepared, and breaking numerous Antarctic treaties to ride motorcycles to the south pole… I can’t help but feel the clamour of boredom, bureaucracy and armchair criticism over all of this as anything but noise and tiresome commentary. While the disappearance of the Berserk, Robert Skaane, Tom Gisle Bellika, and Leonard Banks is saddening, and most of all, awful for their families, Jarle Andhøy and his merry pirates are a bastion of light in a world full of tedious and heavily sponsored expeditioning, ’cause’ adventures, and everything else that comes along with it… These guys were the real deal, and I think every one of us feels a tinge of envy when we see their lives of madness and freedom – They took a risk, and very unfortunately things went wrong, while experiencing the most inhospitable, beautiful, remote and dangerous place in the world… I believe their ‘failure’ is nothing short of exemplary, courageous, and full of imagination and wonder.

While the official search has been called off, I must admit to still feeling a glimmer of hope in their reappearance… So many things can happen at sea…

‎”When compared to alternatives, what sadness is found in a life truly lived? Hide all ye bastards struck down by fear of living that death has found ye still alive, lest you spoil the goodness in others that is the courage required to whet the appetite of dreams with reality.” -Anon (Care of Bobby).


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7 comment(s) so far...


Re: SV Berserk & Crew

I agree fully with these sentiments. But at the same time, this is just the sort of publicity that adventurers should avoid. Because the crew were so dismissive of Norwegian warnings (and of established international treaties specifying the use of Antarctica for scientific means), then it's hardly surprising that reactions have been 'I told you so'.

By Pepperberry on   3/2/2011 3:08 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

There are always a million reasons not to do a thing. Sometimes they are laws. These guys definitely scoffed at all maritime recommendations and treaties when it came to Antarctica. That said, the captain was used to that environment. Maybe they should have tried for permits for the ATVs, but how else is an unfunded private explorer going to make that journey? I've personally broken many rules and regulations for customs and immigration along my route and I am happy I've done so every time. Sometimes going outside the societal rules and regulations is just a part of a voyage like this.

There will always be those who are first to say, "I told you so" on the failure of any great failed challenge. I've typically found those individuals to be the ones who've challenged themselves very little.

I am curious how others think on this topic?

By Lee on   3/2/2011 3:47 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

While I agree that there is too little dreaming and adventuring done today, too often people take on challenges that they are unprepared for. I do not know if that was the case this time or not.
With today's technology and today's navies willing to swoop in and rescue the unfortunate, we should be careful when we compare today's adventurers with those of yesteryear. There is little of the adventure of Slocum's voyage in the round the world sailors of today. When we have airliners searching the ocean for a little girl who should never have been out in the southern ocean in the winter in the first place, we are right to question the preparations and motivations of those who may need rescuing.
As far as the comparison of bypassing a customs formality versus illegally motorcycling across the Antarctic wilderness , the first hurts no one whereas the second could affect scientific studies yet to be commissioned.
To stretch an analogy, it is one thing to "forget" to check out of the Galapagos and quite another to make tortoise soup.

By Marcus on   3/2/2011 4:38 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

Thanks Lee

I think the odd adventurer stepping foot on Antarctic soil is so rare (hindered by its innate difficulty in reaching the place), that I really, truly believe that ridiculous environmental arguments are scraping the bucket of reasons why their voyage was bad/failed/foolhardy. Spend five minutes looking at Google images on the destruction undertaken at McMurdo station in the name of science and research, for example... The enormous earth moving machines, ATV buses, diesel generators, nuclear powered ice breakers, prop plane access... Etc.

I highly doubt there is a shred of evidence suggesting that two small ATVs traveling across the Antarctic wilderness have any tangible effect on anything other than the feathers of bureaucracy.

By Nick on   3/2/2011 5:38 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

Inspiration is the source of creativity.If one does not have the courage to go beyond the limits society sets then new and wonderful discoveries would cease to evolve.These sailors had the courage to go for it give them credit.Having courage to follow your own instincts is often the way to lead others to success. Lives have been lost since the beginning of time because some choose to follow their dreams . Thank God we do have the ability to pursue our dreams some never allow themselves the opportunity.ATTITUDE IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPPORTUNITYAND OBSTACLE,SUCCESS AND DEFEAT. To all my fellow sailors who dare to follow your dreams it is better to have died doing something you loved that to loose your life by a senseless act.

By Patricia on   3/3/2011 12:50 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

Pepperberry and Marcus are VERY wise!

By Sandra on   3/11/2011 12:35 PM

Re: SV Berserk & Crew

Jarle and his fine crew are not dreamers, but doers. They live their lives to the fullest. I read his first book years ago on one of my first trans-Atlantic crossing and I was besotted with his love affair with life upon the sea. When they showed up in my front yard in Auckland, NZ I was filled with excitement that they were still out there, inhaling life and it's finest adventures. Upon meeting I was once again overcome with their enthusiasm for life! It is contagious! That type of passion is what makes dreamers doers. Hundreds of years ago people were called "explorers" and now they are labeled "foolish". Yes, when they left Auckland, Beserk was loaded to the hilt. But, when the storm hit, the majority of the load had been removed, according to Jarle. It basically comes down to that this tempest storm was larger than life. Wrong place, wrong time. Happens everyday. It's called chance and we all tempt her everyday. Especially when you live upon the sea. Mother Nature is all knowing, all powerful. Raise your glass, look out to sea and believe.

By Mich on   3/12/2011 4:17 PM

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