Ice causing more problems for global adventurer Adrian Flanagan as he attempts to set new record 10/9/07

Adrian Flanagan’s global record attempt aboard the 11m steel yacht Barrabas, currently hampered by thick ice blocking the way in Russia in the Arctic phase of the Alpha Global Expedition, is looking doubtful once again.

On Saturday a new situation developed which showed there was a possibility Flanagan could still make it through with the help of an icebreaker. But drift ice en-route to the rendezvous point with icebreaker (Taymyr) is causing further problems.

The idea was to meet the Taymyr just south of Bukhta Pronchishcheva and break a path through this thin line of ice. The ice breaker could then go along this inshore channel with Flanagan following. The route would go to the east of Ostrov Kleshnya and Ostrov Severnyy as far as Ostrov Koshka (76.46 N 111.06 E) – a total distance of 100-110 miles. Flanagan hoped that if the ice breaker then veered north at Ostrov Koshka, it would bring him into open water in the south-eastern part of the Vilkitskiy Strait and he could proceed from that point on his own.

It all looked good for a while yesterday with Flanagan leaving his anchorage at Ostrov Preobrazheniya in the morning and enjoying a decent sail in south-easterly breeze but the situation changed shortly afterwards. Commenting, Flanagan said: “I made good progress, averaging 6 knots. At six o’clock in the evening, I came on deck to check for drift ice. It had been a major concern. Recent satellite images had clearly shown large tracts of drift south of the RV position. I had just narrowly missed colliding with an isolated piece of ice which was now bobbing in my wake 50 yards astern! More to my surprise was a small ship, passing westwards across my bow at 200 yards. Astern of the lead were two similar vessels

“The light was fading fast. With 40 miles still to travel to the RV and having no idea of the depth of the drift ice northwards, I decided that it would unsafe to venture further I hove-to as near darkness descended.”

The latest news from the boat this morning confirms that the chances of Flanagan getting through now are looking fairly slim. Commenting on the latest situation this morning Flanagan continued: “I have just come to thick drift ice 40 miles south-west of the rendezvous. The drift ice extends across the horizon. My thinking is that there will be more drift ice further north. Also, the light is going dim. I have taken the decision that it would be too dangerous to proceed into ice in semi-darkness. Also, I see from the latest weather forecast that winds in the north sector are expected for the next three days.

“The problem is that I do not have any idea how dense or how extensive drift ice may be between my position and the rendezvous location. With the change in the winds from the north, I suspect the master of the icebreaker is more likely not to proceed with the caravan. Therefore, with regret, taking these factors into account, my decision is to stay where I am and tomorrow to head for Tiksi to meet the cargo vessel which can transport the yacht.”

Flanagan is expected to make contact with the Captain of the icebreaker later today where a decision on the progress will be made.