Last-minute visa hopes could allow Adrian Flanagan to continue global voyage 5/9/06

Adrian Flanagan is still hoping a last minute plan to enter Russia will enable him to continue his north-south global record attempt aboard his 11m stainless steel sloop Barrabas.

Flanagan who set sail from Falmouth last October is now in Alaska but faces visa problems for his entry into Russia.

Speaking from the boat yesterday however, Flanagan believes that through a friend with contacts among the Russian Administration a visa could be supplied by the end of the week and he could be under sail again by early next week.

Flanagan commented: “I intended to make my decision last Friday about whether to continue passage this year or instead to postpone the Arctic phase until next summer. A late development has meant deferring that decision until the end of this week.

“A friend and senior figure in the UK business community with high level contacts among the Russian Administration and who has been liaising with Russian authorities on behalf of the Alpha Global Expedition, has prised a narrow opening though which I might yet slip in my quest to achieve the first single-handed vertical circumnavigation.

“Senior personnel at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC suggest that if the Russian Ministry of Transport were to agree to act as my ‘sponsor’, then appropriate permissions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) could be quickly generated and the Embassy itself able to issue the visa immediately on receipt of these permissions.

“Northern Sea Route Administration falls within the remit of the Ministry of Transport and could thus either agree to sponsor me or seek approval from higher authority within the ministry to do so.

“I have therefore asked my liaison in Moscow to put this to Nikolai Monko who heads Northern Sea Route Administration. This can be done Tuesday 5 September [today].

“If the Ministry of Transport agrees to my request, I could have my passport and visa returned by the end of the week. Then, I would have to travel to Provideniya on Siberia’s eastern coast, some 200 miles distance for a mandatory boat inspection. If the inspection were carried out promptly, I could be away on Tuesday 12 September.

“Ice melt and recede patterns are very similar to last year. In 2005, the ice continued to move off until 22 September and held stable for a further 10 days before patches of new ice began to form close inshore. “To get past Proliv Vil’kitskogo, some 1,000 miles from Provideniya, I would need between 10 to 14 days. If ice edge positions remain consistent, I could be on station at Proliv Vil’kitskogo at or close to the time of extreme minimum ice.

“There is still a chance to get through this year, providing the ice remains stable. I can only talk to the Russian authorities. It is now for them to decide.”