Adrian sets sail for Chukotka and beyond

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Adrian Flanagan setting out from Nome last night on the last stage of his historic voyage

Last night at 14.30 Alaska time, 11.30pm UK time, Adrian Flanagan slipped his moorings from the Port of Nome and set sail for Chukotka, Russia. It is here in the north-eastern settlement town of Provideniya that his yacht Barrabas will be inspected prior to completing his attempt to sail the first ever single-handed vertical circumnavigation of the globe via the Russian Arctic.

In May 2006, the Alpha-Global Expedition contacted Roman Abramovich, governor of the Russian Far East region of Chukotka where the Northern Sea Route (NSR) begins, for much needed assistance in receiving the required permits for Adrian to travel along the NSR. Governor Abramovich generously agreed to help and representatives of his administration were in the process of trying to obtain those permits when circumstances required that the Expedition be put on hold for the winter.

Over the past few months, in preparation for the restart, those efforts were renewed and Governor Abramovich’s administration provided invaluable assistance in obtaining the necessary documents from the Transport Ministry’s Northern Sea Route Administration as well as the national and local divisions of the Federal Security Service.

Adrian’s account of his departure:

I finally got away from Nome at 1430 local time, three weeks to the day and almost to the hour since I arrived back in Alaska to prepare for the Arctic Phase. I had allocated myself exactly that, three weeks, to prepare. I could have got going sooner but the time was as much for mental preparation as for the various jobs and procedures that Barrabas needed done.

Winds are light and out of the west. The next three days look to be similarly fair. Provideniya is 200 miles across the northern part of the Bering Sea so I expect to make port sometime on Friday. However, I will be crossing the International Date Line so will warp forward 24 hours. It will be Saturday local in Provideniya, which gives me Sunday to rest from this first stage.

Barrabas and I need to become reacquainted. This short crossing should see to that. I was naturally anxious when I slipped my lines in Nome Harbour. The Crowley team saw me off and Joy Baker, the Harbour Master (is there such a thing as a Harbour Mistress?). I spoke at length with Louise on the eve of departure and I told her that part of the mental tuning is to stay in the moment – not to project back and certainly not forward. It’s a technique that works well for me and does much to still the worry that would otherwise be tugging uncomfortably.

A slight hiccup at the outset was the unwelcome discovery that the ship’s main GPS unit was not working. The instruments are wired into this so I was getting no display. I went to a handheld GPS back-up, then traced the problem to a section of cabling in the dark recesses of the lazarette. The protective sheathing had been breached and corrosion broken the core connection. I cut, cleaned, spliced and soldered, tried the unit and bingo, we picked up six satellites and Barrabas and I were back in business. I followed this with a meal of fried eggs, Malinda’s ‘historic’ fried bread, salami and wild Alaskan blueberries.

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Roman Abramovich

As I make my way towards Russia with the reassurance of having all the requisite permissions to hand, I have Roman Abramovich to thank. As Governor of Chukotka Province, Mr Abramovich has allowed his head of communications in Moscow, John Mann to act as liaison between the Alpha Global Expedition and the various ministries and departments of the Russian administration. For this I owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

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