Without whom…………


Rick Kostiew (left), with Adrian in Nome, Alaska

The person who points up an expedition is the one who is best known, best remembered. That’s fair because the person at the front is taking the big personal risks, but its only part of the story. Behind that person there is almost always a group of people without whom the expedition would not have succeeded.

One of the remarkable things about the Alpha Global Expedition is that it has no large support team, lavishly funded by major corporations. Adrian has taken the hazardous risks at sea, Louise has taught herself expedition management and co-ordinated all of the efforts that have helped Adrian sail on towards his goal, and then there is a group of people who have volunteered to provide vital assistance at critical stages, selflessly, motivated by a desire to help an ordinary man achieve something truly extraordinary. It is perhaps the most moving aspect of this great endeavour.

Today, is an opportunity to recognize Rick Kostiew. At Honolulu, at Nome, and at Provideniya, Adrian met complete strangers who became friends and who contributed generously of their time and skills to help him on his way.

When he arrived in Nome in 2006, Adrian was trying to beat the clock. He knew that every day lost repairing the cutless bearing was potentially a day closer to failure. As it turned out, the combination of ice conditions and the acquisition of the necessary Russian permissions required him to make the decision to suspend the voyage in the interests of safety. That decision was all the harder because the help of all those he met in Nome had made it possible to effect repairs in record time. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the NSR iced up early at a point that Adrian would have reached had he left Nome immediately repairs were completed. That could so easily have resulted in Barrabas being trapped in the ice and crushed.

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Part-buried, Barrabas survived the Arctic winter without damage

Crowley Marine Services had been a huge help and particularly Rick Kostiew. Barrabas, as a keel boat, was unlike the vessels normally using the Port of Nome and she could not be left in the water through the Arctic winter. Adrian and Rick devised a solution that worked completely. A special trench was dug and lined with old tyres, so that Barrabas could sit hull down against the cruel winds of winter.

Through the winter Rick and his colleagues kept an eye on Barrabas until Adrian could return this summer.

When Adrian returned, Rick’s unstinting support ensured that Barrabas was prepared for the final challenge, the Northern Sea Route.

Adrian and Rick had hoped to say their farewells as Barrabas pulled away from the quay on her great adventure. This was not to be. Rick had to leave for Anchorage to be with his wife who had undergone major back surgery before Adrian could set sail.

Rick Kostiew is one of the small band of people to whom Adrian owes a real debt and who offered friendship that he so greatfully accepted.



In Syria – Circumnavigation Completion Date now Fixed


Expedition360 should be completing its horizontal circumnavigation shortly after Adrian brings Barrabas back to the UK after his historic vertical circumnavigation.

Jason reports on the X360 completion date:

“…………..we are now able to officially publicize the COMPLETION DATE of Expedition 360 – Saturday October 6th this year. After riding through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Germany to Belgium the final crossing of the channel in pedal boat Moksha will be completed over 3-days from 2nd-4th October (weather dependent as always). The arrival at the Greenwich Rowing Club slipway will be at 10.30 am at high tide slack water on the 6th. After lifting her out onto a mobile trolley a group of close expedition team members and supporters will push her up the hill to the Royal Observatory for the final crossing of the zero degree line of longitude. This is represented by a strip of brass embedded in the cobblestones, the same that Steve and I crossed over on our outward bound journey 13-years ago.”




Adrian sets sail for Chukotka and beyond


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.


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.





Jason Lewis Sends Best Wishes


X360’s peddle-powered boat crossing the Indian Ocean

Adrian and Alpha Global, please accept best wishes from me and all the X360 team for your final leg in an historic first vertical circumnavigation.

In particular you are taking a correct and noble path in pursuing a true circumnavigation by employing the antipodal criteria. It’s great to see others out there reinstating this once highly revered prize.

My friend and colleague Erden Eruc, currently en route with his Around n Over human powered circumnavigation, is also a proponent of the antipodal requirement. I am sure he will join me in applauding Adrian’s initiative.

With kindest regards to you all,

Jason Lewis

Expedition 360 – a human powered circumnavigation






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Barrabas survived the winter without any problems

From Adrian in Nome

Nome is baking in the midst of a massive high pressure system which is funneling heat down onto this often frozen-over land. The global warming evangelista would probably have something to say. But for the purposes of sailing the Northern Sea Route, the more heat the better. Ice reflects solar radiation whereas sea water absorbs the heat, melting the ice which creates more open water areas to absorb more heat and so on.


In the background is Barrabas last year ready to be lifted out by the crane

Work on Barrabas has continued apace. The mast and rig are back on. Ric Kostiew used the American Independence Day holiday to help me out. First he welded the bases of the upper spreaders which were showing hairline fatigue cracking. Then, with a touch of hand at which I can only marvel, he picked up the 2-tonne mast with the ‘big’ crane and with me on deck to guide him, Ric lowered the mast into its slots on the first pass and with surgical precision – it was a staggering piece of skill.


Barrabas will soon be cramped as fuel cans and other supplies are loaded for the final leg of the circumnavigation

Talking with the local fisherman and gold miners, whose futuristic floating contraptions suck up sand from the seabed in the gamblers’ quest for gold, I learned of a 2-part underwater, rapid-setting cement called SplashZone. Why couldn’t I find it after nine months searching on the Internet? I’ve ordered 2 quarts from Homer, a commercial fishing port down the coast. Peace of mind comes in two tubs of epoxy in case I ding the ice and put a hole in Barrabas.

Tomorrow, Barrabas is lifted back into the water – I can sense the ‘race horse’ eagerness beginning to build in her.





Alpha Global Expedition


Adrian Flanagan – a Major Historical First

The Alpha Global Expedition is one man’s quest to achieve a vertical circumnavigation. This had never been attempted before. Previously all attempts to circumnavigate by sea from the voyage of Magellan and Drake have been horizontal West to East or East to West voyages. It is only in recent times that Slocum, Chichester, and Knox-Johnston have attempted single-handed voyages of horizontal circumnavigation in yachts. Very recently, horizontal circumnavigation has become almost commonplace with several very expensive racing yachts battling round against each other. Adrian started out from the United Kingdom in October 2005, rounded Cape Horn into the Pacific and headed North to the Bering Strait, prior to attempting the first non-stop single-handed voyage through the Russian Northern Sea Route to the Norwegian Sea and home to Britain.





Nome from Home


Since arrival in Nome, Adrian has been working round the clock to get Barrabas ready and tested.

On Saturday June 25 he emailed this report:

After some wrestling with US customs, my new radar, sponsored by Furuno will touch down in Nome this afternoon. The plan is to get the scanner mounted on the mast, the mast can then be stepped onto the boat and Barrabas lifted back into the water.

Yesterday, I bought a US sim card for my mobile and finally managed to have conversations with home without the attendant worries of phone cards running out of time. The heartening news was that my younger son, Gabriel, did himself proud at his school sports day, bagging a (small) handful of medals.

I closed my eyes and imagined sitting on the sunnied lawns of England this time next year
watching my son triumph in the egg and spoon race, with the Alpha Global Expedition safely consigned to the annals of my personal history.

But, I am ever mindful of the present. This morning was spent going over the engine – draining fuel from the bottom of the two tanks to get rid of the colloidal sediments which accumulate when diesel has been left to sit.

Oil, tramsmission fluids and coolants all went into various openings in the Lombardini engine – the heart of the boat and on which I will be completely reliant when negotiating the ice. Diesel engines will run reliably providing the injectors are being fed clean fuel.

On my various wanderings around the town to get stamps, money, food (and write blogs), I have seen many of the same faces occupying the same doorways as last time round.

Nome is a curious, frontier town. There is a high incidence of alcoholism among the local population and suicide rates during the dark, winter months are high. But, despite the social problems, Nome retains for me an almost beguiling charm.


Whilst Barrabas is warmed up and prepared for the final phase of the Alpha Global Expedition and I begin to hone my focus for the inevitable trials that lie ahead, there is one last preparation that I will make before casting my lines from Nome Harbour – breakfast at Fat Freddies, made famous by Michael Palin during one of his globe-trotting extravaganzas.

Grits, pancakes and eggs sunny side up – if that doesn’t keep me warm in the Russian ice, nothing will.