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Skipper abandons search for Berserk

Norway’s rogue polar adventurer Jarle Andhoy made another unauthorized voyage to Antarctica, this time on a 52-foot, steel-hulled sailboat named Nilaya, to look for remains of his missing sailboat Berserk, which was lost with three of his crewmembers in a massive storm a year earlier in the desolate Ross Sea.

Jarle Andhoy's steel-hulled 48-footer Berserk was lost in a storm last year in the Antarctic.

Talking via satellite phone, Andhoy advised his attorney, Nils Jorgen Vordahl, that he had given up the search for the missing sailboat, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported Feb. 24. The newspaper said the crew aboard Nilaya attempted to trace the known movements of the 48-foot Berserk after it dropped Andhoy and Samuel Massie on the Ross Ice Shelf to make their way to the South Pole on all-terrain vehicles. Berserk’s last known position was 18 nautical miles north of Scott Base in the Ross Sea, where at about 5 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2011, its EPIRB activated in a fierce late-summer blizzard.

Andhoy, Massie and a third crewmember, Maori political activist Busby Noble, who reportedly was aboard Nilaya as an unwitting stowaway, held a memorial service over the spot where Berserk’s EPIRB activated, Vordahl told the newspaper. Noble reportedly had been asleep below aboard Nilaya after doing repairs when Andhoy hastily departed New Zealand under a deportation order related to his plans to make this illegal trip to Antarctica.
After the loss of Berserk, Norwegian authorities fined Andhoy $4,500 for violating rules designed to protect the Antarctic wilderness and those who explore it. Andhoy and his “Wild Viking” crews have run afoul of authorities several times on polar expeditions for flouting regulations.
“The problem … with Jarle Andhoy is very simple — he doesn’t care who he hurts in order to promote himself and his ‘Wild Vikings’ venture,” adventurer Gareth Morgan wrote in his blog. Morgan is aboard the 236-foot icebreaker Spirit of Enderby, which is on an expedition to Antarctica to raise New Zealanders’ awareness of the region. “His core values include thumbing his nose at authority no matter how well-intentioned rules are and professing a selective self-reliance.”
Vordahl says the crew aboard Nilaya couldn’t return to New Zealand because Andhoy is persona non grata there, so the boat was en route to South America to try to get Noble a proper passport. He says Andhoy expects to return eventually to Norway “to meet his critics.”
Andhoy told Vordahl that one reason for the search was that he doubted Berserk had capsized and sank. He says he removed
5 tons of equipment from the boat before he and Massie began their trek to the South Pole — an undertaking that was cut short when Berserk was lost. He also notes that neither he on this voyage nor searchers a year earlier found any fuel or debris other than an empty life raft, an oar and small bags of emergency drinking water.
Andhoy thought Berserk’s crew might have sought shelter in a remote anchorage, where their EPIRB, which transmitted for just 45 minutes, and other communications gear failed them. “He has only one focus, and that is to do everything in his power to help find the boat,” Vordahl told the Norwegian newspaper. Andhoy found no sign of Berserk on this return voyage.
New Zealand press reports say Andhoy had suggested that the New Zealand naval vessel Wellington, which contacted Berserk before the storm, had ordered it out of a safe anchorage, which New Zealand authorities have vigorously denied.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.