Antarctica: Empty raft found, still no Berserk

Posted: Feb 25, 2011 08:16 am EST

(By Jon Amtrup) Berserks life raft has been found, but still no sign of the three people aboard the Norwegian sailing yacht. The raft was pretty beat up. Sea Shepherd searched the whole area and are convinced that there are no survivors. The skipper and one of the crew are racing towards the coast in two ATV's.

The life raft was discovered 45 miles north of the position where the distress signal was issued and is consistent with the drift and wind.

- The life raft was unoccupied, half filled with water, encrusted with ice and the canopy had been clearly torn half off by strong winds. Sea conditions at the time of the recovery were ideal glassy waters, no swell, clear skies, and excellent visibility, writes Sea Shepherd in a press release. The Steve Irwin has searched the area for 24 hours with dinghy's, helicopter and the ship. Captain Paul Watson is convinced that the three people on board the Berserk are lost at sea sea and the recovery of their bodies is very unlikely.

- All indications are that Berserk has sunk and that it sank very quickly. The conditions at the time were extremely high winds, extremely low temperatures, very heavy seas, and numerous and very dangerous growlers, says Watson on their homepage.

No other debris from the missing yacht has been found which could be a good sign for the crew. The raft could have been ripped off the boat during the bad weather and deployed in the water.

The three missing are two Norwegians Robert Skaanes (34), and Tom Gisle Bellika (36), and South-African Leonard J. Banks (32).

The Steve Irwin will continue the search Friday but thats it. They are the only ship searching the area.
Meanwhile Berserk skipper Jarle Andhøy (33) and his crew Samuel Massie (18) are racing towards the McMurdo base on two belt driven ATVs (All Terrain Vehicle).

The purpose of the expedition was according to Andhøy: "Berserk is under sail towards the South Pole to reconquer the pole 100 years after Roald Amundsen. The expedition started in fall 2009 from the top of the world (Northwest Passage ed.) and will be completed at the bottom by the Pizzageneration that are crewing the Berserk. The Berserk crew will try to follow in the footsteps of those who built Norway; war sailors, whale hunters and polar explorers. They all grew up in a much harder reality than our generation is living in today."

Jarle Andhøy and crew sailed down the west coast of America and over to New Zealand before setting off to the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Once there they reassembled the two belt driven ATVs they had stored on board during the crossing. The plan was that Andhøy and Massie should drive to the South Pole, but they didnt get far before the news about the missing Berserk reached them.

About charter yacht Berserk
Skipper Jarle Andhøy has been to Antarctica before, then in a 27-foot sailing boat. A high profile sailor in Norway, Andhøy has appeared on several TV shows and in the news. He was fined and sentenced in Norway for trying to talk to the Polar Bears on Svalbard.

Accused of smuggling a crew member who had been sent out of the country on charges of being a Hells Angel, on his last trip through the Northwest Passage Canadian authorities cuffed Jarle Andhøy and flew him back home to Norway.

#Polar #Oceans #topstory

There is little to no chances of finding the three missing sailors on Berserk.
courtesy Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd found the Berserk life raft badly damaged.
courtesy Sea Shepherd