Norwegians return to CamBay to study frozen Maud
"The whole scenery draws us into the feeling of being back in time when the ship was drifting in the icepack for several years"
Jan Wanggaard, the manager of the “Maud Returns Home” project, is back in Cambridge Bay this week to continue scoping out the sunken hulk of the Maud, along with a film crew.
That’s the ship once sailed by the famous Norwegian polar hero Roald Amundsen, which Wanggaard and his backers plan to bring back to Norway from Nunavut in 2013.
Waanggaard and the filmmakers documenting the ship’s move to Norway last visited Cambridge Bay in August, when temperatures were still warm and the days long.
Now they’re experiencing below zero temperatures and short periods of light.
“It’s cold here but so incredibly beautiful. The polar night is light and bright. The moon is growing, the snow is brilliant white and the sky is blue and pink and rad, and we are enjoying a surreal experience surrounding the Maud with our doings,” Wanggaard, a former windsurfing world champion turned artist and project promoter, said on the Maud Returns Home website.
“After two summers of surveying and documenting the old ship, it feels really good to be here now when the whole scenery draws us into the feeling of being back in time when the ship was drifting in the icepack for several years.”
Wanggaard said it seemed “incredible” that the ship, which has spent more than 80 years submerged in the waters off Cambridge Bay, has withstood the forces of the ice during all these years without being ripped apart.
Amundsen, the first European adventurer to travel the Northwest Passage in 1906 and the first person to reach the South Pole in December 1911, left Norway in 1918 with the Maud, planning to drift with the ice across the Northeast Passage westwards and over the North Pole.
But his crew never got into the westward current, although the expedition did produce some excellent scientific results — mostly after Amundsen had given up and left the ship.
Creditors sold the Maud in 1925 to the Hudson Bay Co., which renamed it the Baymaud. The ship ended its days as a floating warehouse and radio station, and sank at its mooring in 1930.
The goals of the Norwegians now is to document the ship over and under the ice, in the cold and the dark.
“We have already prepared a tent on the ice with a dive hole inside for access under the ice to document the old ship in her true element. That is going to be exciting,” Wanggaard said he said in an email.
“Ice and oak” is the working title for the Norwegians’ trip to Cambridge Bay.
The oak used to build the Maud seems to be in prime condition and made to withstand cold temperatures, Wanggaard said.
The Norwegians still plan to move Maud back to Norway next summer by barge and erect a “House of Maud” museum around the ship.
“This is what this ship and her incredible expedition history deserves,” he said.
“Just to be here now in the winter — with temperatures around minus 30 celsius — makes me me feel much closer to the ship and its history than ever before during our two earlier summer surveys we have had the two last years. This is an impression we wish to bring with us and keep strongly in mind when approaching the challenge of presenting the ship and its history back in Vollen and Norway in the years to come,” he said in an email.