Captain Birger J. Vorland and Vice President of Land Programs John Stoll have each traveled to the ends of the earth throughout their respective careers in global exploration. You might think it’s impossible to wow them at this point. However, when these two Crystal explorers headed to the Arctic north this month to scout new experiences for the 2017 Northwest Passage voyage, they were both awed by the profound history of this vast and remote region. Today, they share “part 2” of their reconnaissance trip – this time in Cambridge Bay – and the story of the ‘Maud’ that continues to captivate them and many other travelers throughout the world.
CAPTAIN BIRGER J. VORLAND
Most of my photos from our visit to Cambridge Bay center on famed Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s fated ship, the “Maud,” which will likely surprise no one. It is not only us Norwegian seamen who continue to marvel at the story of this ship’s history, but history buffs of all kinds. Since our first voyage to the region last year, she has been raised to shore, and we are hopeful to see her this year before she returns home to Norway.
The Maud was lifted from the bottom of what is now Cambridge Bay after resting there for more than 80 years. The ship was not sunken on Amundsen’s watch, but rather, under the supervision of the Hudson Bay Company, who purchased the Maud from Amundsen after he’d gone bankrupt from his travels.
Late last year, she was brought to the surface by a dedicated team of Norwegians and gigantic airbags assisting her rise; and will be returned to Norway this year for exhibition and painstaking restoration. The sturdy oak vessel, originally named for Norway’s Queen Maud, had a more rugged fate than Amundsen’s other polar exploration vessels. The “Fram” and the “Gjøa” are preserved at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, in contrast to the Maud’s decades submerged in the icy waters of the Arctic.
Her fateful end came after seven years of pioneering the Arctic following her trip from Oslo, along the Russian coastline to Nome, Alaska, and then through the Northeast Passage. In a twist somewhat unworthy of her eventful career, it was a leak caused by the propeller axle that sunk the Maud in 1930. Regardless of her untimely end, Maud played an integral role in Amundsen’s polar discoveries, which included polar bear encounters, carbon monoxide scares, and prolific amounts of scientific data about this elusive region.
You know, it’s funny. I remember Birger explaining the Maud’s story to us as we stood on the frozen lake. I was hanging on his every word and was impressed with his vast knowledge of the subject, until I realized I couldn’t feel my nose any longer, and it was time to trek back to the warmth of our hotel!
Crystal Serenity sails the Northwest Passage again this August, following in the pioneering steps of Roald Amundsen. Book your journey today.