Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Missing yacht in Antarctica
By Jon Amtrup
The Norwegian yacht Berserk, skippered by Jarle Andøy, is missing in Antarctica after hurricane winds swept the area. The distress beacon has stopped transmitting. Sea Sheperds' Steve Irwin is among the ships reportedly on the way to search for Berserk outside the Scott base area. 

The cruising season in Antarctica is over for most yachts, and all ships in the area risk to get stuck in ice at this time of the year. Tuesday morning the distress beacon on the steel yacht Berserk was set of 18 nautical miles north of Scott base in Antarctica. It was blowing 80 knots plus in the area at the time, and the air temperature was 11 degrees Celsius below. Waves were 8 meters with a lot of ice bits and bergs drifting around. 

The information on who and how many are on board is not confirmed, but it seems three people were on board when the distress beacon went off, and two on shore making an attempt to reach the South Pole. Both parties are reported to have satellite phone, but neither could be reached by rescue services. 

HMNZS Wellington was asked to head south to Berserk's last position on Tuesday. It reached the position at around 3.00am, but could find no trace of the yacht. 

RCCNZ spokesman Ross Henderson said they were liaising with bases in Antarctic about sending an aircraft to join the search when the weather eased, and Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and Russian ship Professor Kromov has also been employed in the search. They are expected to reach the area in 12 hours. 

Conditions have improved over the last hours. Early reports indicate that Berserk was headed for shelter before the hurricane hit. 

About charter yacht Berserk
Skipper Jarle Andøy has been to Antarctica before, then in a 27-foot sailing boat. He makes TV shows and writes books about his trips.

A high profile sailor in Norway, Andøy 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 Andøy and flew him back home to Norway. 

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