Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s sturdy oak ship Maud was made to withstand Arctic winters but sank off the coast of Cambridge Bay, in northern Canada’s remote Victoria Island in 1930. 87 years later she is ready to sail back home to Norway.
“It is not my intention to dishonor the glorious grape, but already now you shall get the taste of your real environment. For the ice you have been built, and in the ice you shall stay most of your life, and in the ice you shall solve your tasks. With the permission of our Queen, I christen you Maud,” said Roald Amundsen when he ceremonially christened the vessel in 1917, crushing a chunk of ice against her bow.
Maud was built for his second expedition to the Arctic through the Northeast Passage and named Maud after Norway’s then-queen. Amundsen’s original plan was to sail through the unexplored part of the Arctic Ocean, and perhaps drift over to the North Pole. After two failed attempts, he abandoned his plan to go to the North Pole, and after seven years of exploring the Arctic, Maud was seized by Amundsen’s creditors and sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1925.
For years Norwegian project manager Jan Wanggaard and his team has worked with the “Maud Returns Home” project. Last summer they used giant “balloons” to raise the wreck and then slipped a barge under it. Over the winter they let it dry and then followed considerable repatriation efforts.
Although the Maud’s exploits aren’t widely known today, the expedition was quite eventful for Amundsen. He was nearly mauled to death by a polar bear and poisoned by carbon monoxide. However, it resulted in heaps of scientific data on the Arctic environment.
Joe Ohokannoak, deputy mayor of Cambridge Bay and an amateur historian who enjoys studying Arctic history, says Maud certainly is a part of their history. “It was an attraction for cruise ships coming in, sail boaters, and just regular visitors to Cambridge Bay, especially the last year when it was totally out of the water on pontoons,” he says. For decades, parts of her hull protruded above the waters.
Amundsen was the first man to reach the South Pole, including the first successful transit in the Northwest Passage.
Maud will spend this winter in Greenland after heading east, back through the Northwest
Passage, before going on its final destination to Norway.
“The Maid is now ready for the next step, which is to sail home,” said Wanggaard.
Welcome Back to Norway, Maud! Written by Tor Kjolberg