It is with great disappointment that the search for famed sailing vessel SV Berserk has officially been called off, as of March 1st, 10pm, by Maritime NZ. Captained by Jarle Andhøy, skipper of multiple wild voyages in polar regions, Berserk went missing while Andhøy and Samuel Massie were attempting to reach the south pole on ATV's, leaving a crew of three onboard in their absence. During Andhøy & Massie's expedition south, the Berserk beacon was briefly detected, before going dark... The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, HMNZS Wellington, and Professor Khromov, all spent a combined total of 141 hours searching for the stricken vessel, covering 25,600km2 of water, and finding nothing but an empty liferaft and no further communications from Berserk.
The voyages of the Berserk are legendary... And worthy of remembering as part of the greatest expeditions in sailing history upon small boats. Unfortunately the Sunday Star Times (NZ) wrote the voyage off as a “foolhardy voyage to Antarctica by a group of self-proclaimed Vikings... Which has cost three lives while forcing a New Zealand navy ship and 55 of its crew into savage seas, damaging the new vessel”...
With two ATVs perilously strapped to the deck of the relatively small 48ft steel vessel, Berserk went deep south into Antarctica against Norwegian Polar Institute guidelines, which 'prohibited' them from going beyond 60 degrees south. Captain Jarle Andhøy retorted with “we don’t need permission to sail down there.” ... And continued the expedition to mark the centenary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition, successfully making the pole as planned.
While critics claim the Norwegians were foolhardy, unprepared, and breaking numerous Antarctic treaties to ride motorcycles to the south pole... I can't help but feel the clamour of boredom, bureaucracy and armchair criticism over all of this as anything but noise and tiresome commentary. While the disappearance of the Berserk, Robert Skaane, Tom Gisle Bellika, and Leonard Banks is saddening, and most of all, awful for their families, Jarle Andhøy and his merry pirates are a bastion of light in a world full of tedious and heavily sponsored expeditioning, 'cause' adventures, and everything else that comes along with it... These guys were the real deal, and I think every one of us feels a tinge of envy when we see their lives of madness and freedom - They took a risk, and very unfortunately things went wrong, while experiencing the most inhospitable, beautiful, remote and dangerous place in the world... I believe their 'failure' is nothing short of exemplary, courageous, and full of imagination and wonder.
While the official search has been called off, I must admit to still feeling a glimmer of hope in their reappearance... So many things can happen at sea...
"When compared to alternatives, what sadness is found in a life truly lived? Hide all ye bastards struck down by fear of living that death has found ye still alive, lest you spoil the goodness in others that is the courage required to whet the appetite of dreams with reality." -Anon (Care of Bobby).