26 Jan 2012

Norwegian may be heading for South Pole again

6:10 am on 26 January 2012

A search is underway for a Norwegian adventurer thought to be heading for the Antarctic by yacht to make an unauthorised second attempt to reach the South Pole.

Jarle Andhoy, 34, made the journey to Antarctica in February 2011 with another Norwegian, Samuel Massey, 18, to attempt to reach the South Pole by quad bike, emulating Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.

However, Mr Andhoy did so without the right permits and the Norwegians say he does not have the correct permits this time either.

The 2011 journey was aborted when Mr Adhoy's yacht, Berserk sank in McMurdo Sound with the loss of three crew members, sparking a massive search and rescue mission but, after an extensive search, only a lifeboat was found.

It is believed Mr Andhoy set sail on the yacht Nilaya from Auckland on Monday and that he may make another attempt on the South Pole.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it notified its concerns about Mr Andhoy's plans to its New Zealand counterpart earlier in January and there have been top-level contacts between the two since then.

In Wellington, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed he arrived in New Zealand earlier this month and failed to declare he had been previously deported from Canada.

MFAT says it has serious concerns, particularly as the Southern Ocean is one of the most remote and inhospitable areas in the world.

It says government agencies are obviously concerned about any possibility of an incident such as last year's sinking of Berserk in the Ross Sea.

The Customs Service has a plane out looking for the yacht Nilaya.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has alerted its operators, in case they see the vessel, but executive director Steve Wellmeier says it will be difficult to stop Mr Andhoy if he is determined to retrace Amundsen's steps.

In addition, the season is almost over in the Ross Sea as poor weather closes in.

Mr Andhoy is a well known Norwegian adventurer who has made several Arctic and Antarctic voyages.

With no way off the Antarctic continent after his boat disappeared last year, he and Mr Massie had to make a 20-hour dash to Scott Base to catch the last flight out for the summer. They reached Christchurch on 28 February.