Saturday 20 September 2014

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ICE #Excerpt by @TheobaldSprague #Climate #Divorce #Adventure

One of the main objectives for the trip and documentary was to come away with a fairly precise understanding as to the state of environmental affairs. I’m sorry to say that in this I failed. But I have an excuse. The heft of Mother Nature’s intentions was introduced to us far sooner and to a much larger degree than ever anticipated and became a very large part of our daily lives. By the time we got to The Passage, the scope and aim of the trip was simply to finish in one piece. The time planned for interviews and casual observations had turned into a race against the seasonal clock and we had to be satisfied with the few interviews that we got. Quickly the story of the trip changed focus from overview and observation to not getting hampered by the elements.
To have missed some planned interviews and time spent among the various communities in exchange for surviving the ordeal was fine with me. There’s a saying that in the 1800s, those hearty souls who took a stagecoach journey across the United States started off with great excitement and anticipation of all that they would see and encounter. By the end, they were just happy to reach their destinations alive. Never was it as true as with our trip to and through the Northwest Passage that summer.
The second area I wanted to investigate and learn from was the potential of commercial shipping through The Passage. What I learned from those I interviewed was more focused and defined compared to their beliefs on global warming. While some small commercial shipping does currently exist and some more will certainly start up, all of whom I spoke with felt that the large-scale supertanker-type of shipping would never happen.
I was told that when the area is frozen, perhaps more than three-quarters of the year, it provides not only migratory routes but ice roads as well. To one extent or another, all of the communities from the smallest fishing camps to larger ones like Cambridge Bay depend on these ice roads in and out of their area. Any interest in larger commercial shipping would meet great resistance.
The Northwest Passage is, for the most part, an uncharted area. When we were able to take soundings in some locations, the bottom would be ten- feet deep, then drop to perhaps a hundred feet, then come back up again to ten feet, all in the stretch of perhaps a quarter-mile.
It’s my feeling—as well as that of many of those who live in the Nunavut Territories—that if commercial concerns want to use this shortcut between the two major oceans, there would have to be extensive surveying and dredging to accommodate their needs, perhaps negating some of the immediate profits to be found. In dealing with the ice, shipping will find it to be completely unpredictable and each year it would present its own grave challenges.
Without the promises of immediate profits, I don’t see these concerns to have a large concentration span. Again, these are just my thoughts based on observations by the few who live up there and are by no means steeped in feasibility studies and corporate research.
One area that doesn’t seem to grab the headlines as much as global warming or potential shipping, but to me holds a far more frightening potential for disaster, is that of the natural resources to be found in and around The Passage.
The exploration of lucrative natural resources just under the surface is something that I feel could destroy one of the most delicate and pristine ecosystems on our planet. There are five Arctic powers vying for dominance: Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States. Unlike Antarctica, there is very little paperwork in place delineating which nation has what claim to which area. Far too complex to try to break down in this writing, suffice it to say it’s a bit like the Old West, all trying to stake a claim via interpreting antiquated laws and rulings to their benefit.
A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.

What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

(TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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