Stranded on Norwegian Island, Rowers End Their Arctic Mission

As conditions aboard the 30-foot boat deteriorated, the rowers abandoned their intended course and headed for Jan Mayen island instead. That small volcanic island is about halfway between Norway and Greenland.

“I’ve never been so wet and cold for so long,” Alex Gregory, a British rower and two-time Olympic gold medalist, wrote in an Instagram post on Aug. 17, two days before the crew reached land. “It’s seeping into my bones, there is absolutely no escape from it.”

On Monday, nine days after reaching Jan Mayen, the crew officially ended its journey.


Arriving at the Arctic ice shelf.

The Polar Row

“A successful expedition is also one where everyone goes home safe and in good health to their family and friends,” one of the rowers, Carlo Facchino, wrote on the Polar Row Facebook page. “With that, our expedition now comes to an end having achieved the ultimate in success.”

Jan Mayen is not permanently inhabited, but is staffed by around 18 members of the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute who have a base there and welcomed the crew into their facilities.

As crew members wait to be evacuated, they have been detailing their journey in social media posts.

“The hospitality has been unbelievable — they’ve saved our lives,” Mr. Gregory said in a video posted to his Twitter account.

The clip shows a desolate beach strewn with driftwood and whale bones.

Private airplanes are not permitted to land on the island, so the rowers are waiting to see when they might be able to return home.

“There is news that a boat may be coming past next week that may have space on board for us,” Mr. Gregory wrote in a post on Saturday. “Hopefully they will be willing to allow us to jump aboard and begin the journey home.”

The expedition’s captain, Fiann Paul, initially tried to have a fresh crew brought to the island to continue the journey, he said in an email. Flight restrictions on Jan Mayen made that impossible, but Mr. Paul vowed to attempt the Arctic journey again.

“We will row again,” he said, “maybe an even bigger route than this one.”

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