Update: Expedition Ship Aground in Arctic Free at Last

September 16, 2010

Update, 9:30 a.m. EDT: The Canadian Press has reported that the Clipper Adventurer, which ran aground during an Arctic expedition cruise last month, is finally afloat. The vessel was freed from a rock on Tuesday using four commercial tugs. The Coast Guard says there were no leaks due to this incident. Meanwhile, a mapping expert from the University of New Brunswick told Web site nunatsiaqonline.com that, despite earlier reports that the ship struck an uncharted rock, the vessel actually ran into a known hazard -- an underwater cliff.

According to a statement on Adventure Canada's Web site, the remainder of the ship's 2010 season has been canceled.

(August 30, 8:17 a.m. EDT) -- Passengers on an Arctic expedition cruise got more adventure then they bargained for this weekend after their ship ran aground near Kugluktuk, a small town in Northern Canada's Nunavut territory, and remained stuck there for two days awaiting Coast Guard assistance.

Nobody was injured in the incident (Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Theresa Nichols told CNN there were an estimated 128 passengers and 69 crewmembers onboard); travelers were in "good spirits," according to Adventure Canada's statement, enjoying "onboard programming and hospitality" throughout the weekend.

The Clipper Adventurer, owned by Mississauga, Ontario-based Adventure Canada, became lodged on an uncharted rock on Friday, August 27, at approximately 7:10 p.m. local time. A statement on the company's Web site says the ship was en route from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk and that, at the time, "the seas were calm, sunny conditions and good visibility with no wind or swell."

After unsuccessful attempts on Saturday to dislodge the vessel during high tide, the Canadian Coast Guard came to the rescue; according to CNN, an icebreaker arrived on the scene Sunday to transport passengers to Kugluktuk. Adventure Canada arranged to fly the stranded travelers to Edmonton last night.

Among those onboard the impacted voyage was Adventure Canada CEO Matthew Swan. "We were on a single line track here that indicated we had 68 metres of water directly under us, when we found ourselves on a rock," Swan told Canada's CBC News. "It's a part of the world where you do your best, but there are blank spots on the map."

The ship remains grounded with a slight list. Interestingly, "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood was supposed to sail onboard the next Northwest Passage cruise as a lecturer. She'll now have to wait. Canada's CBC News reports that it is up to the tour operator to pull the vessel off the rock with tugboats.

"We certainly plan to do the trip next year -- a lot of people we're with have said the same thing," she told CBC News.

Stay tuned.

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor

Image appears courtesy of Adventure Canada

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