Little boat up to big task

Australia's newest and smallest imported sailboat has just emerged triumphant from one of the toughest tests on the planet.

A Canadian-built NorseBoat 17.5 travelled 1400 miles through the Arctic, crewed by a team of Royal Marines.

“Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Oliver and Major Tony Lancashire sailed, rowed and when necessary dragged their NorseBoat 17.5 across the ice through the Arctic's Northwest Passage,” said Ian Jackson, who has just taken on the Australian distribution.

“For centuries the Northwest Passage has been a lure to adventurers and explorers seeking a northern link between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

“Through the expedition the marines were able to raise awareness and significant funding for the charity, Toe in the Water, which uses adventure sailing to rehabilitate men and women injured serving their country.”

Jackson said the 17.5ft NorseBoat sailing and rowing cruiser was chosen by the marines because of its seaworthiness and versatility.

“Built in the Canadian Maritimes by NorseBoat Limited, this craft blends high performance with classic lines. It can be sailed, rowed by one or two persons, and used as a camp cruiser with its abundant storage and sheltered camping accommodations.”

The two adventurers encountered a wide range of conditions – sailing to windward in extreme conditions, rowing on glassy seas, sailing steadily at six knots with strong following winds, and being locked in ice floes for days on end. They also encountered charging bears, curious whales, and the warm, friendly people who inhabit the arctic.

At the successful conclusion of the voyage Kevin Oliver and Tony Lancashire gave a glowing report of their boat.

“Arctic Mariner has been our home for six weeks, and she has been superb,” they said.

” She has been out in big seas. On, into and off the ice, beached on rocks, and there are no dents in her hull, just the odd scratch. Her rig is simple and robust, and she can be rowed at over three knots by one person.  And everywhere we go, people say how pretty her lines are.”

The first NorseBoat 17.5 arrived in Australia earlier this year, costing from $30,995 to $41,000. Smaller and larger versions are also available.

For more information contact Ian Jackson, Norseboat Australia Sailing and Rowing Cruisers, www.norseboat.com.au, ph 0431 046 700. For more details of the Arctic Mariner Expedition or to make donations to Toe In The Water charity visit http://www.arcticmariner.org/.

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