Jeffrey Allison, from Middleton Tyas, who circumnavigated the Arctic in his 70s, had diedLOVING tributes have been paid to an inspirational grandfather, who was well into his 70s when he took on and conquered one of the last great challenges of Arctic adventure.
Jeffrey Allison, from Middleton Tyas, between Richmond and Darlington, died on Tuesday (June 25) after a long illness.
The 75-year-old father of six hit the headlines in 2011 when he arrived back in Britain having circumnavigated the Arctic via the North West Passage and the Northern Sea Route in his 52ft sailing craft, Eshamy.
The epic voyage included 40 days and nights sailing from Canada to Norway, high in the Arctic to the north of Russia.
Two years earlier, during his first attempt at the polar circumnavigation, he was boarded and arrested at sea by the Russian Navy and detained in Murmansk.
He did not have the necessary permissions to sail through the Russian-controlled Northern Sea Route. He was fined and prohibited from entering Russia for five years.
His successful attempt was similarly made without permission, however, on this occasion, the Russian Navy did not catch him.
Mr Allison’s wife of nearly 40 years, Prue, paid tribute to her husband.
She said: “He was reliable, dependable and if he said he was going to do something, he did it irrespective of whatever problems he met along the way.
“He was unique, kind and generous. We have lost our best friend.”
Mr Allison’s zest for adventure had been with him throughout his life - he was a mountaineer in his 20s and made a number of ascents of alpine mountain routes, including the first British ascent of the north face of the Aiguille de Triolet and an early ascent of the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses.
His son, James, who joined Mr Allison on some of his sailing expeditions, said his father was proud of his climbing and seafaring achievements. He described him as ‘very inspirational’.
Mr Allison was an equally successful businessman, building up independent buildings materials manufacturer Sherburn Stone Company.
He gained a degree in mining engineering at Nottingham University and became a colliery under manager, before joining his father in running the family quarrying business.
He ran the company from the 1960s, expanding the business into a significant regional manufacturing employer.
It was only after his retirement that he took up sailing, which makes his seafaring achievements all the more remarkable.
His daughter, Louise, recalled her father’s ‘encyclopaedic’ knowledge of a range of subjects, including economics, politics and history.
Mr Allison became ill only a few months after returning from his Arctic adventure in late 2011.
He had planned to visit South Georgia and the Antarctic on his next trip, but his failing health meant he was unable to.
Mr Allison leaves behind his wife, Prue, children Fiona, Catherine, Louise, James, Martyn and Paul, as well as 15 grandchildren.
Jeffrey conquers the world at the age of 71
Mr Allison said he was pleased to be back on dry land having overcome a number of setbacks during his journey.
He set sail on June 10, 2007, aboard The Lucky Dragon, and yesterday returned in his new yacht Eshamy. He took the loss of his first yacht in the Bering Sea in his stride.
“When I set off, I planned to take the unusual route and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure,” said the retired mining engineer, from Middleton Tyas, near Richmond, North Yorkshire.“There are things that have happened throughout the trip, but when you have seven or eight plans you usually get through, although it did get worrying sometimes when I was down to just one or two left.”
When he set off from Hartlepool he had his son, James, 31, and novice sailor Phil Welch onboard.
The men were the first sailors to complete the journey through the Northwest Passage, in the Arctic circle, in a fibreglass boat.
They took only 20 days, which is believed to be another record for a sailboat. They are also the first Englishmen to sail the route westwards in one season.
The closest he came to catastrophe was in the Bering Sea, when two men he had onboard decided they had had enough and wanted to get off.
“I contacted a local fishing boat and asked them to come and get them,” he said.
“However, when the boat arrived, there were 15ft waves, which made the task a little bit difficult.
“Unfortunately the boat clipped my yacht and damaged the wires that hold the mast in place, but it was just one of those things.
“I managed to source another yacht and continued with the trip.”
He began the voyage by sailing to the Orkney Islands, Faroes and then Iceland, before travelling round the west side of Greenland and then through the Northwest Passage to Alaska. He then sailed down the west side of Canada, and across the Pacific to Hawaii and then on to Fiji.
After Fiji, came Australia and then a journey along the barrier reef to Darwin, across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius and then on to Cape Town, in South Africa and then on to the Azores, before sailing along the east coast of England and arriving at Hartlepool.
He said: “I have some wonderful memories, sailing along the Barrier Reef was fantastic and sailing alone for 32 days on the Atlantic was certainly challenging.”
He was met in Hartlepool by his son and daughter Catherine, who also joined her father on some of the legs of the journey, and his wife, Prue.
FROM THE NWP RECORDS OF 2007:
No.115 vessel Luck Dragon (12·1 m yacht) Britain
Jeffrey Allison completed a route West 3 NW Passage
(The last message didn't appear on the blog for some reason... sorry!)
After arriving in Nome James, Thomas & Anne said their goodbyes & flew back to the UK on a high note - what a trip! Jeffrey stayed on with Luck Dragon in preparation to carry on south to Japan.
New crew flew out to join Jeffrey - Frank Carroll & his team - and we brought the boat into Nome harbour, which was altered in 2006, making the entrance excellent. We had engine problems & the weather was bad, and Frank & co unfortunately had to leave because of the delays.
Once the maintenance had been carried out, 2 other local crew, Louis & Louis Green, joined him to head towards Dutch Harbour, 600 miles further south. We set off on Sat 29th Sept with an excellent forecast, hoping to arrive in 5 days...
However it was not to be. On Wednesday 3rd October a big storm came rushing in from Russia out of the blue 160miles from Dutch Harbour. We'd had a clear and cold night, with the stars shining brightly, & Jeffrey had been pleased the day before with how his forecast had been right - good westerly winds with the genoa right out. He got a new forecast about midday local time which stated a depression & big storm were on its way. By 4pm Jeffrey had heaved to, reefed in the sails & was putting the storm sail up. Wind & waves were picking up but Jeffrey was confident Luck Dragon would cope. The crew however contacted fishing boats on VHF channel 16 & requested to be taken off.
The storm escalated & even the large fishing boat was thrown about, & other vessels were seeking shelter around the Aleutians & St Paul Islands. The crew of Sunset Bay were excellent and we were back in Dutch Harbour on Friday 5th in the evening.
We made it!
We've made it! First Brits through the NW passage in a fibreglass boat!
We came through the Bering Straits & anchored in the bay in Port Clarence, 70miles north of Nome. The forecast isn't good & we're not sure of the entrance into Nome so we've decided to stop here for the moment.
A taxi into town is beckoning...
UPDATE: SV ESHAMY has arrived Hammerfest Norway (70.66423N 23.68639W)
Sat Oct 01 2011 17:01:08 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time)
Congratulation on your Polar Circumnavigation!!!