Friday, June 28, 2013

Arctic Circumnavigator, Jeffrey Allison, has died (S/V ESHAMY 2011 NWP) Recounting Jeffery Allison's Achievements

Jeffrey Allison, from Middleton Tyas, who circumnavigated the Arctic in his 70s, had died

UNIQUE: Jeffrey AllisonUNIQUE: Jeffrey Allison
LOVING 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.

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Arctic adventure

Jeffrey Allison is safely back after an unprecedented Arctic adventure – and even closer to home than our man had imagined.
MAGNIFICENT MARINER: Jeffrey Allison’s sailing exploits have claimed a world firstMAGNIFICENT MARINER: Jeffrey Allison’s sailing exploits have claimed a world first
HOME is the sailor, home from the sea, the extraordinary Jeffrey Allison cheerfully admitting that he feels more tired sitting around the house than he did battling the chilling, truly dreadful emptiness of the Siberian ocean.
You’ll probably have read about him, or seen him on the telly, the 73- year-old mining engineer who became the first person in the world to circumnavigate the Arctic clockwise.
The voyage, Hartlepool to Hartlepool, covered 10,335 nautical miles on the 52ft Eshamy, embraced almost five months, included 40 days without setting foot on land, meant keeping an awfully sharp lookout for ice and offered few more keenly anticipated treats than a tin of peaches.
“Just like when you were a kid,” says Jeff.
HOME AGAIN: Jeffrey Allison is reunited with wife Prue at Hartlepool MarinaHOME AGAIN: Jeffrey Allison is reunited with wife Prue at Hartlepool Marina
What only the Echo said, and then only amid the shallows, was that he – like all the best – was a kid in Shildon, attended Timothy Hackworth infants, roamed free because back then none ever thought twice about it.
“You’d go off for the day with a bottle of water and a sugar sandwich,” he recalls. “Your mother would never worry where you were, there wasn’t anything to worry about.”
One or two others may have touched upon the impressive technical back-up – the GPS, the internet, the links with Nasa – to augment the nautical know-how of Jeff and his crewmate, Katharine Brownlie, a 28- year-old Australian.
None revealed his debt to the navigational skills learned in gaining his Queen’s Scout award as a 15-year-old in Spennymoor.
“I remember being taken to Ferryhill Station for my night navigation test,” he says. “You just opened the door and off you went, guided by the moon and the stars. Such things are still invaluable.”
Jeffrey Allison with co-sailor KatharineJeffrey Allison with co-sailor Katharine
His parents lived in Easington, moved to an aunt’s house in Shildon – Drybourne Avenue, posh end – before the birth.
He remembers adventures with the kids, hiding beneath a neighbour’s table during an air raid – “I expect they were aiming for the wagon works, missed as usual” – the day that a bomb dropped on the Store Field, in Shildon.
“The kids got there before the police did, took a belt of machine gun bullets, started a fire in a field next to the recreation ground. We were behind a fence about 30 yards away; fortunately they couldn’t get them to go off.”
He briefly attended another junior school in Butterknowle, west Durham – “they still had a cat o’ nine tails; I regularly got the cane, but made sure I didn’t get that” – before passing to attend Spennymoor Grammar Technical and going on to read mining engineering at Nottingham University.
Right back to his great grandfather, who helped found the Weardale Iron and Steel Company, his family had been involved in mining and quarrying.
“From sand and gravel to coal, there can’t be a commercial mineral that we haven’t taken out of the ground in the North of England,” he supposes.
At 24 he was under-manager of Middridge Drift. “There were some rough old Shildon lads there. I had to fine a few for bad timekeeping – there’d be hell on nowadays, the unions wouldn’t allow it” – finally moving into the family quarrying business.
Notionally still on the pay roll – “I talk to them, but they don’t take any notice” – he didn’t seriously take up sailing until eight years ago. That’s when Jeffrey Allison, father of six and grandfather of 13, really had to dig deep.
JEFF and his wife, Prue, live near Middleton Tyas, between Darlington and Richmond.
He’s quite small, quietly spoken, relaxed – not much like an Arctic adventurer at all, it’s tempting to write, but what does an Arctic adventurer look like?
The first question’s intercepted, seen coming a nautical mile away.
“Because it’s there,” he says, echoing the mountaineer George Leigh Mallory, who in 1923 supposed much the same when asked why he wanted to climb Everest.
He’s quickly in with his favourite saying, too. “We should listen to old men.”
The Arctic, Jeff reckons, wasn’t so much a dream as something that came together bit by bit. “I’ve not been on the yacht courses or anything like that, I just make it up as I go along, read the pilot books and listen to people. I’m not very good at this health and safety, the company won’t allow me into meetings.”
“Prue, originally from Newfield, near Bishop Auckland, insists not to believe a word of it. “He takes it very seriously. It was like a logistical chess game between him and the receding ice.”
“He could be a bit grumpy, but really he was very good, brought me a cup of tea every time he had to wake me up,” says Katharine.
“There was never a day when he wasn’t doing something. He was always happy to discuss things with me.
We were a little democracy, really.”
“We didn’t argue,” says Jeff. “She’d just ask me if I thought something was really wise.”
Katharine had joined at Aberdeen, before the 30-year-old yacht made its way to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Cambridge Bay, in Canada, and for 40 days across the Siberian Sea to Norway. “It was only when there were strong northerly winds, snow and ice than I sometimes wished I was somewhere else,” says Katherine.
“There are people back home who think it’s risky going out of Sydney Harbour.”
Jeff welcomed both crew and company.
“Two or three is best. When you’re by yourself, you’re breaking every rule in the book. You’re supposed to have someone on watch all the time.”
He talks, too, of the Aleutian Islands, a reminder of the infamous pun about the snow-blind wanderer in the Arctic wastes who thought he saw an approaching Inuit. Unfortunately it was just an optical Aleutian.
On one stage of the journey they’d been joined by two Alaskans who wanted to get off somewhere in the middle of the Barents Sea.
“I didn’t really know what my position was, but Nelson or Drake would have had them shot on sight,” says the skipper.
“That’s what I was afraid of,” says Katharine.
THE yacht’s under repair – “there’s quite a bit, but she did very well, really” – the skipper growing restless already. “At sea I missed the easy life at home, with no hassle, but I suppose at home I miss the adventure.
“The last week or so has been quite difficult. I don’t know where a thing is, I can’t deal with things. I keep thinking about the other blokes at sea, the fishermen from Hartlepool and Shields, the life that they had.
“They were the ones who had it really bad, not us, and they were being shot at, as well. We have an easy life compared to them.”
The next expedition, with son James, is a race around Scotland’s Western Islands that also includes mountain climbing. Jeff was an Alpine rock climber – “some pretty big crevices” – when younger.
And then? Katharine mentions Cape Horn as casually as a rambler might mention Cockfield Fell. Jeff insists he’ll be too old.
Pushed, however, the yachtsman slightly changes tack. “You don’t go around telling everyone what you’re going to do next, because then some bugger else will go and do it.”
Prue returns with more coffee, sighs and smiles. “He’s an amazing man and a very brave man,” she says.
“It’ll take more than being 73 to stop him.

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Jeffrey conquers the world at the age of 71

TOGETHER AGAIN: Round-the-world yachtsman Jeffrey Allison with his wife, PrueTOGETHER AGAIN: Round-the-world yachtsman Jeffrey Allison with his wife, Prue
  • TOGETHER AGAIN: Round-the-world yachtsman Jeffrey Allison with his wife, Prue
  • HOMECOMING: Jeffrey Allison yesterday

A 71-YEAR-OLD sailor has returned to port after an epic two-year round-theworld journey.Jeffrey Allison accomplished his dream when he arrived back in Hartlepool.

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.

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The rest of the Jeffery Allison story few have told...

No.115 vessel 
Luck Dragon (12·1 m yacht) Britain 
Jeffrey Allison completed a route West 3 NW Passage
NOTE: The sailing vessel LUCK DRAGON was abandoned and lost during a storm in Bering Sea
The final blog postings...
Quite the adventurer
Middleton Lodge

(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. 
Between 6.30 & 7.30pm local time Sunset Bay, a fishing vessel from Dutch Harbour, answered the call. By this time the seas were 15ft high and made the departure from Luck Dragon difficult. After several attempts the mizzen mast came down but we were all able to be taken off safely using a lasso rope, although Jeffrey sustained a black eye after being pulled into the sea.
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.
Jeffrey hadn't wanted to set off the EPIRB because it would have alerted everyone back home before he'd been able to contact them, so he put an EPIRB belonging to the Sunset Bay on board, which was switched on under coastguard's instruction to show Luck Dragon's position. After being checked out at hospital Jeffrey was keen to retrieve his boat and was approached by people working on the Deadliest Catch TV show who offered help & support. Scott Myers & Doug Stanley from the Discovery Channel & Dan Magone from a salvage company all helped out. However the Discovery Channel boats were both sheltering so we made no progress for a few days. The EPIRB stopped working after 3 days so Jeffrey was estimating Luck Dragon's position and on the 14th October he decided sadly to come home. 
Prue was surprised to receive a phone call from Seattle airport asking how he could get home, and a funny request given that he had just successfully navigated the NW passage!

We made it!
Port Clarence Alaska

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...
May 2008 - same boat found wrecked on beach:
Probably the most interesting thing my husband beach combed in May was a huge sailboat!! The Luck Dragon had been lost in the Bering Sea in October 2007 after it's captain & passengers had to abandon ship due to terrible weather conditions & rough seas. A gentleman from England had sailed the Northwest Passage and was so close to the end of his journey when things went bad. I was able to track the owner down & let him know that his boat had been found. I spoke with him in September & he was planning a trip to the GPS coordinates I gave him to see the wreckage & determine whether or not the Luck Dragon could be salvaged.

Jeffery Allison survived the loss of LUCK DRAGON and was able to sail a second time completing another Northwest Passage in 2011 and continued on to achieve a Polar Circumnavigation via the Northern Sea Route aboard sailing vessel ESHAMY.SV ESHAMY about to complete Historical Polar Circumnavigation in 2011

UPDATE: SV ESHAMY has arrived Hammerfest Norway (70.66423N 23.68639W)

Time :
Sat Oct 01 2011 17:01:08 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time)

Congratulation on your Polar Circumnavigation!!!

Congratulations Jeffery - You did it by George!

Smooth seas Captain...

1 comment:

Catherine Millar said...

Thank you Captain Grey Goose for your fascinating blog - Jeffrey Allison was my father & it's great to see this tribute.
Catherine Millar

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