Concern at rogue Norwegians' Antarctic trip

Jarle Andhoy (left) and Samuel Massie. Photo / NZPA
Jarle Andhoy (left) and Samuel Massie. Photo / NZPA

A New Zealand Customs vessel has been searching around Auckland harbour and Waiheke Island for any sign of a yacht carrying a Norwegian man authorities believe may be trying to get to Antarctica illegally.

Jarle Andhoy and his companion, Samuel Massie, attempted to cross the South Pole on quadbikes last February in a bid to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Roald Amundsen in his historic journey to the South Pole 100 years ago.

A support yacht called the Berserk, with three men onboard, was waiting for them in McMurdo Sound but shortly into the trip its emergency locator beacon was activated. Transmissions ceased after several hours.

After an extensive search led by New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre, a life raft was found but there was no signs of the yacht or the three men aboard.

Mr Andhoy, 35, and Mr Massie, 19, trekked for a week to the US base at McMurdo before being flown to Christchurch where they faced severe criticism for attempting the journey.

Today a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said Mr Andhoy arrived in New Zealand early this month and failed to declare he had been deported from Canada.

Since then the Norwegian Government had notified Antarctic Treaty Parties it was concerned he might be planning another voyage to the Ross Sea, the spokesman said.

It had not been authorised by them, which was required by Norwegian law.

Mr Andhoy reportedly left an Auckland port bound for Antarctica on Monday aboard the yacht Nilaya.

"The Southern Ocean is one of the most remote and inhospitable areas in the world and New Zealand government agencies are obviously concerned about any possibility that there could be a repeat of last year's events in the Ross Sea,'' Foreign Affairs said.

Customs New Zealand was trying to learn the whereabouts of the yacht now, Foreign Affairs said.

A Customs spokeswoman said a customs vessel was sent to search the Auckland Harbour and Waiheke Island vicinities this morning.

"An aircraft will also do an aerial sweep working on the time and distance the Nilaya may have covered,'' she said.

To travel within New Zealand on a boat did not require customs clearance, but it was an offence to leave New Zealand waters without Customs clearance, the spokeswoman said.

The Foreign affairs spokesman said it was not known whether Mr Massie was also part of this voyage.

The 54-foot Nilaya has been for sale and was described as a "small superyacht'' on the website nilaya.co.nz.

It was being sold for $NZ575,000. The person selling the yacht could not be reached for comment.

Mr Andhoy, who undertook last year's polar adventure without permission from either the Norwegian or New Zealand governments, has a history of launching unsanctioned voyages.

Following the fatal attempt last year, Mr Andhoy insisted he had taken the necessary precautions for the safety of his crew.

"I think we did everything as good as we could. We prepared 110 per cent.

"The place where this incident happened was a very easygoing place to sail, it's near a sound, near land, safe anchorage ... This ending is very, very surprising. There's no logic to it.''

December 14 last year marked the 100th anniversary of Amundsen reaching the South Pole.

- APNZ

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