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Nite Watches - Official Timekeeper of the 2010 Arctic Mariner Expedition

The 2010 Arctic Mariner Expedition is now complete. Kev and Tony have arrived at Resolute Bay and are now preparing for the trip home. Thanks to everyone for your donations and messages of support. Check the blog for a final message from Tony and Kev.

Navigating the ice-strewn central Northwest Passage in an open boat powered only by oar and sail… to inspire, raise awareness and provide funding for using adventurous sailing in remote locations to rehabilitate those injured serving their country.

Patron: Major General Buster Howes OBE,
Commandant General Royal Marines

‘There’s them as never leaves the shore,
But me, I’ve always seized an oar,’
- Felix Dennis

Breaking the ice between continents; two Royal Marines are returning to the Northwest Passage to finish their journey. They will row, sail or haul their small craft the remaining 700 miles of their historic journey. I am immensely proud to be the patron of this imaginative and challenging adventure. The sponsorship for Toe in the Water, a charity which helps to support the rehabilitation of injured Service personnel through sailing is a resonant and vivid statement, which links the indomitable, expeditionary spirit of two Bootnecks with our similarly determined and resilient wounded. I wish Kev and Tony fair winds and a safe passage. United We Conquer!

After the success of completing two thirds of the passage last year, Kev and Tony are returning to Gjoa Haven on 11 August 2010 to meet up with their tiny boat and finish their epic journey. The ice looks thinner than last year and they have 750 miles to go to Pond Inlet, through some of the most dramatic scenery in this remote corner of the world.

Follow their journey on the tracker, send them a message of support, and most importantly, sponsor them to raise money for Toe in the Water. Sadly, since last summer the number of injured servicemen needing help has increased.

 & Rowing Cruisers o visit our website. NorseBoat France. Visit our website. Click here.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Tony Lancashire & Kevin Oliver with the Arctic Mariner
during the 2009 Expedition.

The Expedition began in the summer of 2009 when Kev Oliver and Tony Lancashire departed Inuvik in late July with the intention of traversing the whole passage, in a single season, in their 17ft open Norseboat 'Arctic Mariner'. The choice of boat and their depth of preparations were immediately vindicated as they rode out gale force winds on the first of many sustained open water crossings in their tiny boat. During the course of 42 days in the arctic seas they battled over 1400 nautical miles sailing and rowing through towering swells, thick fog and drifting ice. Cut off by pack ice, at one stage they resorted to hauling the ½ tonne Norseboat across the ice for over ten miles.

The historical links to previous explorers that have searched for the NW passage before them were never far from mind and, as the weather worsened and they battled the worst ice conditions in over a decade, it was perhaps fitting that their journey halted for the season in Gjoa Haven the iconic wintering spot of Roald Amundsen and the last resting spot of so many brave men from Franklins doomed 1846 expedition.

After a few months replacing the pounds lost last summer the two have concluded they have a task to finish and are returning to the arctic this summer to complete the last 750 nm of the passage through to Pond inlet on the Atlantic coast. Again they will pit themselves against wind, waves, ice and polar bears in their small but robust 17ft boat.

None of it would have been possible without the fantastic assistance of a host of individuals both at home in the UK and in Canada, in particular the incredible hospitality of the people of Tuktoyaktuk, Cambridge bay and Gjoa Haven and the Canadian military and the coastguard service for constantly monitoring our progress. They look forward to renewing a raft of friendships when they return to the arctic this summer.

"As Patron of this expedition, I have enormous admiration for what Kev Oliver and Tony Lancashire have accomplished. Not only have they demonstrated outstanding qualities of determination, fortitude and cheerfulness in the face of adversity, the money they have raised for the charity Toe In The Water will directly benefit and support servicemen and women seriously injured in the cause of their duty. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines should be justifiably proud of what they have achieved."

- Major General Garry Robison CB
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways in the Canadian Arctic, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Click on the image above for more information.

The Northwest Passage was first successfully navigated by Roald Amundsen over three seasons, ending in 1906.

Over 100 years later, it remains a challenging proposition. Successful traverses demand skill, preparation, patience and luck.

Although currently much in the news, the Northwest Passage remains a true wilderness.

In the early 1800s, the Northwest Passage was probed from both East and West as far as the central ice-filled region between what is now Cambridge Bay and Resolute. This central region is steeped in history, particularly as it was the site of Captain John Franklin's disastrous expedition of 1846-48 and the subsequent searches for it.

The two men will row, sail or haul their small craft 2000 miles along this historic route. Detailed study of recent ice charts has shown that the ice should progressively clear sufficiently to enable the passage. During the expedition, they will pass the sites where Franklin's men died, weakened through illness probably caused by lead contamination of their tinned food, as they struggled to find a way out of the passage.

View a map of their route on the EXPEDITION TRACKER or check out their equipment list.

www.norseboat.comNorseboat Limited of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, Canada have graciously given a 20% sponsorship to the expedition and made modifications to a standard NorseBoat 17.5 Sailing and Rowing Cruiser.  The NorseBoat 17.5 for the Arctic Mariner expedition is constructed of a fiberglass composite which has been reinforced for the ice and has extra buoyancy and stabilization features.  The NorseBoat 17.5 is stable, lightweight at 240kg, and capable of being rowed with its dual sliding seat rowing set-up or sailed with its robust, high performance rig. For more details see their website by clicking the logo above.

Taken from our blog last year: "She has been our home for six weeks, and she has been superb. She has been out in big seas, and we have never felt she was going over. She's clocked 7.8 knots downwind, and she is very dry, even as she wallows after surfing down a wave. She is robust - and we've put her through hell - on, into and off the ice, beaching her on rocks, and there are no dents in her hull, just the odd scratch. We've hit the centreboard on rocks numerous times. Her rig is simple and robust, and she can be rowed at over 3 knots by one person. And everywhere we go, people say how pretty her lines are!"

Equipment List and Stowage Plan

It also has two underseat compartments for Kev and Tony's "personal" gear, a large forward locker and a wet aft locker also containing the bilge. We also have two watertight bags which will be lashed under the bow for ready use items and as our "grab bag" if we need to use the liferaft. Click here for complete equipment list and stowage plan.

The success or failure of the Arctic Mariner Expedition is, of course, dependent upon favourable ice. Last year, as forecast had significantly more ice than the last few years as can be clearly seen on the second chart below (and by the pictures of us dragging the boat!). However, recent forecasts show that in 2010 it will return to lower levels to enable completion of the route in early September. Up to date information can be found from the Canadian Ice Service.

August 2009

Blog Entries

    September 2010
  • 3

The expedition has now resumed. The tracker below displays the progress of the Arctic Mariner as they made their way sucessfully from Inuvik on July 24th, 2009 to Gjoa Haven on September 5th, 2009. Kev and Tony have now departed Gjoa Haven and resumed the expedition as of August 15th, 2010. Zoom out to view the entire route.

View Larger Map

The charity “Toe in the Water” was set up in the summer of 2008 to use arduous and competitive sailing as an extension of the world-renowned rehabilitation work carried out at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court for as long as there are injured servicemen and women in need of support. Its aims are:

  • to re-inspire injured servicemen and assist them in being able to see beyond their injuries.
  • to challenge injured servicemen and women both physically and mentally; taking them beyond their own and others expectations.
  • to provide a vehicle that can assist injured servicemen in finding a meaningful working and living environment following profound injury.

“Toe in the Water” has already enjoyed success at Cowes Week with a half able-bodied and half injured crew. Its work can become an important part of the rehabilitation process. For more information click their logo to go to their website.

As last year, sponsors will receive visibility on the home page of this website as well as in the media coverage which included national press and local TV. The positioning of logos and advertising on the boat itself can be negotiated in proportion to the level of sponsorship. Additionally, both Kev and Tony are experienced expedition cameramen and made a 30 minute film after last year's journey to which they will now add. A publishing company has expressed interest in a book which is part written, in early draft and of course has more material to come. To discuss sponsorship and media issues email Kev here.

Show Tony and Kev Your Support
Leave them a message on the message board below, or
send them a private message by email at

Kevin OliverKevin Oliver
Tony LancashireTony Lancashire
Kevin Oliver has been a Royal Marine for nearly twenty years. He trained as a Mountain and Arctic Warfare specialist, spent six winters in Norway and has served operationally in Northern Ireland and Iraq. He has just returned from seven months in Afghanistan.

He started dinghy sailing as a small child while living in Greece. At 19 he was climbing as a pair in the Andes and then descended an Amazonian river on a self-constructed balsa wood raft. Since then he has become a qualified mountaineer and yacht skipper.

Kevin's spare time is devoted to renovating an old farmhouse and helping his sons appreciate the outdoors.

Tony Lancashire is starting his fourteenth year in the Royal Marines and during that time he has deployed on operations to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland. He specialised as a Landing Craft Officer which led him to operate small boats in a variety of climates including Arctic Canada and Norway as well as the jungles of West Africa and the Far East. Tony’s principle passion is sailing – anything from dinghies to racing yachts. He will be taking his Company of Marines to Helmand province in Afghanistan early in 2011.

With the benefit of lightweight materials, freeze-dried rations, and communications with the outside world, these two men will be otherwise unsupported in making this journey. With extensive experience of the Arctic and small boats, they will rely on their initiative and determination to overcome the inevitable challenges caused by the cold, and potentially narwhals, whales and polar bears, not to mention the mosquitos! Emergency evacuation is possible as a last resort.

In addition to our supporters on the home page, we are very grateful to the following who have made individual donations:

Simon & Julia Charles 
Nick & Claudia Airey
Robert McMullen (USA)
Andrew & Gabriella Methven
Tim & Susie Daniels
Richard & Jo Maunder
Claire Garner (Hong Kong)
Catherine Doran
Rachel & Will Carpenter
Alexander Thomas
Matthew Thomas
Alan & Clare Benson
John & Amanda Pearson
Simon & Wendy Bateson
Vice-Adm. Sir Cameron Rusby & Lady Rusby
Richard Harding
Christopher Johannson
Graham & Marilyn Dunn
Nick & Marie-Claire GutFreund
Alison & Peter Green
Andrew Keith Robinson
Miss Elaine Wood
Andrew Stevenson-Hamilton
Kenneth Cheeseman
A & M Hopkinson-Woolley
Heathcliffe & Danny Read
Brian & Sue Oliver
Chris Henwood
Phil Mclean (USA)
Angela Oliver
Simon Willing
Jeff Scofield (USA)
David Shannon
Simon Murray
Georgina McGill
Julia Read
Clive Read
James Barr
Gregory Austin
Adrian Wheal
Karen Cummings
Adam Grainger
Mike Lancashire
Charles Johnson
Mark Fitzgerald
Gillian Leslie
Karen Gent
Alistair Bowden
Anjalee Mead
Cathy Bergdahl
David Peacock
Thomas Richard
Fiona Gardner


You could help by sponsoring the expedition: We have almost covered all the costs of the expedition and raised £7,000 for Toe in the Water last year. We have already arranged to sell the boat on completion of the expedition and this will raise more money. But Toe in the Water's work is increasing and they need more funding to continue their excellent work rehabilitating soldiers and Marines injured serving their country. The simplest and most secure way to donate is by using PayPal. Click on the Donate button above.

Cheques should be made payable to "Arctic Mariner Expedition" and sent to the address below. Alternatively, you could transfer your sponsorship to the Expedition bank account: "Arctic Mariner Expedition" Sort Code: 60 24 77 Account Number: 188 33 950

Expedition Address:
Kevin Oliver
Southcott Farm
Sheldon, Devon EX144QR
07846 003538 (m)

Many thanks for your support! We'll keep in touch as the expedition develops.