Grounding of expeditionary ship in the Arctic evokes memories but no worries

Sorry to hear that the Akademik Ioffe ran aground in the Arctic.

But the expeditionary cruise ship, on which I have sailed, has already been refloated.

The last time something like this happened, with the Clipper Adventurer back in 2010, we were on the ship, Sheena and I. It wasn’t fun, obviously, but we were never in any real danger.

From what I have read, I don’t believe the 160 or so people on the Ioffe are threatened in any way.

In 2010, our ship stayed grounded and we had to be rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Given that the Ioffe has been refloated, and is reporting no hull breach, the ship will probably head to the nearest major port — possibly Resolute.

A sister ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, has been making its way to Kugaaruk, near where the ship slid onto a submerged shelf. It may already be there and taking on passengers from Ioffe.

Keep in mind that the Canadian Arctic is NOT like the Antarctic.

First, it is an archipelago of islands, which means land is never very far away.

The worst case scenario in 2010 would have found us bundled up in our cold-weather gear and zooming ashore in zodiacs to await the arrival on land of the coast guard. As it happened, the sun was shining and we waited, most of us, lounging on the top deck.

Second consideration: as in this case, other vessels are always within rescue distance.

The other concern is environmental damage. But given that the ship is floating again — probably after discharging fresh drinking water to reduce weight — the chances of that appear to be minimal.

Adventure tourism involving expeditionary vessels of this modest size brings important benefits to people who live in the Arctic.

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