The main purpose of our trip the year before on Akademik Ioff was to find out the physical feasibility of our intended joint expedition and to see what the ice conditions were like in the Northwest Passage. For me, I hoped to gain a good visual sense of what I’d be trying to capture on film. Within the first few days, I knew I would bring back never-before-seen footage from The Passage. From Dan and Jim’s perspective, they grew confident that a Nordhavn boat could take on The Passage and survive. Each morning, the crew of Akademik Ioff provided the ship’s passengers with its own newspaper, giving the latest headlines. Each morning, the three of us would sit and discuss the sorry case of the world in general and feel all the more secure that our intended trip through the Northwest Passage was about as timely as we could hope for.
On September 15, 2008, with a growing sense of accomplishment and anticipation, I sat down for breakfast and opened the ship’s daily newspaper. I stared in abject and total disbelief at the latest headlines noting that Lehman Brothers was crashing, about to be financially erased from the face of the earth, and that the collateral damage was going to be unprecedented.
The collateral damage reached the Far North. As the days continued to roll by, Jim no longer wanted to discuss the trip. In fact, Jim no longer ate
with Dan and me. When the three of us actually were together, the talk was of anything but their $300,000 commitment to the trip and perhaps building a forty-foot boat so they could join in the adventure. By the time the trip aboard Akademik Ioff had ended, there was no $300,000 commitment. I saw it coming a mile away.
Dan Streech was the type of man who, when he told me of the offer’s withdrawal, he did it with tears in his eyes. I was completely in Dan’s corner. I couldn’t in good conscience ask for such a large amount of money while he was looking at having to lay off longtime trusted employees, people he truly loved.
But as much as I appreciated Dan’s position and honesty, I was devastated. Actually, more than devastated. I was completely and decisively screwed.
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A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.
What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.
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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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