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November 6, 2009

Historic Mission Comes to Official Conclusion
Sprague Theobold arrives in Seattle after conquering the
Northwest Passage and the Bering Sea



After facing icebergs, high winds, rough seas, and months in relative isolation, Sprague Theobald and his capable crew arrived in Seattle last night, the last stop on the amazing journey that took them through the Northwest Passage and across the Bering Sea. Upon arrival, Theobald jotted off an entry to the blog that he's kept nearly daily since preparations for the voyage began last year. His message was understated, punctated by obvious exhaustion, and obscured what must be an overwhelming sense of his accomplishment. "Today we tied up to the docks at Elliot Bay Marina, shut down the engine on Bagan, and officially finished what we started out from Newport, RI, to do," he wrote.

While Seattle marks the conclusion of Theobald's Northwest Passage route, it is not the final stop on Bagan's agenda. In early Spring, Theobald will bring the boat to Dana Point, CA, marking a secondary, nonetheless impressive, feat of a North American circumnavigation (Starting in 2006, Bagan circumnavigated North and Central America via the Panama Canal prior to marching up the East Coast to Newport, RI.).

A lot - virtually all - that has been written about Theobald's Northwest Passage journey has focused on the dangers of the trip, the weather uncertainties and the concerns of escape plan options should major disaster occur. (And news of Theobald's trip was everywhere: from monthly columns in Motorboating magazine to radio webcasts as well as a write-up on CNN.com.) But perhaps even more harsh than the sub-zero temps and fierce winds Theobald faced were the outspoken naysayers and critics of the trip - some of whom, instead of celebrating Theobald's bold decision to use the bulbous bow of his sturdy Nordhavn 57 as an essential ice breaker, disparaged the move as renegade. At the time, it was clearly a do-or-die judgement, one made only after all other options were exhausted. Sprague even wrote in his blog, "Simply put, I would not have tried any of this if I had not been on a Nordhavn." Having had placed his entire focus on the trip, Theobald either ignored - or for the most part - wasn't privy to the arguments brewing on various chat sites. With a successful ending to his story, Theobald addressed the controversy surrounding the nature of his trip. "Chasing a dream is risky but without risk, what in God’s name is life about?," he said earlier today. Click here to see Theobald's complete rebuttal.

Theobald will now spend the next several weeks decompressing and re-evaluating all that has happened the past four-and-a-half months, as well as sorting through the countless hours of footage so work can commence on his documentary film - the central motivation for his having even set out on the journey in the first place. (Theobald previewed a trailer at the Nordhavn Southwest Rendezvous two weeks ago which was met with raves.)

It was a year in the planning - from researching the location to outfitting the boat to educating and mentally preparing himself and his crew. Yet, Theobald began running into roadblocks even before he cast off the lines. For one, thanks to the ill-timing of the economic meltdown, key sponsors began backing out...including said boat manufacturer. Nordhavn had, in early discussions, started as a major financial backer, as well as possible escort (with a company-owned Nordhavn 43) but over time turned into sponsor of a bon-voyage party and sideline cheerleader. Despite this, Theobald perservered with his mission.

"We are so proud of Sprague Theobald," said PAE president Dan Streech, upon hearing of Theobald's official finish to what is perhaps the greatest achievement ever for a single Nordhavn. "He is a home-grown Nordhavn hero and we are certainly privleged to count him as a member of our family."

For a complete review of Theobald's adventure and to learn more about his documentary, Braving The Northwest Passage, visit northwestpassagefilm.com.

JMS