June 17, 2009
The 57-foot Bagan has been at sea now for a full 24 hours, on her way to one of the most momentous journeys ever taken by a Nordhavn – or any production powerboat for that matter. Sprague Theobald cast the lines at around 10:30 Tuesday morning, bidding farewell to Newport Harbor, his friends, and all the comforts of home as he headed north for Halifax – en route to the Arctic via the Northwest Passage, which has recently opened up due to Global Warming.
Theobold began the countdown to his departure this weekend, with a bon voyage party hosted by Nordhavn. About 100 people, including PAE staff, fellow Nordhavn owners, friends of Theobald, media and other sponsors of the trip, gathered to wish him well and to screen a trailer of his documentary “Arctic Grail: The Northwest Passage”, which he will be filming and producing while underway.
Theobold, a three-time Nordhavn owner, was an understandably nervous guest of honor Friday night, despite having logged thousands of miles under his keels and enduring intimidating waves and tenacious wind during various journeys. But he was moved by the show of support he has been given since announcing more than a year ago his plans for the massive undertaking. PAE president Dan Streech, and his wife Marcia, flew out from California to see Theobald off. “We are immensely proud of Sprague,” said Streech, addressing the crowd. “We know these boats are capable of such voyages, but it takes a special kind of person to attempt to pull this off. I have the utmost faith in him.”
In the short while he’s been offshore, it’s been smooth sailing for the crew of Bagan. But it didn’t start out that way. Aiming to leave on Monday afternoon, plans to shove off were put on hold when the elaborate computer system on board suddenly crashed. Theobald’s technician made the drive up to Rhode Island from Connecticut and managed to get the system up and running again after working on it for hours. Departure was scrapped until the following morning. Theobald spent the night with these thoughts: “The pressures of mounting such an expedition/documentary are indescribable; their strength and persistence are far greater than anyone one or ten people can handle 24/7. This project has been in production for the past 18 months and while I’ve surrounded myself with the very best crew and ground support I could find, the pressures are inexorable.”
Anxieties appear to have quelled now that Theobald is well underway, and the excitement of the project is once again taking over. Still the gravity of the trip has not escaped him. “None of us knows what lies ahead,” wrote Theobald in his blog today. Well, we know one thing for sure: it’s going to be quite an adventure. And we’re happy to be along for the ride.
Follow Sprague Theobald and his crew on board Bagan as they head for the fabled Northwest Passage by visiting www.northwestpassagefilm.com/arctic.