The Maud goes home: Norwegians will float the long-sunken ship halfway home this summer

Eighty-seven years after the Maud sank and a year after it was pulled up from the seabed, the ship will start its float home to Norway from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

The Maud will overwinter in Greenland before returning to Norway, 100 years after it left

While the team waits for the ice around the Maud to melt, they are clearing out her insides of sea silt and artifacts. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

Eighty-seven years after the Maud sank and a year after it was pulled up from the seabed, the ship will start its float home to Norway from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, this summer.  

"It's a big moment to see that's she's now starting to begin the trip back home," said Jan Wanggaard, manager for the Maud Returns Home project. "We share this with a lot of people in Norway." 

Maud's rig was also used on the Fram, the ship that took Amundsen to the South Pole. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

The wooden ship was named for Queen Maud of Norway and christened when polar explorer Roald Amundsen shattered a piece of ice against its hull. It left Norway in July 1918, heading for the North Pole via the Northeast Passage. 

It never made it.

Amundsen's creditors sold it to the Hudson's Bay Company and it sank in 1930.

It rested in the shallow water across from Cambridge Bay until last summer when a team of four Norwegians used giant "balloons" to raise the wreck. The team then slipped a barge under it and left it out over the winter to dry.

Wanggaard says the wood of the Maud was well preserved by the cold climate. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

'The curse now is ending'

The team started shovelling mud out of the ship's innards last fall and this summer, as they wait for the ice around it to melt, they'll finish the job.

The Maud was built for Amundsen, the first expedition leader to sail the Northwest Passage and the first person to reach the South Pole.

Digging into her rooms, the team is becoming familiar with more of its history—they've found old glass lampshades and a German book, titled The Curse.

Wanggaard says some say the Maud is cursed because it lost Amundsen "all his money" and never reached the North Pole.

"From our perspective, we see that the curse now is ending as she's now being lifted and returning to Norway. There's a nice end to the story."

A ladder found near the wreck of the Maud. (Submitted by Jan Wanggaard)

Departure: mid-August

Wanggaard says he expects they'll sail out in mid-August and reach western Greenland by September, where they'll have to stop to spend the winter.

The team is currently building a cradle overtop of the ship to protect it on the journey, but even still, they don't want to chance the wind, waves and weather typical of the late fall.

The barge, named Jensen, after the Maud's architect, will be pulled by a tugboat and will travel slowly, hopefully arriving in Vollen, Norway, on July 18, 2018, exactly 100 years after it left port.

Plans for a museum to chronicle the ship's history and the retrieval process are underway, though the museum will not be ready when Maud arrives.

"Amundsen is one of the key people in the building of our national identity, when we were a young nation in the early 1900s, so in this way," Wanggaard said, "it's all quite emotional." 

With files from Jane Sponagle