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  1. ITV Report

Schoolboy, 14, aims to be youngest person to ever sail around the North Pole

  • Video report by ITV News reporter Sejal Karia

At 14, Benji Edwards from Cambridge is hoping to become the youngest person to ever sail around the North Pole and break a world record in the process.

The mission is also personal. Benji lives with a painful long-term condition affecting his gut. He aims to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Here he writes for ITV News about his incredible journey so far.

  • Friday July 1
he crew before they set off from Bristol Credit: ITV News

My name is Benji Edwards. I'm 14 years old and I'm attempting to sail around the North Pole in one season.

If successful we will be the first British boat to do so and I will be the youngest in the world and only British person to do the entire journey. So exciting!

We set off in our 49ft aluminium sailing yacht Northabout two weeks ago from Bristol.

I am now in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands and we plan to leave tomorrow for Norway, then to Murmansk, Alaska, Greenland and finally Bristol again.

I'm doing this for two charities. First, Cambridge University Hospital's Addenbrook's Charitable Trust, where I am raising money for research into inflammatory bowel disease, which put me in hospital myself two years ago.

The other is Wicked Weather Watch, an educational charity that interacts with schools to teach children about climate change for which I'm also a youth ambassador.

With only one night to go before I leave essentially familiar waters, I feel a surprising lack of nervousness. I'm not generally a nervous character but I would have expected a few nerves on the embarking of what is, truth be told, a dangerous enterprise.

The journey up has been largely peaceful, the weather has not always been ideal but I feel at no point were things spiralling out of our control.

This is our last day in British waters and it will take us five days to reach Tromsø in Norway. I'll write again soon.

  • Sunday July 4
Benji keeping watch as the crew sail out to sea. Credit: ITV News

We are now half way up Norway and after 24 hours sailing, you discover that only so much joy can be had from water stretching out in every direction.

And the last two days I've had a real problem. I've only slept just under two hours in the last 36. Concentrating is hard and I haven't been feeling hungry. Luckily Tromsø is only three days away.

The temperature has now started to dip, not so much when you are on watch but in the evening it is now necessary to wear a light fleece.

We will cross the Arctic Circle soon, and from there we will go to Norway's Lofoten Islands. Write again soon.

  • Friday July 8
The view from the boat as they sail towards Norway. Credit: ITV News

So we've been in Tromsø in Norway two days now and we’re all set to leave tomorrow.

The Norwegian people are lovely. All those that we’ve had any interaction with have been friendly, helpful and accepting. And for some reason the Norwegians do really good pizza.

What I really love about this city is its tunnels. The surrounding area of Tromsø has beautiful, encircling mountains, some of which still have snow on.

When we went into town I got a small polar bear wearing a scarf to cable tie to the front of the boat.

I'll write again during the next bit of sailing time.

  • Sunday July 10
We've just crossed the Arctic Circle and from now on we should have 24 hour daylight. It's strange being able to see the sun at midnight. > And hopefully within a month or so we'll be in polar bear land. > Credit: ITV News

Sorry I didn't write yesterday, I was a little busy throwing up.

We left Tromsø in the middle of my first watch and are sailing up the fjords again.

But during my downtime I began to feel sick. I threw up my dinner. Macaroni cheese and strawberry yoghurt all mixed together. It was exactly as bad as it sounds.

That night the weather was appalling. Rain, wind, roughish sea, the whole lot. I threw up again and so did my crew member Hazel when she came to relieve me.

This morning's watch we passed Nordkapp and the knife shell peninsula - the most northerly point in mainland Europe.

I've been there on land and it is very dramatic. A massive cliff looking out onto the Arctic Ocean.

During my next watch I plan to finally cable tie the scarf bear to the front of the boat.

We should reach Vardø in Norway some time tomorrow when I'll write again, bye.

We've just crossed the Arctic Circle and from now on we should have 24 hour daylight.

It's strange being able to see the sun at midnight.

And hopefully within a month or so we'll be in polar bear land.

– Benji Edwards
  • Friday July 15
A graphic showing the route of Benji Edwards' expedition. Credit: ITV News

Hello. We've been in Murmansk a day now and it is fascinating. On the way in we saw a submarine. We'd been hoping to see one but hadn't actually expected for it to happen.

Upon our arrival in Murmansk we were met by a group of customs people.

That interaction went without a hitch but was still quite unnerving. We're tied up beside a tugboat on a large concrete pontoon. Murmansk doesn't have a yacht pontoon. David, Constance, Barbara and Nikolai's friend Dennis were already here.

David came onboard almost immediately, once the customs people had left, David took me up to the hotel he's staying in. We walked to the hotel and all the time my brain was screaming Animal Farm.

It was a really very strange experience. Lots of grey concrete, lots of memorials. A lot of the buildings were in various states of disrepair. The restaurant we went to was nice, with a view of the city's skyline. All in all, Murmansk is a verydystopian place. Very like Pyramiden on Spitsbergen.

This morning, Dave, Annie and John left to go home. Dennis arrived at the same time as a Russian reporter. Nikolai and I did interviews, with Nikolai acting as a translator between me and the reporter.

We're going to be staying in Murmansk for a few days, so I'll write again when we're off. Bye.

Track Benji's journey through the Wicked Weather website here