1. ITV Report

'We've done it!' Schoolboy sails into record books during North Pole voyage

Video report by ITV News reporter Nazarnine Moshiri

At just 14-years-old Benji Edwards has become the youngest person ever to sail around the North Pole.

The mission was personal as Benji lives with a painful long-term condition affecting his gut. In undertaking this challenge, he set out to raise thousands of pounds for a charity that raises climate change awareness.

After reaching Upernavik in Greenland, Benji sent a video update looking back at his 90 days on the boat.

Since setting sail at the beginning of July, Benji has also been writing for ITV News about his remarkable journey, here are his latest updates..

  • Wednesday 14th September

I hate this part of a journey. Yesterday as I came off watch we were scheduled to arrive about midnight tonight. I detest that anyway because you get the so close yet so far feeling.

Typically as I came off watch the wind picked up, moved to an unhelpful angle and created the worst sea state we've had since the Chuckchi Sea. We're still supposed to arrive about two in the morning but it will make the next twenty-two hours really horrible. Not that our arrival time mattes too much, we can't go in till it's light anyway.

Benji on watch during the expedition. Credit: Polar Ocean Challenge

I don't think I've talked about who's getting on and off in Upernavik. I'm not, obviously, Dad's not and Nikolai's not. The rest, David, Johan, Barbara and Constance are.

In Upernavik we're meeting my Mum, a man who project managed the entire refit of Northabout called Colin Walker and his wife Alison and Frances Gard, the energetic camerawoman. All of us are then sailing down Greenland to its capital, Nuuk.

After that everyone gets off except me and Dad and the Atlantic Crew get on. I don't know any of them so it'll be odd, especially since Dad gets off in Quatorq, in the south of Greenland. After that it's back to Bristol. It's odd thinking that I'm well over three quarters of the way home. It still feels like a very long way off.

Benji looks out to sea during the journey. Credit: Polar Ocean Challenge
  • Tuesday 13th September

The North West Passage is over! We've done it! The trip isn't over yet but the difficult part is. While we aren't done with the trip yet it does put quite a few records to our names.

Nikolai's the first skipper to do both passages twice, David and I are the first Brits to do both passages in one season and Constance and Barbara are the first women from their respective countries to do the same.

Rather sadly however I just feel like we've crossed a line we drew on the chart plotter, which is of course exactly what we have done. It's not the end that really completes the voyage in my opinion. You don't really feel like you're done until you're in port. Luckily for us we'll be in port in a couple of days. Our eight knot over the ground speed was sadly broken as we left the passage and we've had to reduce to six knots. Sad, but there's nothing we can do about it.

Last night we didn't see any ice but because of my last encounter I was jumping at everything that looked white, waves breaking, sails and so on. Gladly we didn't hit any ice. Or even see any ice.

We are now past the pack ice area and into iceberg land. We saw a few in my morning watch yesterday but I hope to see more. I can't wait to get to Upernavik. With luck that'll be early on the day after tomorrow. Bye.

  • Sunday 11th September

We're through the Bellot Strait! It's an almost completely straight passage between two islands lasting 18 miles and cutting a huge section off the journey. It almost always has ice in it but as we went through today it was completely clear.

It's odd, hundreds of people died trying to find the North West Passage. Caught by ice and storms they either froze or were shipwrecked. And we went through seeing a grand total of seven floating ice chunks. If I hadn't already been through the North East Passage I might wonder what all the fuss was about. A grim testament to greenhouse gases.

Benji pictured as the team make their way through the Bellot Strait. Credit: Polar Ocean Challenge

The strait is very odd, the surrounding geography suggests that it really shouldn't be there. I suppose it's like phosphorescent algae, it doesn't care about normal. Now that we're through there something would have to go really spectacularly wrong for us to fail to complete the trip. There is still time though. There's some ice north of us that we might have to go through. Hopefully not though.

While we were in the strait we put the drone up. The Father was flying, he's much better than me so it seemed sensible. When he first took off things went wrong immediately. Because we were moving he had to get the drone away from the boat as quickly as possible. He didn't manage to and the drone collided with the windshield in front of the cockpit.

The rotors smashed themselves to pieces and the drone upended itself on the deck. Not a good start. Very luckily non of the motors were damaged enough to stop it flying so we put some new rotors on and took it up.

The Father managed to get it away from the boat this time. He got some really good footage and we managed to get it back on the boat safely. All in all, a success. I'm afraid sleep is calling so I'll go now. I'll write again soon. Not long till the Passage is over, bye.