Jock Wishart and crew rely on Raymarine

Oarsmen make history as world’s first oarsmen to row to Magnetic North Pole*

September 2011

Jock Wishart and his five fellow oarsmen have achieved a world first by rowing 450 miles to reach the recognised (1996) position of the magnetic North Pole*. The ‘Old Pulteney Row to the Pole’ was an extreme feat of endurance, as the team rowed the specially designed ‘ice boat’ equipped with Raymarine’s safety, communications and navigational equipment to arrive at the Magnetic North Pole’s certified position of 78° 35.7N 104° 11.9W at 1230am GMT on 26th August 2011.

Jock said, “The equipment from Raymarine proved to be absolutely essential. Of particular value was the Thermal Imaging Camera, which enabled us to reveal semi-submerged growlers. This was vital during the toughest 36 hour push to the Pole. We encountered so much ice along that stretch and we really needed to be able to spot the hazards and the ice ahead as we made the final leg to the Pole.”

Raymarine’s Thermal Imaging Cameras, engineered with FLIR technology, sense the thermal energy transmitted, in this case, by icebergs and use infra-red technology to detect otherwise invisible hazards. This, combined with the Raymarine suite of electronics which showed position, route, and distance to go enabled the crew to plot the best route, but ensured it was the safest avoiding the many hazards in the way.

“At the end of the day,” said a jubilant Jock from the extraction point in the Arctic prior to returning to the expedition base at Resolute Bay, “This has been probably one of the most daunting and challenging ocean rowing expeditions ever undertaken, and without using the navigational and safety equipment from Raymarine, our chances of success would have been much lower.

At all times during our four-week-long adventure, we were able to see exactly where we were in relation to the Pole as well as the route and distance to get there. Raymarine has supported my past endeavours and it was fantastic to have such reliable and advanced technology onboard for this challenge. Most people thought it was impossible, but we have done it!”

The voyage has been the challenge of a lifetime for Jock and his crew, as they steered the small ‘Old Pulteney’ ice boat through ice-strewn seas. The open water is frequently filled with ice bergs and floating ice, and the team had to wait and watch the weather and ice blocking their way as Arctic ice closed in, threatening to put the expedition in jeopardy.

Throughout the journey, the crew worked with scientific research partners to deliver fresh environmental data into the impact of Arctic deterioration on the polar landscape. They have also used the opportunity to study wildlife, having had close encounters with some of the Arctic’s most impressive species, including beluga whales, walrus and polar bears.

The intrepid team lived for almost a month on the compact, specially designed ice-boat the ‘Old Pulteney’, sleeping in shifts between grueling rowing stints and surviving on 7000 calorie-per day dry rations. The detail and drama of their four-week adventure has been captured by a BBC cameraman for a documentary on the expedition.

For most of the voyage the crew has rowed through open water, taking advantage of favourable weather to make good headway, however the real challenge lay in the second and most significant part of the expedition – rowing all the way across to Ellef Ringnes Island. In the last few weeks of summer this area was the last to melt and break up, so the crew was confronted with both solid and floating sea ice which they painstakingly picked their way through using the Raymarine FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera, with the last part of their journey being a race against time as the ice closed in.

Part of the reason for undertaking the challenge was to raise awareness of the dramatic effect of climate change on the ice around the Polar regions, and the team were able to gather important environmental data and study wildlife during the voyage. Due to the recent increase in seasonal ice melt in the Polar region, the team were able to row through waters which are open for just a few weeks each year.

This was the first Arctic rowing expedition since Sir Ernest Shackleton ordered his ship’s crew to their rowing boats to save their lives in Antarctica in 1916. It is the first time that a team has ever rowed to a Polar position.

*The Magnetic North Pole:
The Magnetic North Pole’s certified position was established in 1996. The position is 78°35.7N 104°11.9W. Since then, this 1996 certified position has become an established expedition objective for Arctic expeditions and adventures. The biennial Polar Race takes place between Resolute Bay in northern Canada and the 1996-certified location of the North Magnetic Pole. 

About FLIR Systems

FLIR Systems, Inc. is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of sensor systems that enhance perception and awareness. FLIR's advanced systems and components are used for a wide variety of thermal imaging, situational awareness, and security applications, including airborne and ground-based surveillance, condition monitoring, navigation, recreation, research and development, manufacturing process control, search and rescue, drug interdiction, transportation safety, border and maritime patrol, environmental monitoring, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) threat detection. For more information, visit FLIR’s web site at


About Raymarine:

Raymarine, a world leader in marine electronics, develops and manufactures the most comprehensive range of electronic equipment for the recreational boating and light commercial marine markets. Designed for high performance and ease of use, the award-winning products are available through a global network of dealers and distributors.

The Raymarine product lines include radar, autopilots, GPS, instruments, fishfinders, communications, and integrated systems. Headquartered in Fareham UK, Raymarine is a division of FLIR Systems, a world leader in thermal imaging. For more information about Raymarine please go to

For further information contact Haley Ellison – FLIR Systems Tel: +1 503/919-0696 or email: For high resolution images please go to