September 30, 2013

Struth! Ready Teddy Go!

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that growing in popularity in the United States is Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day – celebrated annually by lovers of these cute and cuddly little companions on October 11th.

Devotees dress their Teddy Bears to the nines, take them to lunch with colleagues who've also taken Teddy to work for the day, and where possible even organise special projects that Teddy can take part in.

Teddy Bears, by the way, came about after US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was nick-named Teddy, was on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902. He was the only member of the group not to track and shoot a bear, so another member clubbed a small black bear and tied it to a tree – inviting Roosevelt to shoot it.

The President refused, saying it was unsportsmanlike, and asking another hunter to put the animal out of its misery. The incident was made into a political cartoon in The Washington Post that won Roosevelt considerable praise for his humanity, with cartoonist Clifford Berryman following-up with cartoons showing a smaller and cuter bear.

New York candy store owners  Morris and Rose Michtom saw one of the cartoons, and made a similar-looking small stuffed bear that they put in their Brooklyn shop window with a sign reading "Teddy's bear."

To their surprise a dozen passers-by asked to buy the little "Teddy's bear" in just one day, so the Michtoms made them one each, and the rest as they say, is history.


Photo caption:

[] ONE of the world's first Teddy Bears now displayed at V&A Museum of Childhood,




September 23, 2013

Struth! Presidential baggage beneath Waldorf Astoria a myth

  IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says train buffs searching out that mystery or historic piece of railway paraphernalia, still seek ways today to (illegally) slip down to an abandoned rail platform under New York's swish Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Because down there they find themselves in what is still officially part of Grand Central Rail Terminal – and at a platform a three-quarter-century old rail baggage car that for decades was wrongly thought to be the one-time armour-plated personal carriage of President Franklin D Roosevelt.

Platform 61 was built in 1913, abandoned only a few years later as surplus to need, and when the Waldorf Astoria was built above it in 1931, re-opened for use by wealthy VIP guests who – as was the fashion at the time – owned their own luxury rail carriages.

The wheelchair-bound President Roosevelt, who had polio in his later years, used Platform 61 in October 1941 to get into the hotel, complete with his armour-plated motor car that was taken by special car-elevator up to street level.

The custom-made Roosevelt carriage was built with 2cm thick armour-plating on floors and sides, 7.5cm thick bullet-proof glass windows, and even had machine-gun ports; it is now displayed at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida – putting a lie to the myth that it lays rusting-away under the Waldorf Astoria.



[] ONE-TIME Presidential carriage at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami today.

[] RAIL baggage car under New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel that was long believed

   (mistakenly) to be Franklin D Roosevelt's Presidential carriage.


(Photos: Wikimedia)


September 16, 2013

Struth! United we stand

 IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says United Airlines, America's second largest carrier, is licking its wounds after accidentally giving away hundreds – or possibly even more – air tickets by mistake last Thursday.

Social media went into overdrive when intending passengers booking flights online discovered they were being charged $0 for their journeys, paying only US$2.50 to $10 for airport Security Fees.

One man snapped up six tickets to take his family from Chicago to Los Angeles for the weekend, paying just $60 in fees and no $2,400 airfare, a New Yorker booked a weekend away in Honolulu for the $10 in Security Fees and no regular $689 fare for the 8000km flight, and a quick-acting Houston woman a mere $5 Fees for a return ticket at Christmas to see her parents 2000km away in Washington DC – something that would normally have cost her close to $500.

United won't say how many tickets it gave away in the 15 minutes before it discovered Thursday's error, which it said was a human mistake during loading of fares into its computer system.

And in an unusual gesture of goodwill, rather than challenge those still holding tickets, the airline announced it would honour all tickets bought during the hiccup – irrespective of whether for travel in the short term, or for months down the track.

Tolmer's Tale: Saving Adelaide from ruin

David Ellis

STRANGE as it may sound, Adelaide as we know it today may well have never come about had it not been for the achievements in the 1850s of a resourceful Police Commissioner who not only saved the city from bankruptcy, but also the potential abandonment of the entire fledgling colony of South Australia.

And yet despite such seeming heroics, not only was he never accorded any official recognition, rather he was demoted and ultimately sacked.

It was only a public Testimonial with funds given by appreciative South Australian businessmen and others that accorded him any praise at all – while now, 123 years after his death, a winery in the State's famed Coonawarra is giving fresh kudos to his deeds by naming a ripper new drop of red after him.

Alexander Tolmer was born in England in 1815, ran away to sea as a teenager, fought in Portugal's Civil War, and once back home joined the 16th British Lancers… all by the time he was 17. But he quit the Lancers after a few years too, and in 1840 with wife and son sailed to far-off South Australia, where his cavalry skills saw his quick appointment as a Sub-Inspector of Police to establish a much-needed Mounted Police Branch.

He and his men quickly threw themselves with gusto into hunting down cattle thieves, bushrangers and sly-grog makers, while also settling land disputes between squabbling settlers and Aborigines; so successful was he in fact, that in just twelve years he was appointed Commissioner of Police.

But the colony by then was in deep financial trouble. With the discovery of gold in Victoria, 20,000 men (most of the male population) had fled Adelaide for the goldfields, and with no workers farms and coal mines closed, shops and other businesses tacked "Gone to the Diggings" signs to locked doors, and the fledgling colony's banks were drained of deposits as hopefuls withdrew whatever they had to take to Victoria.

Repayments to banks for business and housing loans collapsed, and one observer summed-up Adelaide as "a ghost town resembling the cities of Southern Europe during siesta."

It was then that Commissioner Tolmer had a brilliant idea. Why not provide a gold escort service to safely bring back to South Australia the gold that miners were winning from the ground in Victoria, so that instead of it going into the banks of Victoria, it would revitalise the South Australian economy?

Governor Sir Henry Young enthusiastically agreed, and a month later Tolmer and a party of mounted troopers set off with a sturdy spring-cart for the near-600km journey to the diggings at Mt Alexander outside Bendigo, arriving there just ten days later.

Within a day of setting up camp, Tolmer and his party had accepted gold from a near-300 South Australian miners, and when after several more days they felt their spring-cart could carry no more, they departed for Adelaide with 5,200 ounces of gold worth an estimated 18,356 pounds ($36,712,) a then-precious fortune.

And over the next two years a total of eighteen "gold escorts" brought an amazing 28,502 ounces, or almost ten tons, of gold from Bendigo back to Adelaide. It was valued at the time at 1,182,000 pounds ($2,364,000) and was enough to avert both the threat of Adelaide's bankruptcy and the abandonment of the Colony of South Australia – prospects already in consideration in the highest quarters.

But while Commissioner Tolmer's ingenious scheme had saved Adelaide and South Australia, his absences leading the first few gold escorts had seen management of the Police Force collapse into disarray. Enemies, and he had plenty with his renowned short-fused temper, plotted against him, and were joined by those from Adelaide society's Old Boys' Network miffed at the up-start Tolmer's appointment as Police Commissioner in the first place.

Within months they had him demoted and then dismissed, accused of neglect of duty.

Tolmer subsequently dabbled in several other government appointments, and even unsuccessfully tried his hand on the land. He died of kidney disease aged 74, and was buried in a pauper's grave at South Australia's Mitcham Anglican Cemetery.

Coonawarra's Penley Estate has now released a premium 2010 Tolmer Cabernet Sauvignon in recognition of "the extraordinary feats of an extraordinary man in saving Adelaide from bankruptcy." Details on (08) 8363 or


[1] ADELAIDE's picturesque streetscapes of today could have been vastly different had it not have been for Commissioner Alexander Tolmer. (South Australia State Library.)
[2] SAVED Adelaide from bankruptcy, and died a pauper – Alexander Tolmer. (South Australia Police Historical Society.)
[3] ONE of many signs and markers along the route of the Gold Escorts from Mt Alexander near Bendigo to Adelaide. (Monument Australia.)
[4] TYPICAL busy 1850's goldfields scene in Victoria. (Victoria State Library.)
[5] A CROWD gathers to watch as police gather gold (in boxes on footpath) in 1850s.
     (Museum of Victoria.)
[6] 123 years after his death, Alexander Tolmer's grand achievements are recognised
      today in this Penley Estate Tolmer Cabernet Sauvignon. (Penley Estate.)
[7] VISITORS can raise a glass to Alexander Tolmer at the modern Cellar Door at
     Penley Estate in South Australia's famed Coonawarra. (Penley Estate.)
[8] ALEXANDER  Tolmer in uniform at the time he created the Gold Escorts. (South
     Australia Police Historical Society.)

September 14, 2013

The resort that never opened: Sheraton Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Around the world there are numerous tales of failed hotel projects, but in the South Pacific at least, this is a celebrated case. If 'celebrated' is the right word. Some say the grounds are cursed. It's certainly one of the most famous deserted places.

(c) Roderick Eime

The project was kicked off by a shady Italian who managed to enlist numerous backers. He seduced the tiny island nation of the Cook Islands and the project ran wildly over budget.

(c) Roderick Eime

Building works were invoiced and paid, but never actually completed.

 Hilton were brought in at one stage, but their attempt also stalled.(c) Roderick Eime

And the backers and insurers eventually said, "enough" and stopped all the funds when the place was within a whisker of opening. Several attempts to restart the project have all failed.  The last work to be done was around 1993. In 2014, a NZ company proposed to resurrect the complex.

 Bathrooms were tiled and fitted out. Air conditioning wired and installed.(c) Roderick Eime

 Some rooms were even furnished to 'lock up' stage.(c) Roderick Eime

 Some 200 rooms were constructed. A few are occupied
by careful squatters, others by gangs, the rest are just ruins.(c) Roderick Eime

 Windows broken and open to the elements.(c) Roderick Eime

 Nature reclaiming the common walkways and corridors.(c) Roderick Eime

 Once almost ready to receive guests, now just hosting weeds and debris.(c) Roderick Eime

 The main reception area.(c) Roderick Eime

 This wing is where the gangs have their headquarters. Don't go in there.(c) Roderick Eime

 Under the main reception building.(c) Roderick Eime

 Out onto the expansive central courtyard, gardens and pool.(c) Roderick Eime

(c) Roderick Eime

 Auxiliary buildings at rear. Maybe laundry or something?(c) Roderick Eime

Offices in a shambles.(c) Roderick Eime

A true 'Heartbreak Hotel' (c) Roderick Eime

Four-legged guests now patrol the grounds.(c) Roderick Eime

(c) Roderick Eime

September 10, 2013

Struth! Juvenile Boobies too much for Facebook

Inline images 1
IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says the Christmas Island Tourism Association and birdwatchers are crying foul over Facebook's refusal to run an advertisement for the annual Christmas Island Bird & Nature Week that this year, according to the ad, "would feature juvenile boobies."

A horrified Facebook rejected the advertisement on the grounds that the site "did not allow the use of profane, vulgar, obscene or unlawful language," despite the association's protestations that "juvenile boobies" were simply the young of breeds of seabird, including some that nest no-where else in the world than on Christmas Island.

But while birdwatchers and Christmas Islanders were getting into a flap, Facebook remained unruffled: a spokesman maintained that the proposed advertisement "crossed the threshold we are comfortable with by using the reference to juvenile boobies – even if they were referring to birds" (and which STRUTH believes they should have clarified even further as referring to avian, rather than possibly, err, human 'birds.')

And when Facebook said it would agree to run the advertisement if the word "juvenile" was removed, it was somewhat too late: the week-long Christmas Island Bird & Nature Week, that's held in the first week of September every year, had come and gone.

What a boo-boo.


September 09, 2013

Walk with the Lions of Africa



David Ellis


TAKING the dog for a walk isn't quite what it used to be: she's had her hackles up ever since springing us showing friends a video of a walk we had with a cat.


But try explaining to a highly-sensitive miniature poodle who's got a half dozen other breeds mangled through her genes, together with an intellect she believes is superior to ours, that the cat you were walking with was in fact Panthera Leo – the African Lion – and that she should therefore look up to us in admiration of our bravery and daring, and all we get are scowls of disdain.


To her we are simply wimps who not only went for a walk with a cat, but worse still had to have guides with us to do so, and great big sticks in case kitty decided to get frisky. Panthera Leo, African Lion, call it what you will, but to our pooch it was a cat – OK a big cat, but still just a cat.


So we've accepted it's little wonder she's got her hackles up as she wrestles with her new-found situation of living with those who are scared of cats.


But while she sulks, at least human friends and family marvel at our perceived courage: it's not every day one goes for a walk in the African bush with an unleashed lion at their side, and we're going to dine out on it for as long as we can.


Lion Encounter where we engaged in this bravado is an extraordinary conservation program in Zimbabwe helping to re-build numbers of the African lion, whose population across the continent has plunged from 200,000 in 1980, to under 30,000 today – with Kenya, experts fear, having no lions left in the wild in five years.


The reasons are many: hunting, human encroachment by way of cities and farms into the one-time domains of these kings of the jungle, feline AIDS and feline TB, and a testicular disease that's dramatically slashed male lion's breeding rates.


And bizarrely that lions are actually bad mothers: they'll readily abandon sick and weaker cubs, leaving them to die or fall victim to other beasts.


Lion Encounter is part of the larger African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program, that raises young cubs found sick or abandoned in the bush, or which are specially bred for the program at Zimbabwe's Antelope Park lion breeding centre.


The cubs spend their first three to eighteen months at Lion Encounter, just outside Victoria Falls township, being taken out daily into the bush with staff and paying-visitors to become familiar with their natural environment, and to develop and hone stalking and hunting skills.


And amazingly the cubs accept their human companions as being part of the pride, those behind the scheme pointing out the important role of visitors in both helping the young animals become used to their surrounds while daily refining their natural predator instincts, and in also contributing much-needed funds for the maintenance of the program.


Last year alone over 10,000 visitors – fifteen per cent of them from Australia – took part in a "Walk with the Lions" at Lion Encounter.


When they reach 18 months the young lions are moved to a 400ha enclosed "safe zone" with no human contact, and after a year there learning to live by their wits (and with occasional supplemental carcass droppings to help them along,) are moved as a pride to yet another much larger bush area where they will spend the rest of their lives in the wild.


Their cubs in turn will come up in a totally natural environment, and when mature enough be trapped and relocated to other parts of Africa needing to re-stock their depleted wild lion populations.


Two lions we walked with at Lion Encounter, sisters Thuli and Thembi, reach 18 months of age this month, and will be moved to the 400ha "safe zone," and their eventual cubs relocated in several years' time to where they will be needed,


And new cubs will be recruited into the Lion Encounter "Walking with the Lions" program, where the whole cycle will begin all over again.


For more information about holidaying in Africa and Walking with the Lions, contact Bench International on toll-free 1300AFRICA or go to






[1] THULI and Thembi await their daily walk with visitors at Africa's "Walking with the


[2] THE writer takes his first tentative touchy-touchy with Thuli – an 18 months old

     veteran who's done it all before.

[3] LION Encounter's rangers obligingly take photos with visitor's cameras on their

     day "Walking with the Lions.

[4] THE writer with his wife Gwenda get up-close with Thuli – or was it Thembi?

[5] AND she leads them off on their never-to-be-forgotten "Walking with the Lions."


(Photos: David Ellis – with help from Lion Encounter's ever-obliging guides.) 


September 08, 2013

Wild Bill Hickock, a Deadwood Calamity

David Ellis

ONCE one of the shootin'est places in America's West, Deadwood in the famed Black Hills of South Dakota has a population today of just 1,280, yet over 80 gambling casinos.

And it's got a cemetery whose 3,600 graves draw 100,000-something aficionados of the Wild West every year, many just to see those of one-time lawman James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock, and next to him, at her request, Martha Jane "Calamity Jane" Cannary. Neither of whom in real life, however, quite matched Doris Day's almost-prim version of Calamity, or the clean-cut Howard Keel's law-abiding Wild Bill in 1953 Hollywood's  Calamity Jane.

Wild Bill and Calamity had arrived at Deadwood on the same day in July 1876, Bill with his mate "Colorado Charlie" Utter, and Jane with some ladies of doubtful repute. They'd travelled aboard a 30-piece wagon train of over 200 prospectors, gamblers and prostitutes as 30,000 hopefuls flocked to the Black Hills to stake claims over gold discovered there a year earlier.

And no longer a lawman after one too many dubious shoot-outs – he had 36 legal and more-questionable notches on his gun-belt – Wild Bill was now a professional gambler, with intentions on relieving the miners of some of the gold that was being dug out of the Black Hills at an incredible $10,000 worth a day… around $1m a week today.

And Martha Jane Cannary quickly proved how she was anything but Doris Day's pretty "Indian scout" Calamity Jane. Rather she was a gun-totin', masculine-looking alcoholic who dressed like a man, shot-out the lights of saloons and gambling halls for kicks, cussed better than any trooper, and worked some of Deadwood's cheaper brothels when in need of cash and whiskey.

Calamity was also madly attracted to Wild Bill, and although he did not reciprocate her attentions, and knowing he had left a 50-year old new bride in Wyoming to seek his fortune at Deadwood's gaming tables, she bizarrely boasted to friends that she and Bill were secretly married, and shared a daughter.

It was pure fiction, as were the many other claims she made of her adventurous life as a frontierswoman, Indian scout, bull wrangler, stage-coach driver and countless similarly more-masculine pursuits. Even Deadwood's Black Hills Pioneer  headlined her arrival there with "Calamity Jane Has Arrived!"

(Just how she got her nickname is unclear, but the most-accepted explanation is that with her quick temper, foul mouth and itchy trigger-finger, men were said to be "courting calamity" if they crossed her.)

And as she lay dying at 53 years of age from the effects of the booze and venereal disease in Terry, South Dakota in1903, Calamity Jane's last wish was that her grave be next to Wild Bill in Deadwood's cemetery – where he'd been buried 27 years earlier after being shot dead in a card game.

His killing had been at the hands of a drunken hoodlum named Jack McCall whom Bill had cleaned-out at a game the day before.

But when he'd gone into Deadwood's No. 10 Saloon on August 2 1876 and the only available chair had its back to the door, rather than his favoured back to the wall, Bill initially declined a game.

When finally convinced to join-in, he'd played just a few hands when McCall lurched through the batwing doors, screamed "Damn you!" and shot Wild Bill point-blank through the head… his pair of black aces and pair of black eights spilled to the floor, and to this day are known as "the deadman's hand."

McCall was captured hiding in a butcher's shop, and put before a hastily formed jury who acquitted him after he claimed it was retribution for Hickock having earlier killed his brother – but when he repeatedly boasted his crime, he was re-arrested, re-tried and hanged.

Visitors to Deadwood today find the town much as it was in Wild Bill and Calamity Jane's day, thanks largely to legislation in 1989 making Deadwood a gambling mecca, with millions of dollars in funds from its 80+ casinos being used to restore and re-open dilapidated 19th and 20th century buildings, and promote a thriving tourism industry.

If you are interested in visiting Deadwood, which is recognised on America's National Historical Register "for the accurate restoration of its past," see travel agents or visit


[1] DEADWOOD as it was in its 1888 Wild West heyday. (Shorpy Historic Photos Archives)
[2] TODAY Deadwood is home to just 1,280 folk amid 80+ casinos. (Shorpy Historic Photos Archives)
[3] NOW empty, the one-time No 10 Saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot playing cards. (Cathy Huffman)
[4] GRAVES of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane – bizarrely side-by-side at her request (her's to the right of photo.) (Deadwood Chamber of Commerce)
[5] CALAMITY Jane was not quite the pretty Doris Day. (Deadwood Chamber of Commerce)
[6] WILD Bill Hickock – he had 36 notches on his gun belt, legal and more questionable. (Deadwood Chamber of Commerce) 
[7] DEADMAN'S Hand: Wild Bill's last fatal hand at the card table. (Gaming Magazine)  

September 02, 2013

Man finds fortune in unclaimed luggage

David Ellis

BACK in 1970 an entrepreneurial Doyle Owens borrowed a mate's utility and $300 and went off to the Trailways Bus Lines depot in Washington DC in America, where they were selling off piles of clothes and books, cameras and backpacks, sports-goods and jewellery, and even whole suitcases of clothes left unclaimed by passengers from its road coaches and in city terminals.

He bought as much as he could with his $300, advertised a garage sale and sold the lot – for a nice profit. And when another sale came up, he bought-up just about everything they had, resigned from his insurance company job, and started full-time buying and re-selling "lost property" left on trains, planes, coaches and in hotels, across America.

Today his Unclaimed Baggage Centre (UBC) turns-over millions of dollars-worth of unclaimed and lost property every year in its UBC Department Store in the town of Scottsboro in Alabama, and also donates hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth to charities world-wide.

And they're never short of stuff for replenishing shelves, clothing racks, jewellery and electronics counters: although only a fraction of one-percent of travellers' luggage, carry-on and other items are never re-united with their owners, that fraction still amounts to hundreds of thousands of items every year.

UBC estimates that in the United States 80 to 90% of travellers' "lost" bags and other items are returned to owners within 24 hours of being reported missing, and 95 to 98% within five days.

After three months the remainder – together with personal items left in seat pockets, overhead racks and bins, under seats or in hotel rooms – and deemed impossible to connect with their owners, are sold to UBC… who guarantee to buy the lot, sight unseen and by the truck-load.

And it's not just luggage (most of which goes missing through poor or no identification) or thousands of sunglasses, mobile phones, books, laptops, jewellery, DVDs, watches and cameras that forgetful travellers leave behind.

Let UBC start talking and you could wonder if they're having you on… but the company's vast Unclaimed Baggage Centre that's two-thirds the size of a football field, is proof as to just how weird are things that some people travel with.

As well as tens of thousands of "regular" items like those above, others unclaimed have included glass eyes, prosthetic arms and legs, wigs and toupees, false teeth, human medical specimens – and sex toys.

Raunchy female underwear and mens' Y-fronts are regular finds in airline toilets, making one wonder what fellow travellers have either been up to, or have in mind, while single shoes have been found under plenty of seats – and on one flight a single Dutch clog – which again makes one wonder how you could get off a plane wearing one shoe.

Pets too are regularly left unclaimed after being carried either in baggage holds or in pet-carriers in passenger compartments, with caged parrots, an agitated falcon, tortoises, a frog and a live rattlesnake left on baggage carousels… and on one flight, a live monkey dressed-up in a doggy Santa suit was discovered in a pet-carrier left under an aircraft seat.

A hand-written marriage proposal was found in the back of a seat after passengers had left one flight, wedding dresses are regularly left on baggage carousels, and never claimed from one flight was a complete suit of armour… and another a double bass.

Staff found a bag of diamonds in one airline First Class seat, a box of dried fish, a bag of onions and a single boiled egg in other seats… even a portable Missile Guidance System (that was returned to the US Air Force.)

And under a seat in which a star of Charlie's Angels had flown on yet another flight, a script for an upcoming episode…

All clothing found in suitcases and elsewhere is laundered or dry-cleaned before going on sale at UBC's sprawling Alabama store, technicians erase whatever's found on unclaimed computers, fine jewellery is professionally cleaned, and slightly-damaged goods are repaired.

Then it all (an amazing 7,000 new items a day) goes up for sale at 20 to 80% below retail to UBC's near-million bargain-hunters a year – and what doesn't sell after a reasonable time is given to charity to make way for more stuff left behind by the forgetful.



[1] ALTHOUGH it looks tagged, this is actually lost luggage with the tags put on by  airline staff who re-unite 95 to 98% of "lost" luggage with owners within 5 days. 
[2] AND in America what's not re-united goes here – 7,000 items of it a day.
[3] INSIDE the Unclaimed Baggage Centre on an average day: a million bargain-hunters pour  through the store annually.
[4] LADIES pants by the truckload are just some of the attractions.
[5] AND jewellery by the counter-full sells at 20 to 80% below normal retail.
[6] SHOES, shoes and more shoes left on trains, planes and in hotel rooms.
[7] KEEN bargain hunters camp overnight for the annual Winter Ski Wear Sales.
[8] AND rush clothing racks for super-bargains on Ski Wear Sales Day.

(Images: Unclaimed Baggage Centre)



Struth! Just gone fishing ... for 13 years

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says while plenty of bottles have been re-united with those who've tossed them overboard from ships many years before, in Canada a family's been re-united with their 6m half-cabin fishing boat that was blown out to sea in a storm an amazing thirteen years ago.

And despite presumably drifting around the Arctic's waters and possibly beaching-up on occasion over all that time, remarkably it was found to be in almost near-perfect working order.

Members of the Evaluarjuk family on the Melville Peninsula of Canada's far north, had taken the boat on a caribou-hunting trip in 2000, and while camped overnight the small vessel had been blown out to sea during a sudden fierce storm; after a fruitless search, it was written off as lost forever.

But last year polar bear researchers saw something shining on an uninhabited Arctic island, and on investigating found it was a 6m half-cabin fishing boat. They reported their find, and on hearing of it the Evaluarjuk's sought to go in search, but were thwarted by the onset of the 2012 northern winter.

Then finally just last month they got to the remote island, and found that it was indeed their boat – and that its hull, steering equipment and even motors were in near-perfect condition after all those years, the only real damage some windows smashed-in by, they believe, inquisitive polar bears.



ELIJAH Evaluarjuk re-united with his family's fishing boat that had gone missing off far northern Canada for 13 years. (Photo: courtesy Evaluarjuk family.)


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