Cowichan man prepares for Viking adventure

Jason Macleod will take part in voyage highlighting sustainability

The Cowichan Valley’s Jason Macleod is beginning an adventure of a lifetime in January.

Macleod, a nurse who works in critical care at Cowichan District Hospital, is joining 11 other specially picked crew members to embark on a voyage on a newly built Viking replica ship to spread the message of sustainable living around the globe.

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Called the Midgard Expedition and led by explorer Bjørn Heyerdahl, grandson of the Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, Macleod and the crew will board the new, sustainably built research vessel RV Midgard Herron in June in South Africa.

The crew will spend several weeks exploring projects and visiting communities that are working and living in environmentally sustainable ways in Lesotho, Durban and Cape Town.

The Midgard Herron will then be barged to Norway and, starting in Oslo in June, the ship and crew will trace the original Viking routes across the North Sea to the Orkneys, Ireland, England, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea and end up in the Black Sea, drawing attention to sustainable projects and communities all along the way.

“Basically, we’re a group of people on a Viking ship that will be highlighting and showcasing people, places and communities that have successfully implemented sustainable practices, like the Vikings did,” Macleod said.

“The types of projects we’ll be looking at include regenerative farming, water sequestration and the replanting of forests. There is currently a lot of talk about making changes in the world in regards to the climate, like getting away from using fossil fuels, but a lot of people say that it’s too difficult, the technologies are unproven and some even question if we need to do anything at all. We’re going to show not only that it’s possible, but that it’s being done.”

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The 12 members of the crew were carefully chosen for their skills and what they can add to the expedition.

The Midgard Herron’s crew includes a navigator, ship builder, divers, professional explorers and Macleod as the medic, whose job will be to patch up those who are hurt and generally keep the crew alive through the hazards of ocean travel and extreme weather exposure in an open vessel.

Macleod also brings many other talents and strengths to the expedition.

As well as being a critical care nurse, he spent 14 years as a wilderness first-aid instructor with Wilderness Medical Associates, he is an experienced adventure guide, whitewater raft guide, a scuba dive master and has already traveled and explored Canada, the U.S., Central America, Australia, New Zealand and much of Europe.

As for the funding of the expedition, Macleod said a lot of it is coming from donations (which can be made at https://midgard-expedition.causevox.com), but there are a number of corporate sponsors as well.

He said South Africa’s Earth Touch News Network will be working on a documentary during the journey, and people can follow along with the adventure on the expedition’s website.

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Macleod said he decided to be part of the expedition because he has always loved adventure and, more importantly, he wants to help make a positive impact on the planet by advocating for sustainable lifestyles.

“We are not treating our natural environment well, so I’m always in search of other options and highlighting them,” he said.

“I live in a beautiful area and I have two young daughters (Safire, 5, and Yemaya, 2), and I want to ensure my daughters will have a beautiful planet to live on as well.”

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