In 2002 Dr. Geoffrey E. Clark of Portsmouth NH founded Cocked Hat Ventures LLC, an independent film production company focusing on projects related to arctic exploration. Cocked Hat Ventures is currently seeking U.S and international distribution for its HD film, "Abandoned in the Arctic." The film is a compelling account of the most tragic episode in the history of arctic exploration - Lt. Adolphus W. Greely's ill-fated, Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881.
"Abandoned" has been completed in two forms; a two hour, two episode version, and a ninety minute feature film. Both versions were made in collaboration with Boston Science Communications, Inc. which has produced numerous award winning documentaries for PBS, NOVA, A&E, and Discovery Channel. Cocked Hat Ventures is currently considering other arctic related projects.
The Story Behind "Cocked Hat Ventures"
In 1988 Dr. Geoffrey E. Clark of Portsmouth NH traveled with his family to Canada's northernmost Ellesmere Island and the ruins of Ft. Conger, just 450 miles from the North Pole. It was here that Dr. Clark first learned of Lt. Adolphus W. Greely and the refuted Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-1884.
Ft. Conger was originally built by Lt. Greely and his 24 men as a base station for conducting scientific experiments during the First International Polar Year expedition of 1881. After a challenging but successful year of scientific work and arctic exploration, during which they claimed the title of "Farthest North" from the British, the men were looking forward to a promised supply ship. It never arrived and the men were forced to winter over another year. The next summer also passed with no relief ship to return them to the U.S. Then in the autumn of 1883, Greely fell back on a pre-arranged plan to retreat 250 miles south to Cape Sabine. It was here the men hoped to retrieve a promised cache of food and equipment which they anticipated would last until the spring of 1884, when they were sure to be rescued. Greely's fateful decision has since become the heart of a controversy that exists to this day.
The expedition's retreat, in small open boats, over frigid water and moving ice took two months and proved to be harrowing beyond belief. Exhausted and barely alive, the Greely party first tried to land on tiny, Cocked Hat Island, but the men were pushed by ice and wind to the shores of nearby Cape Sabine. To their dismay no cache of food was found and the men were forced to spend the winter of 1883-1884 with virtually no food or equipment, in the most wretched conditions imaginable.
That cruel winter, nineteen men died, unaware of the political intrigue and incompetence surrounding their attempted rescue by two separate expeditions. The fact that six men survived at all was a testament to Lt. Greely's extraordinary intelligence, compassion and leadership. But the story didn't end with their rescue. Greely and his men returned as heroes, but were trailed for the rest of their lives by the ghosts of rumor and innuendo, of murder and cannibalism.
The Greely expedition proved to be the most tragic episode in the history of Arctic exploration. Dr. Clark believed that the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition's remarkable story of endurance, heroism and human frailty needed to be told in full. Used as a land-mark by Greely and other explorers, the tiny, hat shaped island called Cocked Hat became a symbol and logo for Dr. Clark's new production company - Cocked Hat Ventures LLC.
Cocked Hat Ventures Contributors
Executive Producer, "Abandoned in the Arctic"
Geoffrey E. Clark, M.D.
Cocked Hat Ventures, LLC
152 Middle Street,
Portsmouth, NH 03801-4306
Geoffrey Clark is a gastroenterologist, entrepreneur, pilot, sailor, and explorer.
Producer/Director "Abandoned in the Arctic"
Gino Del Guercio
Boston Science Communications, Inc.
321 Center Street,
South Easton, MA.02375
Gino Del Guercio has produced and directed films for PBS, NOVA, A&E, and Discovery Channel for many years and was part of the team that developed and produced Discover Magazine. Specializing in science and history, Del Guercio has received numerous awards for his work including an Emmy, two CINE Golden Eagles, and an AAAS Science Journalism award for Television-the top US award for science television.