Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions

Ron Carlson Arctic Expeditions
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Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Boat Place"

Had a good weather window today, so quickly picked up and flew a long ways to that somewhat famous location known long ago as "Boat Place".  This is where the lifeboat and human skeletal remains of uncertain Franklin crew members were originally found by one of the latter search mission expeditions.  Led by Francis Leopold McClintock, hired by Lady Franklin, on the ship called Fox.  It is probably the most intriguing and eery of all the sites.  Back then, inside the boat, which was purportedly being dragged back to the Erebus and Terror by some 15 men, a clothed skeleton was frozen sitting at one end of the boat and on the side, two shotguns leaning on the gunwale still locked and loaded.  Probably the last man in this sad band.  [Revised from picture showing the guns held in the hands of the last skeleton, the guns were actually leaning on the boat as depicted in the new picture here, thanks for clarifiation to William Battersby, who actually coincidentally had lunch last week with Leopold McClintock's great great granddaughter]. 

Not very accessible, it's on the north side of the Graham Gore Peninsula.  It looks much different than I had thought it would look like over the many years of reading and imagining.  A very small thin little spit of gravel and sand.  I was at very low altitude, with flaps down to slow the plane's airspeed - about 100 feet AGL (which means "above ground level", MSL is "above sea level").  Did some landing approaches nearby but when 10 feet off the ground, near eye level, the boulders that were very small from the air popped up like huge gophers.  Too many to dodge for a touch down, so I did a couple of go arounds...but no dice.  Taking no chances.  I can probably land a mile or two away and hike over, maybe in the next week or two if I pass nearby.

Leopold McClintock
In making some additional very low slow approaches, I recorded some good video and a couple of clear pics.  There is plainly visible a small pile of debris; planks or boards and other things.  I assume these are the last remains of the whale boat that they were dragging.  Glad to see that some things are still there.

What a sad and lonely little spot.  As I looked down, it was so isolated, but framed.  On this little spit of gravel and sand, in the shape of an "exclamation mark" actually.  You could almost see in one's imagination the complete whaleboat there, perched on the small gravel shelf, with the men in despair, sitting on the gentle gravel slope and looking out over Victoria Strait wondering what will become of them. 

To me it seemed surprisingly more of an obvious place to any observer on land or sea than I thought it would be.  It does not blend in as everything else does here, especially when flying or walking in the interior.

I will download and broadcast all these images tonight or tomorrow.  Images turned out well and in one picture, one can clearly see the pieces.  3 large planks are most noticeable.  2 of them appear as runners from sledge, maybe.....

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