Burial of John Franklin. Author: me


Kabloonas is the way in which the Inuit who live in the north part of Canada call those who haven´t their same ascendency.

The first time i read this word was in the book "Fatal Passage" by Ken McGoogan, when, as the result of the conversations between John Rae and some inuit, and trying to find any evidence of the ill-fated Sir John Franklin Expedition, some of then mentioned that they watched how some kabloonas walked to die in the proximities of the river Great Fish.

I wish to publish this blog to order and share all those anecdotes that I´ve been finding in the arctic literature about arctic expeditions. My interest began more than 15 years ago reading a little book of my brother about north and south pole expeditions. I began reading almost all the bibliography about Antarctic expeditions and the superknown expeditions of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton, etc. After I was captured by the Nansen, Nobile and Engineer Andree. But the most disturbing thing in that little book, full of pictures, was the two pages dedicated to the last Franklin expedition of the S.XIX, on that moment I thought that given the time on which this and others expeditions happened, few or any additional information could be obtained about it. I couldn´t imagine that after those two pages It would be a huge iceberg full of stories, unresolved misteries, anecdotes, etc. I believe that this iceberg, on the contrary than others, would continue growing instead melting.

sábado, 26 de enero de 2013


Strange title? It is, in fact. But ...Why?

Well, is for all of us known that Robert Falcon Scott used the RSS Discovery ship on his expedition to the South Pole in 1901 in the course of the British National Antarctic Expedition. The flaming ship is still living, not all the exploration ships that beared this name have had the same luck, unfourtunately. She has his home nowadays in Dundee, England and she  is happily working as a museum there. If the wikipedia doesn´t lie, this good boy was one of the last traditional ship, (if not the last), built in England, the last of a saga, the last of the old explorers, a survivor.
RSS Discovery. From: Wikipedia

 But, Did you know that there were other ships named "Discovery"? others that sailed in icy waters more than three hundred years before?

The RSS Discovery used the name of her predecessor, even she worn some of its main features. Her mother, the HMS Discovery was a refurbished whaler. Her original name was Bloodhound and she was built on 1873. Soon she was kept away of the blood of her poor victims and was destinated to  cleaner and gallant purposes. Under the command of George Nares, the recently bought ship put her bow towards the North Pole with the intention of reaching it through the Smith Sound in 1875.
HMS Discovery 1873. From: Wikipedia

The Discovery decided to winter at the sadly known Lady Franklin Bay (stage of the disastrous play performanced by the Adolphus Greely expedition) and finding impossible to go further the ship returned home with her collegue the HMS Alert in 1876. After this expedition the ship served as a storeship till she was finally sold to D. Murray in 1901. Wikipedia finish here, the end of the poor HMS Discovery used by Nares is unknown, at least for me and for the moment, but we will see.

But, yes, there were more Discoveries which did actually more discoveries. If you think on it for a moment, It is not a strange thing using this name to christen a ship, it is almost natural, but they had different lives.  It is Glyn Williams, through his superb book, "Arctic Labyrinth",  which shows me the way.

It was in 1791 when another Discovery took on board at the explorer George Vancouver and carried him towards the west shores of the north coast of America in an expedition that last four years. This time the ship was a Sloop converted again in an explorer ship:

HMS Discovery 1789. From: Wikipedia
But after this long and restless work the duty of this ancient ship didn´t finished, she was converted in a bomb vessel to fight in the battle of Copenaghen in 1798. After, as a kind of retirement, she worked as an Hospital ship, and after as a prison ship. A long life for an indefatigable ship. Again, her name honour her antecesor, the Discovery ship that was commanded by no other than James Cook in his third voyage.

So, then, we have another Discovery, the fourth, sailed by James Cook from 1776 to 1780. This ship was originally a brig named Diligence. She participated on the other two expeditions of Cook. After  the dead of Cook the ship was took under the command of John Gore, the grandfather of the poor Graham Gore, lost with the rest of the crew of the Erebus and Terror ships during the last Franklin expedition.

HMS Discovery 1776. From: Wikipedia
She spent her last days near the docks of Woolwich serving as a transport, and finished her days being broken in 1797. Is sad that these historical ships ended their final days in such a dramatic way, likely, nowadays we would have  preserved them till the end of this days, till their  fatigated wooden frames had been able to resist.

But the saga doesn´t end here, till now the history is more or less known, but there were others, others which names perhaps could have passed unadvertingly for us.

It was in 1741 when another Discovery ship together with the HMS Furnace sailed till Churchill in the Hudson Bay. I haven´t been able to find any representation of the ship, at this point is not easy to find them, but I found a graffitti made by their commanders in the shores of Churchill which is located in the west coast of the Hudson Bay (the picture found, by the way, is in a very interesting blog "Ancientshore" which I recommend to take a look). This Discovery was a 150 ton collier and it was commanded by William Moor cousin of Christopher Middleton the actual commander of the expedition and chief of the Furnace, her mate ship. Both sailed into the Hudson Bay to explore the western coast. It was on this voyage when Middleton discover the later famous piece of shore called Repulse Bay. Both ships returned to England in 1742.

Procedency: http://ancientshore.com/2012/06/24/18th-century-graffiti-at-churchill/
Graffiti found in Churchill in the Hudson Bay.

 Before this ship, there was another one, one Discovery which would be sadly known, a forty ton sloop, used by the expedition of James Knight which disapeared in the west coast of Hudson Bay in 1719 together with the Albany ship. THis expedition finished its days on a similar way as happened to the Franklin expedition 126 years after. All the men died, likely in the Marble Island as it seems to demonstrate the remains  of a shipwreck discovered there and some other remains.

But, have we finished yet? No, there are more Discovery ships, now we have to travel in the time one hundred years before to the year 1615 and accompany to William Baffin and Rober Bylot to the doors of the Lancaster sound which was actually discovered by him, and if we travel few years before to the year 1610 we learn that Henry Hudson also sailed on another Discovery ship of 70 tons. He traveled westward unaware that his career was going to end abruptly. Hudson, his son and other men were forced to abandon the vessel.

HMS Discovery Replica 1610. From: Wikipedia

This last ship, the Hudson one, was used previously in 1600 by George Waymouth. They had the intention of crossing the Northwest passage to reach China. They didn´t pass further than the mouth of the Hudson strait before returning home.

HMS Discovery 1602. From: Wikipedia
And this all for the moment. Well, as I said before I´ve learnt from "Arctic Labyrinth" that there were so many ships called Discovery which had been main actors of the history of the "discoveries" which besides were responsible of the first steps towards the solution of the Northwest passage enigma. But I never have found a whole account of all of them together in the same web site, perhaps I am the first on doing it, and perhaps (I hope so) this humbly post could serve of inspiration for others more detailed posts done by more prepared authors.