Monday, January 17, 2011
January 17, 2011 : The Baychimo
The Baychimo was a steel 1,322 ton cargo steamer built in 1914 in Sweden and owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, used to trade pelts for provisions in Inuit settlements along the Victoria Island coast of the Northwest Territories of Canada. It became a notable ghost ship along the Alaska coast.
On October 1, 1931, at the end of a trading run and loaded with a cargo of fur, Baychimo became trapped in pack ice. The crew briefly abandoned the ship, travelling over a half-mile of ice to the town of Barrow to take shelter for two days, but then the ship broke free of the ice and the crew returned. The ship became mired again on October 8, more thoroughly this time, and on October 15 the Hudson's Bay Company sent aircraft to retrieve 22 of the crew. 15 crew remained behind, intending to wait out the winter if necessary, and they constructed a wooden shelter some distance away. On November 24 a powerful blizzard struck, and after it abated there was no sign of the Baychimo; the skipper concluded that it must have broken up and sunk in the storm. A few days later, however, an Inuit seal hunter informed them that he had seen the Baychimo about 45 mi (72 km) away from their position. The 15 men proceeded to track the ship down and, deciding that the ship was unlikely to survive the winter, retrieved the most valuable furs from the hold to transport by air. The Baychimo was abandoned.
The Baychimo did not sink, however, and over the next several decades there were numerous sightings of the ship. People managed to board her several times, but each time they were either unequipped to salvage the ship or driven away again by bad weather. The last recorded sighting of the Baychimo was by a group of Inuit in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned. She was stuck fast in the pack ice of the Beaufort Sea between Point Barrow and Icy Cape in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern Alaskan coast.
Baychimo's ultimate fate is unknown and is presumed sunk.