In the forenoon, a whaleboat came from the east, with Mr. James Allen and seven Point Hope Eskimos. They reported that the S.S. “Belvedere” was caught in the heavy ice about 1 ½ miles off Demarcation Point, had been unable to reach Herschel Island, and Captain S.F. Cottle had given up hope of getting out of the Arctic this year… They say the ocean is packed full of ice from here eastward, and they had difficulty in getting a whaleboat along the shore and had to portage it in one or two places. The schooner “Elvira” and schooner “Polar Bear” are also caught in the ice about ten miles off Demarcation Point… Mr. Allen says that Capt. Cottle and the other whalers agree that this is the worst season for ice ever known in the Arctic Ocean from Point Barrow east. The smoke of the Karluk was seen far off shore some time back. Mr. Allen says that no whaler would venture out so far when the heavy ice is as thick as it is this summer.
R. M. Anderson
Leader, Southern Party
Diary of Rudolph M. Anderson © Canadian Museum of Nature
In these days of almost daily reports on the decrease in Arctic ice and the projected opening of the Northwest Passage to summer shipping, it is hard to imagine ships being trapped by ice in the month of September.
However, we have to remember that ice navigation is impacted by more than just the amount of ice. Ocean currents, ocean depth, wind and configuration of islands and channels, can all greatly affect the success of ships working through ice while trying to reach an Arctic destination. Even with a lessening of the ice amount there may still be problems of navigation in areas where ice is packed into narrow straits or blown against Arctic coasts.