stefansson-wrangel-09-38-003-001a

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After 1889, when whaling became thoroughly established in the
Beaufort Sea east of Barrow, there grew up a custom depending on the habits
of the whales that all ships headed eastward along the north coast of Alaska
as ice permitted, to spend the time from early July
to middle of August in the Herschel Island waters. Those ships which intended to
winter might continue the Beaufort whaling
even into September, but those not wintering aimed to pass Barrow westbound between the
middle of August and early September to proceed to Wrangel Island waters,
where they remained according to the season sometimes well into October.
Some years these ships met little or no ice and frequently coasted so near
Wrangel that they could see polar bears on the beach, although they seldom
landed. From these autumn visits grew up the belief, which doubtless corresponds to
the facts, that Wrangel Island is frequently approachable by ship late in
the summer. But there also grew up a belief, which appears to have been
founded chiefly on absence of evidence, that the island was not approachable
in the early summer. Really the experience of the whalers threw no light
on that problem, since, because of the aforesaid belief in the movements
of whales, they were striving towards Herschel and not towards Wrangel in July and August
Bering Straits in early summer. So that after 1889 most of
our evidence of Wrangel Island being open before September comes from ships
other than whalers - walrusing ships, motion picture craft, fur traders, etc.
I have no dates for these voyages but have often
heard them conversed about by whalers and
Alaskans.

September 15, 1911 - Southwest corner

1914 - late in July unsuccessful attempts - not within 20 miles

1924 - Red October - Aug. 20, ice between Herald Island and east coast of
Wrangel - 2 days later ice gone - went to Cape Blossom - 23 August -
started back

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