- Auction of Captain Scott’s expedition (bbc.co.uk)
- The disquieting sound of The Great White Silence (guardian.co.uk)
- Selina Scott gives a new dimension to the real Downton Abbey houses (telegraph.co.uk)
An old house in the small town in Solovki was originally built to house prisoners in the 1920s and 1930s.
But the Volga is more than a river. It is an elaborate system of lakes, locks and manmade canals that links Russia’s two most famous cities. This network also reaches far to the north into the White Sea. For centuries, it was the shortest route to Europe and it became Russia’s main center of trade and defense.
The Solovetsky Islands, less than 100 miles from the Arctic Circle, have become a popular destination. Their history is dramatic — and that drama is still being played out.
For Russian tourists, the trip north to Solovki, as the islands are known, is worth the voyage. These remote islands sum up their country’s greatest achievements and its greatest tragedy.
Father Porfiry is abbot of the newly restored Solovetsky Monastery.
“For 500 years, this place reflected the genius and power of God. The Communist revolution was the story of a great fall. Now we have overcome all that and see the restoration of Russia and its spiritual life,” he says.
- “Ugol” Meaning “Angle” – The Volga bends here – Uglich, Central Russia, Russia (travelpod.com)
- You: Scholar sees Russian-held isles slipping away (search.japantimes.co.jp)
- U.S. backs Japan over isle dispute with Russia (search.japantimes.co.jp)
Our grandchildren will know no Arctic.
Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record
Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.
Last week, at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in the Arctic, sea ice covered 4.76 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles), the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.
“This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below five million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), and all those occurrences have been within the past four years,” the report said.
A separate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in August, too, Arctic sea ice coverage was down sharply, covering an average of six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles), or 22 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000.
The August coverage was the second lowest for Arctic sea ice since records began in 1979. Only 2007 saw a smaller area of the northern sea covered in ice in August, NOAA said.
The record low for Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in September, was also in 2007, when ice covered just 4.13 million square kilometers (1.595 million square miles).
- What does the 2010 Arctic Sea ice minimum extent signify? (greenanswers.com)
- Arctic sea ice reaches lowest 2010 extent, third lowest in satellite record (eurekalert.org)
Titanic survivors Laura Francatelli (standing, second right) and her employers, Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon (standing, third left) and Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon (directly behind Lady Lucy), on the Carpathia, following their rescue from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. (AP Photo/Henry Aldridge and Son)
Francatelli was a maid to Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon. Her account tells of how she and her mistress refused to board a lifeboat unless Sir Cosmo joined them, which he at first refused until an officer insisted. She also wrote how she and Lady Duff-Gordon were the only women on deck at the time.
“We were dropped into this boat and lowered into the sea. Just as they were lowering the boat two American gentlemen came along the deck and got in also.
“The Officers gave orders to us to row away from ship.
“There were seven sailors in the boat Lady Duff Gordon myself Sir Cosmo and the two American gentlemen. Twelve in all.
“The boat was not a lifeboat but quite a small ordinary rowing boat and not too safe,” she continued.
“We kept on rowing and stopping and rowing again I heard some talk going on all about the suction if the ship went down. I do not know who joined in the conversation.
“We were a long way off when we saw the Titanic go right up at the back and plunge down. There was an awful rumbling when she went. The [sic] came the screams and cries. I do not know how long they lasted.
“We had hardly any talk. The men spoke about God and prayers and wives. We were all in the darkness. Mr. Hengle kept on shouting Boat ahoy! and some one said There was bound to be help soon. After the ship went down all seemed very quiet for a long while.
“Later on I heard the men speaking about losing their kits and Sir C. Duff Gordon said he would make it all right for them. Sir Cosmo told them not to worry about it. He would give them £5 each.”
Francatelli also wrote of warming the hands and feet of the men who were rowing the boat due to the freezing temperatures.
Following their rescue, stories circulated that Sir Duff-Gordon had bribed crewmembers to get a boat for himself, his wife and employee. Though cleared by an official inquiry, his reputation suffered. He died in 1931.
Lady Duff-Gordon, a noted fashion designer, died in 1935.
Francatelli later married hotelier Max Haering. She died in London in 1967.
- Rare Titanic survivor letter to be auctioned (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Voices From The Titanic (socyberty.com)
- The truth about the sinking of the Titanic (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘Titanic’ co-star Gloria Stuart dies at 100 (pbpulse.com)
Lost in the Canadian Arctic, two British polar exploration ships more than 150 years old are frozen in some icy nook and cranny.
Despite more than 30 search and rescue missions for Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew, only scraps of evidence — forks and spoons, shoes, a letter — have been found of the 1845 expedition.
Now a team of Canadian archaeologists is setting off with modern sonar sea-floor mapping instruments, along with historical records to locate HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, reports a BBC News article. The researchers hope to finally piece together what happened to the shipwrecked crew.
Veteran explorer Franklin led two ships and 128 men north in search of the legendary North-West Passage — a narrow channel that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The existence of such a channel would revolutionize trading; ships would no longer need to circumnavigate around the Americas to reach the West Coast or Asia. For this reason, the Royal Navy was offering a £10,000 reward for finding the North-West Passage.
The passage was eventually discovered by Captain Robert McClure in 1855 during a failed rescue mission for Franklin’s crew. Today ships can use the iceberg-filled pathway, but only in the dead of summer.
When Franklin set off on his final voyage, he was motivated by the prize money, adventure and glory. No stranger to the harsh, cold conditions of the Arctic, Franklin had already mapped 1,200 miles of Canadian coastline on previous expeditions.
The crew outfitted the front tips of HMS Terror and HMS Erebus with iron so the ships could bust through any icy barriers. The ships also featured the latest technology at the time — small steam engines.
But the Arctic proved a formidable foe. The ships crashed, and whether due to lead poisoning from poorly packaged food, scurvy or simply not enough food, the entire crew perished.
Interviews with Inuits during early rescue missions revealed that some members of the crew got crazed and desperate, resorting to cannibalism.
The mystery of how all the explorers died is one of the many questions the Canadian archaeologists hope to resolve.
The archaeologists are following the same sea route used by Franklin and his crew in 1845: entering the Arctic from the East and maneuvering past Greenland into the vast Canadian Arctic archipelago.
The team is basing their search on the few clues researchers have already accumulated. For example, the location of the shipwreck is suspected to be somewhere along Mercy Bay and could be marked by debris of the wreck, including a pile of coal.
If the investigation in Mercy Bay proves unfruitful, the team plans on flying more than 621 miles east to another potential crash spot. In this second location, west of the Adelaide Peninsula, the archaeologists hope to survey the sea floor for remnants of the ships.
And maybe, fingers crossed, this will be the final search mission for Franklin and his crew.
Image: Circa 1847: Members of the arctic expedition led by British explorer Sir John Franklin (1786 – 1847) on their attempt to discover the Northwest passage. Original Publication: From a painting by W Turner Smith. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)