Hathcock History: Lost treasures and ghost ships
- On 14/12/2012
- In Miscellaneous
By Steve Hathcock - Valley Morning Star
The cargo steamer Baychimo, built in Sweden in 1914 for the Hudson Bay Company, spent its early days plying the frigid waters along the Victoria Island Coast of the Northwest Territory trading supplies for pelts with the people who lived in the cold northern wilderness.
The Baychimo was homeward bound in October 1931, when it became trapped in the ice. The ship was briefly abandoned, but the crew managed to break her free from its icy prison and the vessel resumed her journey.
A few days later the Baychimo again became stuck in the ice and this time most of the crew was airlifted to safety.
Fifteen men remained behind in the hopes that the vessel could be freed from the ice. A great blizzard sprang up and the crew took shelter in a cabin on a nearby shore.
When the storm lifted the ship had vanished and the crew assumed that the Baychimo must have sunk during the storm.
A few days later, the Baychimo was once again sighted some 45 miles away. The crew re-boarded her and a brief inspection revealed the craft to be unseaworthy.
After removing its cargo of furs and pelts and expecting the ship to sink at any time, the crew once again abandoned the old steamer.
Incredibly, the Baychimo continued to float on the sea on its own for another 38 years, and was seen many times.
Several times the ghost ship was boarded, but due to either bad weather or the lack of necessary equipment to salvage her, the Baychimo continued on her last voyage.
The Baychimo was last seen stuck in the ice of Beaufort Sea in 1969. According to legend, one of the most famous of the ghost ships, the Flying Dutchman, can never go home and must sail the sea forever.
If she is stopped by another ship at sea, her crew of the dead will try to send messages to people ashore (who are also long since dead).
In most versions of the story, the Dutch captain swore that he would not stop sailing in the face of a storm that threatened to sink his ship.
The crew and passengers begged him to change course, but the captain, who was either drunk or crazy, swore he would continue to round the Cape of Good Hope until Judgment Day.
Monstrous waves crashed against the ship and a howling wind shredded the sails and bent the mast but the captain stayed his course, alternately shouting curses at the heavens or drinking great draughts of beer and smoking his pipe.