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'The Yenisey began life with a groan and ended with a boldness we could never dream of'
A.P. Chekhov, 1890

Where Thames meets Yenisei

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 July 2016

Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.

Rescueing 'The Thames' - two members of Russian Geographical Society pictured as they left for their daring journey. Picture: Yulia Komissarova 

Two members of the Siberian Federal District branch of the Russian Geographical Society (RGS) left on a month-long journey to discover the exact coordinates of the place where English steamboat sunk 140 years ago. 

Nikolay Karelin and Alexander Goncharov, who teach history at the Siberian State Aerospace University, also aim to find graves of Russian sailors from the 'Northern Lights' clipper, who died during a winter of 1876-1877, and mark the area with a memorial cross. 

The explorers left on a catamaran from the town of Turukhansk, 1,475 kilometres north of Krasnoyarsk, aiming to sail more than 900 km in an attempt to reach Dikson Island in the Kara Sea. 

Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.


Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.
'The Thames' steamboat and Captain Joseph Wiggins. Pictures: Sibeian State Aerospace University  


The Thames was the first steamboat that entered Yenisei in 1876 and that became the mighty Siberian river's first casualty. Led by Joseph Wiggins, a prominent English mariner who was one of the first explorers of the Northern Sea Route, The Thames ran aground in 1877 near the port of Igarka. 

Captain Wiggins, who was a passionate believer in the benefits of sea trade between the North Sea countries and the northern part of Siberia, planned to go up the Kara sea to come back to England with a cargo of graphite. After several attempts to rescue the boat he realised its bottom got frozen to the ground, gave up of the rescue plan, and managed to sell The Thames to Siberian merchants. 

His team was sent back to England by land; later Wiggins was awarded by Czar Alexander III for his expeditions to Siberia which were described as an 'event rivaling in importance the return of the first fleet loaded with merchandise from India'. 

Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.
Map of the Northern Sea Route exploration. Picture: Siberian State Aerospace University 


The Russian Geographical Society expedition is set to finish at the beginning of August. Currently there is no phone connection with Nikolay and Alexander, but The Siberian Times is in touch with the Krasnoyarsk branch of RGS, aiming to publish the results of the journey as soon as the travellers are back. 

From 1874, Wiggins twice reached the Ob River, and five times carried cargoes to the Yenisei River.

On one journey, he navigated his ship 2000 miles (3218 km) down the Yenisei, ranked as the fifth longest river in the world. 

His pioneering sailings are especially interesting now as Russia seeks successfully to establish a modern and commercially viable Arctic sea route from east to west off the Siberian landmass. 

Wiggins even facilitated the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway by carrying a large cargo of rails by water.

In 1894 he was awarded the Murchison Award by the Royal Geographical Society. 

Pictures below of the team, the map of their journey and of river Yenisei are by Yulia Komissarova, The Siberian Times and Sholban Kara-Ool. 

Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.


Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.


Siberian expedition to find English steamboat 'The Thames' led by pioneering British mariner that sank in 1876.

Comments (2)

Thank you for printing this article , we will follow the progress of the two explorers . Only just learning about Siberia .
Jen, Australia
25/07/2016 06:45
3
0
I was always wanted to know more about Siberia. Lot of people think, it's only frozen, barren landscape. Nothing and nobody lives there. It's not true! It is beautiful, pristine, and lots of living there (people, animal. plants.) The cold weather just clean the environment. The picture is lovely, almost tropical looking.
Thank You.
Edith, Hamilton Canada
21/07/2016 18:03
4
0
1

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