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(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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along the south-west coast. After lying at anchor and
waiting for four days, the ship returned to the Yugor
Strait on September 4 and went home to Norway.
This survey of navigation to and through the Kara Sea,
brief as it is, will doubtless be sufficient to show that the ice
conditions in that sea are liable to great variation from one year
to another. But, on the other hand, the reports of the various
voyages show clearly enough how little the general conditions
have changed during the 333 years since the first English
expedition penetrated into the Kara Sea in 1580. If we read
the description of this voyage, or of the Dutch expeditions of
1594 and 1595, they seem entirely applicable to the most recent
expeditions through the Kara Sea, with the same open water in
one year and the same difficulties with the ice in the next.
But in those days, of course, they had only sails, whereas we
now have steam.
Our survey also shows how remarkably rare it is in more
recent times for ships to fail in getting through this sea, when
serious attempts have been made. In the forty-five years
since Norwegian sealers, at the close of the sixties, reopened this
sea to navigation, there seem only to have been a few summers
when it was impossible to find a passage. In the forty years
since 1874, during which steamers have attempted to reach the
estuaries of the Obi and Yenisei, we may say that it was only in
the four years, 1882, 1902, 1903, and 1912, that the ice conditions
prevented all ships from reaching their destinations. 1883 was
another year in which no ship arrived, but one of those which
made the attempt had her propeller broken by the ice, and the
other turned back to tow this vessel home to Norway. In 1902
and 1903 only one ship, the Pakhtusov, made the attempt.
That it was a difficult ice year is clear enough, but we know
nothing of the ice conditions in other parts of the Kara Sea at
the time. In 1912 it was only attempted to go forward along
the south coast of the Kara Sea ; we do not know what the ice
conditions were in the northern parts.
The numerous earlier expeditions thus show with certainty
that in the great majority of years it is possible to reach the
Siberian rivers through the Kara Sea, and these expeditions do

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