Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grylls' Route

After a good deal of jiggering around with the route-tracing page on Bear Grylls' site, I managed to get a close-up view of his journey as he passed by the NE corner of King William Island. As you can see in the comparison shot here, he passed almost exactly through the area I'd initially thought, nipping the NE corner of Qikiqtarjuaq Island. It would seem to me that the locality of the "uncharted" islet on which these graves and other remains were found must have been in the immediate vicinity of Cape Sabine, or else possibly near the unnamed bay to the north of Cape Edgeworth. Still no word from Mr. Grylls, but let's hope he continues uploading photos to his page here -- maybe we'll see something of what he has described on his blog.


  1. An item published yesterday in Hedgeweek offers some reflection by Bear Grylls on his possible Franklin find. He's quoted as saying that "I have grown up on the tales of Franklin and his lost crew. Here in 2010 it is exciting, to the bottom of my own bones, to know that exploration is still alive and mysteries are still out there to be solved" -- which is certainly encouraging!

    There is also a slightly different description of the site, which implies that the fires were fed by pieces of the "mast" found nearby:

    During their trip, the FCP NorthWest Passage team uncovered human bones, tools carved from whale bone and evidence of large fires built from masts. The discovery was made on a small outcrop, inaccessible to all but the smallest craft, in the Wellington Strait, where Franklin is thought to have become icebound.

    Grylls says: “Our tiny island, no more than a couple of acres, bore signs of large fires on the Northern side, as well as pins made of whale bone,  together with human remains. To build a fire on the Northern side made little sense, given the direction of the wind, save if it was being used as some form of signalling beacon. Perhaps their vessel had become beached in the narrows of the Wellington Strait and, in despair, and out of food, they finally resorted to burning their only method of travel - their only hope of escape.”"

    Follow the link at the top to see the rest of this article ...

  2. Russell, have you seen the photos of the grave with the rock outline and what may be a tent circle on Gryll's site? The pic of the grave has a GPS leaning up against the rocks at the foot of the grave.

    I also played with the RIB tracker replay (the track map on his website links through to a site that has the map with a live, freezable replay of his trip including time tracking pop-up on the play console), and, if the time indicated by the tracker is UTC, then I think the island with the graves may be the tiny one southeast of the strait where the red course does a zig-zag. If the time on the tracker is UTC, then they arrive a while before sunset on Wednesday, Sept.1, the day the blog indicates they arived and made the find, stay 15 hours or so, and leave on Sept 2, the day the find is written about in the blog. After what appears to be a night camp on west side of Somerset Island the night before, they do not appear to hang around just north of the strait nor while in it, but at this tiny island, they do. The RIB appears to be anchored south of the island, so they would need to take a dinghy to the island, as described in the blog. Near the end of the 15 hours or so, the RIB appears to move just off the island, perhaps to ease loading, then takes off towards Gjoa Haven.

    The island shows on the Google satellite map, but not if you click through to the normal map. On Google Earth the coordinates are 69 20'21.84"N, 95 52'23.68"W

    Just my thoughts, for what they are worth. Thanks for keeping track of all of this exciting stuff!


  3. I also suppose it could be the even tinier island just to the southwest of the island I've given the coordinates for. It is actually closer to where the RIB anchors and is about 200 meters, the size mentioned by Grylls. Maybe they made a brief visit to the larger island the next morning to quickly check it for artifacts before heading on the Gjoa Haven, though the blog doesn't mention doing so.

  4. famerator, many thanks for your comments, and your impressive geographical footwork! I agree with your conclusions, and since Grylls' blog post identified the island as facing the Wellington Strait, that would rule out the Cape Sabine side, as it doesn't face that way.

    I did see the photo -- this is an odd pattern of rocks! Haven't seen other gravesites like it.

    Your coordinates place this islet off the tip of Matty Island, which suggests it might be related to Inuit stories of a ship in this area. Woodman has traced these threads, and is skeptical of such claims, but a new find such as this could force a re-consideration -- assuming that this turns out to actually be a Franklin-era site ...

  5. Hi guys, what an interesting blog to find.
    My name is John coffey and I Managed the expedition as well as the route planning.
    I can simply provide the exact lat and long if you wish.?
    Contact me via our websites contact forum if you wish.


  6. Mr. Coffey, I've left you a message at the expedition's site; hope to hear from you soon. You can always reach me at "rpotter [at]"

  7. Russell, have you received any information from Mr. Coffey concerning what he, Bear Grylls and the rest of the party found and where? (sorry for chomping at the bit)

  8. Hi David,

    Yes, I have heard from John Coffey -- he promises to tell me more about what they found, and although some of this information may have to be kept in confidence, I will certainly share what I can with you and others on the blog here.

  9. Hi Russell, were there ever any developments with regards to this curious discovery?

  10. Hi Andrew,

    Never did hear anything further from Mr. Coffey. But thanks for reminding me, maybe I'll try him one more time!