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  • David Forcucci

Following in the footsteps of Fram, Boat #587 traverses the Arctic Ocean

Updated: Jul 2


Fram in ice 1896 Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fram_in_ice_1896.jpg

The ship ‘Fram’ was built by Fridtjof Nansen for polar exploration. In 1893, he and his crew sailed into the Arctic Ocean to intentionally beset the Fram in the pack ice and drift to the North Pole. His plan was based on pieces of wood wreckage found from the ship Jeannette which traversed the Arctic Ocean from West to East and were found off Greenland three years after being crushed by the ice. On October 5, 1893 the Fram retracted its rudder as it was surrounded by ice. Almost 125 years later, on November 18, 2020, a box of Float Your Boats were deployed on the sea ice within 100 miles from where the Fram iced in. The Norwegian ship the KV Svalbard followed a similar route as the Fram to get there in the waning daylight that fall. They were on a mission to retrieve science instrumentation just North of Alaska and dropped off Float Your Boats and their parent buoy along the way. 


A ship leaves a wake not footsteps. That is normally the case in open water however the Fram crew would venture onto the pack ice whenever weather permitted, leaving footsteps that would drift along with them. About 3 years later the Fram had crossed the Arctic Ocean, missing the North Pole, and was back in Norway. Float Your Boat #587 was found on a beach in northeast Iceland after 2.5 years. Like the Fram it had drifted slowly along with the ice in the Transpolar current and probably entered the North Atlantic through the Fram Strait. The boat was found on May 26 by a tourist, Anthony Robins from Seattle on a beach on the Langanes Peninsula 2,300 miles from where it was deployed. Figure 1 shows the drift track of Fram and boat #587. The boat was worn a bit, losing the scrawled number that was burned in by hand on the top of the hull and the “www”.  The sharpie on the transom somehow survived.   


Without the collaboration between US and Norwegian scientists, deploying boats in 2020 would not have occurred. The Norwegians not only made it possible but they added creativity by coming up with the idea of deploying boats at the Fram site. This connection between Seattle and Bergen was enhanced by the fact that a Seattleite found the boat. Tony and his wife left the boat on the beach hoping to see if a tidal surge will Float Your Boat on another voyage.  

Boat Number

587

Date Found

May 26, 2023

Place Found

Northeast Iceland, Langanes Peninsula  66d17’28”N 15d4’22”W

66.291 -15.0728

Found By

Anthony Robins, Seattle, Washington

Date Deployed

Who Deployed

KV Svalbard, Hanne Sagen, CAATEX

Deployment Location

79.804456;136.856153

Track Taken

Trans Polar Drift through Fram strait

Notes from Anthony

My wife and I are from Seattle and joined a culinary tour of Iceland.  We’re traveling the country and often stop for hikes. I found this boat on the beach. We took photos and put it back on the beach because a storm surge may send it elsewhere. We sent coordinates when we were back in the van so they are probably a mile or two NE of the boat find. Cellular connection was poor. It was fun for our group to guess the story behind this little boat.

Figure 1. Drift track of Fram and boat #587.


Boat #587
Boat # 587
Boats boxed and ready to deploy with a parent buoy by the SV Svalbard Icebreaker ship

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