|This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (March 2010)
The Baychimo was a steel 1,322 ton cargo steamer built in 1914 in Sweden and owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, used to trade pelts for provisions in Inuit settlements along the Victoria Island coast of the Northwest Territories of Canada. It became a notable ghost ship along the Alaska coast.
The Baychimo was launched in 1914 as the Ångermanelfven under yard No 420 by Lindholmens Mek. Verks. A/B Gothenburg, Sweden for the Baltische Reederei K.G., Hamburg. She was 230 ft (70.1 m) long, powered by a triple expansion steam engine and had a speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). The Ångermanelfven was used on trading routes between Hamburg and Sweden until the First World War. After WWI she was passed to Great Britain as part of the reparations by Germany for shipping losses and acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1921. Renamed Baychimo and based in Ardrossan, Scotland, she completed nine successful voyages along the north coast of Canada, visiting trading posts and collecting pelts.
On October 1, 1931, at the end of a trading run and loaded with a cargo of fur, Baychimo became trapped in pack ice. The crew briefly abandoned the ship, travelling over a half-mile of ice to the town of Barrow to take shelter for two days, but then the ship broke free of the ice and the crew returned. The ship became mired again on October 8, more thoroughly this time, and on October 15 the Hudson's Bay Company sent aircraft to retrieve 22 of the crew. 15 crew remained behind, intending to wait out the winter if necessary, and they constructed a wooden shelter some distance away. On November 24 a powerful blizzard struck, and after it abated there was no sign of the Baychimo; the skipper concluded that it must have broken up and sunk in the storm. A few days later, however, an Inuit seal hunter informed them that he had seen the Baychimo about 45 mi (72 km) away from their position. The 15 men proceeded to track the ship down and, deciding that the ship was unlikely to survive the winter, retrieved the most valuable furs from the hold to transport by air. The Baychimo was abandoned.
The Baychimo did not sink, however, and over the next several decades there were numerous sightings of the ship. People managed to board her several times, but each time they were either unequipped to salvage the ship or driven away again by bad weather. The last recorded sighting of the Baychimo was by a group of Inuit in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned. She was stuck fast in the pack ice of the Beaufort Sea between Point Barrow and Icy Cape in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern Alaskan coast.
Baychimo's ultimate fate is unknown. She is presumed sunk.
- A few days after the Baychimo had disappeared on November 24, the ship was found 45 mi (72 km) south of where she was lost, but was again ice-packed.
- After several months, she was spotted again but about 300 mi (480 km) to the east.
- In March of the following year, she was seen floating peacefully near the shore by a man traveling to Nome with his dog sled team.
- A few months after that, she was seen by a company of prospectors.
- March 1933, she was found by a group of Eskimos who boarded her and were trapped on-board for 10 days by a freak storm.
- August 1933, the Hudson's Bay Company heard she was still afloat, but was too far a-sea to salvage.
- July 1934, she was boarded by a group of explorers on a schooner.
- September 1935, she was seen off the Alaskan coast.
- November 1939, she was boarded by Captain Hugh Polson, wishing to salvage her, but the creeping ice floes intervened and the captain had to abandon her.
- After 1939, she was seen floating alone and without crew numerous times, but had always eluded capture.
- March 1962, she was seen sailing along the Beaufort Sea coast by a group of Eskimos.
- She was found frozen in an ice pack in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned, and this is the last recorded sighting of the ghostly Baychimo.
- In 2006, the Alaskan government began work on a project to solve the mystery of "the Ghost Ship of the Arctic" and locate the Baychimo, whether still afloat or on the ocean floor. As of yet, she has not been found.
- Gunston, David, UNESCO Courier, Aug-Sept 1991
- Time Magazine - Flights & Flyers 29 February 1932, brief description of search for ship
- Alan Bolton site by the grandson of a person on the ship, with pictures
- Taissumani: A Day in Arctic History Nov. 24, 1931 – Ghost Ship: The Disappearance of the Baychimo
- Dinosaur Comics comic referencing the Baychimo
- Dalton, Anthony, Baychimo: Arctic Ghost Ship, Heritage House, 2006, ISBN 1-894974-14-X
- Gillingham, Donald W., Umiak!, Museum Press, 1955