An Alaskan whaling
from Charles Brower at Cape Smyth, Alaska for $100 became a valuable part of
the "Expedition Navy." The umiak was almost 9 m in length and 2 m wide, and
covered in the heavy skins of bearded seals. At Bernard Harbour the men
strengthened the structure at the stern and fitted an
outboard motor. The umiak could be lifted by two
men and, in the spring of 1915, was hauled by four or five dogs on an ivory-shod
sled with over 100 kg of gear inside. Later in the summer, in open water, the
umiak carried two or three men, three dogs, and 450 kg of provisions, gasoline,
and camp gear.
On the coastal survey east to Bathurst Inlet and back, the umiak
could make about 9 km/h, and weathered some pretty heavy seas. It could be beached
on any kind of coast in a hurry, by rolling it up on inflated sealskin pokes
a great advantage when exploring an unknown coast, and in an area subject to sudden
winds causing dangerous waves. When navigating among ice floes, the umiak was
practically immune to ice damage. The umiak was left at Tree River in the fall,
with the skin covering removed and hidden in a cache of slate slabs. As R.M. Anderson
wanted the umiak on board the Alaska for the trip out to Nome, in case of accident
or ice crush, it was brought back by the last of the spring sledging parties in
June 1916 (Anderson 1917).
EDNA AND WILD BILL
The launch Edna was used in surveying the Mackenzie
Delta in 1914, then taken by Mary Sachs to Banks Island. There it was used
to collect driftwood and specimens before it was caught by ice up on the west
coast, north of Cape Kellett.
Wild Bill was a 20-foot gasoline launch with a 7-horsepower Gray motor,
used along with the umiak, by Cox, Chipman, and O'Neill of the Southern Party
to examine the geography and geology of Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut, in the summer
of 1915. On the return trip in September the launch was damaged by new ice and
was cached at Tree River for the next summer. Finding the damage too great to
repair, the launch was abandoned in the spring of 1916. Hoff, the Alaska's
engineer, and his assistant Mike removed the engine and hauled it, along with
the Evinrude outboard, back to Bernard Harbour by dog team.