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Northern People, Northern Knowledge - 
The Story Of The Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913 - 1918
Canada's little Arctic Navy: The Ships of the Expedition
Karluk | Alaska | Mary Sachs | Polar Bear | North Star | Challenge | Gladiator | Umiak and launches
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The schooner Challenge was a member of the CAE's "Little Arctic Navy" for only a few weeks, but she served just long enough to save Stefansson from an unplanned overwintering on Banks Island at the end of his 1917 exploration trip.

Challenge was a small gasoline-powered schooner that could carry between 150 and 175 tons of cargo. She had been commanded for a number of years by Captain Theodore Peterson, one of the most able of the Arctic whaling skippers. Stefansson had visited Challenge in December 1908, when under Captain Petersen; she was wintering inside the Point Barrow lagoon in Alaska. The next summer, Stefansson, Pannigabluk, and Natkusiak travelled along the coast to Herschel Island on the Challenge (Stefansson 1913).

In the autumn of 1913 the trader Charlie Madsen bought the Challenge from a Laplander at Nome. Madsen overhauled the ship, installed an Atlas Imperial engine, and sailed her to the Siberian coast in the spring of 1914. When Challenge returned to Nome after a battering in the ice of Bering Strait (but a successful trading voyage), Madsen sailed south and overwintered on the Alaska Peninsula. He returned to Nome late in the season, 1915 and there "with regrets, I sold my fine ship" to "a representative of the Canadian Arctic Expedition" who was "looking for a vessel to replace the lost Karluk. The stoutly built Challenge met his needs and he made me a generous offer" (Madsen).

The new owner, James Crawford, former engineer of Mary Sachs and a member of the CAE from 1913 to 1916, and his partner Leo Wittenberg, prepared to take the Challenge on a trading expedition to Herschel and Banks Islands (Hunt 1975). In February 1917 the Challenge was wintering in Minto Inlet near the CAE camp on Victoria Island. Among the men stationed on the ship were Otto Binder and August Masik, who were later hired to help with the CAE.

When Challenge later appeared at Cape Kellett, where Stefansson was stranded in autumn 1917, it was a stroke of luck for Stefansson and his men. Stefansson bought the Challenge from Crawford and Wittenberg in spite of the weaknesses he knew "from having considered buying her in Nome in 1913 before we chose the Sachs." Having no choice, he bought her for for $6,000 and gave all the CAE supplies on Banks Island and the wreck of the Mary Sachs, including her engines, to Crawford and his men. Under Masik as mate and Binder as engineer, Challenge sailed for the west with Wittenberg as passenger. After they caught up to Polar Bear, Challenge became surplus to Stefansson's need. Binder, Noice, and Carroll formed a partnership and bought Challenge from Stefansson for $6,000 to sail east for trapping, trading and the adventure of exploration. Unfortunately, the ship was wrecked in winter quarters on the mainland coast of Amundsen Gulf the first year.