Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum
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Exhibits
Unknown photographer, Wiscasset, 1925. Gift of Dr. Edward K. Morse.
Working Through the Ice: The Bowdoin and The Effie M. Morrissey
July 25, 2000 - November 5, 2000
Sailing ships have braved the difficult waters of the Arctic for centuries, but few have been so successful, or returned so frequently, as the Bowdoin and the Effie M. Morrissey. Thanks to their skilled captains, Donald B. MacMillan and Robert A. Bartlett, these ships repeatedly navigated uncharted waters from Labrador’s dangerous coast to the ice choked bays of Greenland and Baffin Island. They carried scientists researching the wonders of the Arctic, and supplies and medical aid to remote communities. Now celebrated as National Historic Landmarks, both ships are fondly remembered in the many northern communities they returned to year after year. 
<p><b>The <em>Bowdoin</em> after a long winter</b> </p>    Donald B. MacMillan envisioned the <em>Bowdoin</em> as a movable platform for Arctic research. The schooner spent many months purposefully frozen in the ice of sheltered harbors while MacMillan and his crews conducted research. When the ice finally melted, sometimes as late as August, it would be time to return south and begin preparations for the next expedition.   <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, Refuge Harbor, Northwest Greenland, 1924. Gift of Dr. Edward K. Morse.
<p><b>Designed for the Ice</b> </p>    The <em>Bowdoin</em> was built in East Boothbay, Maine, and outfitted in South Portland in 1921. MacMillan envisioned a small vessel, strong, maneuverable, and with a shallow draft for navigating in the icy waters of the far north. Sails and engine together provided speed and nimbleness.  <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, South Portland, 1921. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.

<p><b>Field Tested</b> </p>    The schooner’s strength and maneuverability were frequently tested in encounters with uncharted rocks and floating ice. Here MacMillan has beached the <em>Bowdoin</em> to repair a propeller damaged by ice. Repairs had to be improvised when the nearest shipyard was many days travel away.  <br> <br>  Rutherford Platt, Northern Greenland, 1947. Gift of Alexander D. Platt, Rutherford Platt and Susan Platt.
<p><b>Big Seas!</b> </p>    Sailing in the far north is always an adventure. Seas in the North Atlantic can be stormy. Sudden squalls and days of fierce winds are common. Fortunately, the <em>Bowdoin</em> is very seaworthy. Photographer Rutherford Platt reported logging 10 knots the day before this picture was taken.  <br> <br>  Rutherford Platt, Strait of Belle Isle, September 8, 1947. Gift of Alexander D. Platt, Rutherford Platt and Susan Platt.

<p><b>Icy Calm</b> </p>    Northern waters are not always rough. Floating ice calms the ocean, and clear windless days can leave the water mirror-like. Navigating in these waters requires both a skilled crew and a maneuverable ship. It can take days to work through an ice field, and there is always the risk of being ‘pinched’ between the floes as they move with the wind and tide.  <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, Kane Channel, Baffin Island, 1929. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.
<p><b>The <em>Bowdoin</em> in Winter Quarters</b> </p>    One of the key elements of MacMillan’s plan for the <em>Bowdoin</em> was that the vessel could safely freeze into the ice for the winter. On her first voyage north, to Baffin Island, the <em>Bowdoin</em> was frozen into Schooner Harbour, on the southwest coast, over the winter of 1921-22. Snow blocks built up around the schooner and over the hatches helped insulate the ship.  <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, Schooner Harbour, Baffin Island, 1921-22. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.

<p><b>Festivities for the S.S. <em>Peary</em> and the Schooner <em>Bowdoin</em></b> </p>    In the summer of 1925 MacMillan and Richard Byrd led an expedition to Northern Greenland. The departure of the two ships from Wiscasset, Maine, was a major event, as were many of the <em>Bowdoin’s</em> later departures. The first airplane flights in the far north, made on this expedition, demonstrated the value of planes for northern exploration.  <br> <br>  Unknown photographer, Wiscasset, 1925. Gift of Dr. Edward K. Morse.
<p><b>The <em>Bowdoin</em> on the Rocks</b> </p>    Sailing in uncharted waters is always risky, and despite MacMillan’s legendary skills, the <em>Bowdoin</em> went aground more than once. Along the rocky coast of Labrador, extricating the schooner from this situation was sometimes simply a matter of waiting for the high tide. The <em>Bowdoin’s</em> heavily built hull saved her from serious damage.   <br> <br>  William R. Esson, Port Burwell, Labrador, August 1, 1934. Donated in memory of William R. Esson.

<p><b>A Dangerous Situation</b> </p>    While working through the ice of Refuge Harbor, where she had been frozen in for 330 days, the <em>Bowdoin</em> struck a rock 'on the tip-top high water,' according to MacMillan. He and his crew were soon in a dangerous situation. They lightened the load as much as possible by moving supplies to the ice, and on the second high tide, the <em>Bowdoin</em> was afloat once more.  <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, Refuge Harbor, Northwest Greenland, July 29-30, 1924. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.
<p><b>Working Through the Ice</b> </p>    Icebergs and pack ice are both a constant concern and a source of fascination for Arctic navigators. Threading the <em>Bowdoin</em> through pack ice, MacMillan was usually to be found in the ‘ice bucket,’ where he had a birds-eye view of ice conditions, calling instructions to the helmsman. Icebergs had to be watched carefully too, often through the lens of a camera.   <br> <br>  Rutherford Platt, 1947. Gift of Alexander D. Platt, Rutherford Platt and Susan Platt.

<p><b>Working Through the Ice</b> </p>    Icebergs and pack ice are both a constant concern and a source of fascination for Arctic navigators. Threading the <em>Bowdoin</em> through pack ice, MacMillan was usually to be found in the ‘ice bucket,’ where he had a birds-eye view of ice conditions, calling instructions to the helmsman. Icebergs had to be watched carefully too, often through the lens of a camera.   <br> <br>  Miriam MacMillan, aboard the <em>Bowdoin</em>, ca. 1940. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.
<p><b>Working Through the Ice</b> </p>    Icebergs and pack ice are both a constant concern and a source of fascination for Arctic navigators. Threading the <em>Bowdoin</em> through pack ice, MacMillan was usually to be found in the ‘ice bucket,’ where he had a birds-eye view of ice conditions, calling instructions to the helmsman. Icebergs had to be watched carefully too, often through the lens of a camera.   <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, aboard the <em>Bowdoin</em>, ca. 1940. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.

<p><b>The <em>Effie M. Morrissey</em></b> </p>    Robert A. Bartlett was already a renowned Arctic captain when he acquired the ‘little <em>Morrissey</em>’ as he called his ship, in 1925. Built as a fishing schooner, the <em>Morrissey</em> was well suited to northern work. Bartlett added a diesel engine in 1926, for increased speed and maneuverability, but to her captain the <em>Morrissey</em> remained primarily a sailing vessel.   <br> <br>  Unidentified cameraman, Greenland, ca. 1930. Gift of David Nutt.
<p><b>Robert A. Bartlett</b> </p>    Robert A. Bartlett sailed 'down the Labrador' from the time he was a child, but he made his first voyage to the far north as a young man, a mate aboard his uncle’s ship the <em>Windward</em>. Less than ten years later, Bartlett was one of the world’s most celebrated Arctic sailors. As captain of the <em>Morrissey</em>, he transported many researchers and explorers to the far north.  <br> <br>  Donald B. MacMillan, Anaktalak Bay, February 10, 1928. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.

<p><b>The <em>Morrissey</em> Meets the Ice</b> </p>    Robert A. Bartlett frequently sailed the <em>Morrissey</em> to regions that few other ships visited, from the icy waters off East Greenland to a record farthest north, above 80° North latitude. Like MacMillan, he often worked the schooner through the pack from the ice bucket and he was known to use dynamite to force his way through ice jams when necessary.  <br> <br>  Unidentified photographer, aboard the <em>Morrissey</em>, ca. 1930. Gift of David Nutt.
<p><b>Hauling in the Sails</b> </p>    Sailing in the far north requires hard work in all sorts of conditions. During bad weather crew members were usually too busy working to take photographs. On a number of Bartlett’s expeditions, however, professional cameramen were along to document all aspects of life aboard the <em>Morrissey</em> for news reels shown in movie theatres throughout the country.  <br> <br>  Unidentified photographer, aboard the <em>Morrissey</em>, ca. 1930. Gift of David Nutt.

<p><b>Studying the Chart</b> </p>    Bartlett was an expert navigator whether he was sailing in familiar Labrador waters, or in places neither he nor his crew had visited previously. Researchers on his voyages relied on his skill to take them to their destinations and return home again safely. In over 20 years of sailing aboard the <em>Morrissey</em>, not a single life was lost.   <br> <br>  Unidentified photographer, aboard the <em>Morrissey</em>, ca. 1930. Gift of David Nutt.