Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

"Determined to go"

The first White Sea expedition, led by Michael Reinecke, began 195 years ago

17 june 2022

17.06.2022 // On the morning of 17 June, 1827 the first White Sea expedition set out from Arkhangelsk on the brig Lapominka and two schooners. A young researcher, Michael Reinecke, was appointed to lead it. He set the highest work standards for Russian hydrographers and compiled the first reliable atlas of the White Sea, which remained in use among seafarers for a whole century.

The novice hydrographer Michael Reinecke became famous in 1826, when he went on an expedition to the shores of Lapland, managing to chart the shores of the Kola Bay, the Tuloma River, and the western part of Lapland. And when it was time to choose whom to put in charge of the incredibly perilous White Sea expedition, Ivan (Johann) Krusenstern immediately suggested Reinecke.

"Frankly, I must say that though I was flattered by being chose, I felt that it was hard to prove worthy of it, and therefore had to think for a while; and finally I decided to go after all," Reinecke recalled.

From 1826 and for six years onward, Reinecke spent every summer sailing and making charts of the coasts and islands of the White Sea and the mouth of the Northern Dvina. Arranging six successful expeditions was very difficult, as there were not enough sailors and officers. The turnover was enormous: apart from Reinecke himself, only three officers participated in all six voyages. During their expeditions, they not only mapped the coast of the White Sea, but also measured sea depths and made meteorological, geomagnetic, astronomical, and hydrological observations. Many of their studies were conducted for the first time in the world. For instance, the devices invented by Reinecke helped monitor fluctuations in sea level and water transparency in the open sea for the first time in history.

He also initiated the creation of skipper courses Arkhangelsk and Kem, and urged for the first lighthouses to be built on the White Sea. On three wintering expeditions alone, the hydrographers spent 1,399 days in the Arctic, travelling more than 1,500 kilometres by ship, on boats and on foot. Of the 56 people who participated in the first three expeditions, 14 did not return to Arkhangelsk. The expedition karbass Kazakov and the schooner Novaya Zemlya were lost.

Reinecke completed his hydrographic survey of the White Sea in the autumn of 1832. His enormous undertaking resulted in two major works: The Atlas of the White Sea, notable for its first-class quality, and Hydrographic Description of the Northern Coast of Russia. The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences awarded Reinecke its highest award, the Demidov Prize. The recognition was well-deserved: for the next hundred years, Reinecke's works remained the best navigational aid for sailing in the White Sea and off the coast of the Kola Peninsula.

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