Month: December 2021

The Antarctic Adventures of Nils Larsen Sea Captain

It sounds like something out of an adventure novel. A captain sets foot on a land that no one has seen for 100 years. He sails the arctic seas, without the aid of current ships and technology. Nils Larsen Sea Captain would be perfectly at home in Moby Dick or Robinson Crusoe, but you’ll find him in the history books instead. 

Who Was Nils Larsen?

Nils Larsen was born in June 1900 in Sandar, Norway, and lived until September 1976. He lived a storied life and saw many changes in the world throughout his many years. Before he was a sea adventurer, he received his Master’s Degree. He then worked for a shipping company, and became a renowned whaler. He eventually became a captain, and had several ships. 

Antarctic Expeditions

Nils Larsen Sea Captain captained several whaling ships. Most of them were owned by Thor Dahl A/S of Sandefjord. He is most well known for his Norwagia expeditions to Antarctica. Lars Christensen, a whale-ship owner himself, financed the expeditions. He served as a first mate for these expeditions with Ola Olstad. 

He was the first person to set foot on Peter 1 Island in more than 100 years. There’s some argument over whether he was the first person to actually walk on the island. The expeditions furthered scientific research, and resulted in the annexation of two islands. 

Bouvet Island

In 1927, the first Norvegia expedition landed on Bouvet island, and claimed it for Norway. It was then named Bouvet Island. Previous expeditions included the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, who was the first to spot the island. The British laid claim to the island when George Norris made landfall in 1825. The island was declared a Norwegian dependency in 1930, resolving the dispute between the UK and Norway.

Peter 1 Island Discovery 

Peter 1 island was discovered by a crewman on the HIMS Vostok on January 21, 1821. It was one of two vessels sent out by Tsar Alexander 1. The expedition was led by the German-Baltic seafarer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. The island was named by Bellingshausen in honor of Tsar Peter 1, also known as Peter the Great. Bellingshausen himself only came within 15 nautical miles of the island due to the ice.  

Nils Larsen Sea Captain braved dense sea ice to make his way to Peter 1 Island. It’s hard to imagine what it was like, setting foot on the uninhabited and mysterious island. Taking in the magnificent views of the undisturbed land as it meets the ocean must have been one of the highlights of his life.

The cold is as hostile as the choppy seas. Even today, few venture to Peter 1 Island. The Atlas of remote islands proclaims Peter 1 as one of the most remote islands of the world. Only a handful of people have walked those shores. Nils Larsen, Sea Captain was one of them.