In the early months of 1846, a hundred and twenty-six sailors and officers, commanded by Captain John Franklin of the Royal British Navy, sailed south from their winter harbor on Beechey Island, in the Canadian Arctic. They went in search of the Northwest Passage, the fabled route connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific; what they found instead was some of the thickest sea ice in the world. Their two ships, H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror, became trapped in Victoria Strait. After two winters on the ice, the survivors, weakened by scurvy, starvation, and lead poisoning from poorly canned goods, made a desperate break for the mainland. They died hundreds of miles from safety. Not until September of 2014 was the wreck of the Erebus discovered, at the bottom of Queen Maud Gulf; the Terror is still missing.
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