The amazing story about how a researcher found a Dundee whaling ship in the Arctic after 116 years is set to be revealed in the city next month.
As the Tele reported last year, Dr Matthew Ayre and Michael Moloney found wood from the whaling ship Nova Zembla off Baffin Bay, near Greenland.
Dr Ayre, of the Arctic Institute of North America, will next month reveal how he helped to find her.
Ahead of his talk at The McManus Collections Unit on Barrack Street, the Tele has combed through the archives to find out more about the Nova Zembla’s illustrious past.
The vessel – which was “foreign-built” but based in Dundee – crops up time and again in reports of ships arriving back from whaling expeditions.
Shipping records suggest she was built in 1873 and that she was put to work two years later.
Reporters of the day reckoned the “Novy” was a “fine specimen” – but just three years later she was nearly scrapped after she struck rocks while on the home leg of a successful excursion.
The steamer had been carrying 5,000 seals when she was stranded just a few miles from Lerwick in Shetland.
Attempts were made to recover her and she was eventually towed to Dundee amid fears she could not be saved.
But in November that year, news came from the city’s dry dock that the ship had been saved – and in March 1879 she rejoined the whaling fleet.
A Tele reporter of the time noted: “There’s doubt that the survival of the ship, after the rude shocks to which she was subjected on the rocks at Lerwick, is to be attributed her massive timbering and the great strength of her fastenings.”
The Nova Zembla endured her share of trials and tribulations, including crew deaths on board and an “extraordinary” incident off the coast of Broughty Ferry.
Three crew members left the ship when she was anchored off the beach in 1885, prompting the outraged captain to fire a gun at the small fishing boat in which they were going ashore.
The sailors hastily changed their mind.
By and large the Nova Zembla was largely successful, returning from the Davis Strait between Greenland and Canada with thousands of seals and a number of whales over the years.
But on March 31 1902, she was bid a “hearty adieu” as she set off on an expedition destined to be her last.
She set sail under new captain John Cooney, previously the ship’s mate for nine years. But in November, word reached home via sister whaler Eclipse that the “Novy” had run into trouble.
A Tele reporter wrote: “The captain reports that the whaler Nova Zembla, also of Dundee, struck a reef during a heavy gale.
“Every effort was made to save the vessel, but without avail, and the crew were rescued by the Eclipse and Diana.”
Captain Cooney moved on – losing two more ships in five years – but the Nova Zembla was left to rot and disappear from memory.
However, with the ship rediscovered by the intrepid researchers last year, her legacy is now unlikely to be forgotten.
The talk “Seven hours, a rubber dinghy and a shipwreck”, is on March 28 at 6.30pm.
Visit novazembla.eventbrite.co.uk to book a free place.