English explorer’s fleet hits bad weather

On today’s date in 1578, 16th-century English explorer Martin Frobisher reassembled his fleet after an intense storm caused one ship to be crushed by ice.

In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint featured Frobisher on a $20 Proof silver coin. Designed by Laurie McGraw, the coin has a weight of 27.78 grams, a diameter of 40 mm and a mintage of 15,000. The coin was issued to mark the 125th anniversary of the first International Polar Year – the first of several multinational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic – and prominently feature Frobisher, who made the first to attempt to discover the Northwest Passage aboard the Gabriel in 1576. A ship appears alongside a 16th-century compass and an Inuit paddling a traditional kayak.

On June 3, 1578, Frobisher’s expedition left England and sailed the English Channel to the south of Greenland, where Frobisher and some of his men reached land. One month later, on July 2, Frobisher Bay was sighted; however, stormy weather and dangerous ice caused many problems, one of which was the wreck of the 100-ton sailing vessel Dennis. The storm drove the fleet up a new strait (the Furious Overfall, later renamed the Hudson Straight), and after unwittingly traversing about 100 kilometres up the strait, Frobisher turned back, resting with his fleet in the bay he was later named after.

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