A Skipper in the Arctic Seas. Walter J. Clutterbuck.
A Skipper in the Arctic Seas


A Skipper in the Arctic Seas.

London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1890.

First edition. Folding colored map, frontispiece, 18 plates & illustrations to text. viii, 271, [blank] pp. 8vo. LAND-LUBBERS IN THE ARCTIC. Faux tree calf, spine gilt, red morocco label to spine gilt, all edges marbled, some discreet library stamps and minor spotting. A very good copy Item #304082

A jolly account of two "land-lubbers" who charter a whaling vessel and sail to the east coast of Greenland, Jan Mayen and Spitzbergen. Clutterbuck makes no excuses for himself and fellow sailor stating that they know "nothing about the places we were going to or of the 'paraphernalia' of Arctic travel", and their awareness of the sea is limited to it being a "dismally damp place."

They departed Peterhead on the whaler Traveller (partially covered in zinc to protect against against the ice) on May 1, 1888, for a five month voyage. Clutterbuck initally struggled to settle into life at sea, first due to sea-sickness and then due to odd meal times. And once he'd finally acclimatised, they immediately found themselves in a fog which took ten days to pass. Their muddled bearings are evident on the folding map.

Clutterbuck is a keen observer of life on deck and the world around him. He describes the rocky desolation of Jan Mayen, the dramatic coast of Spitzbergen ("a rocky eminence so steep ... it would defy a bird to fly up it"), the ice, and the particulars of the Arctic climate in great detail. They also took every opportunity for sport: killing eight hundred and seventy-six seals, four reindeer and one polar bear on the journey and much of the work is devoted to it. Interspersed with all this are hot baths, huge breakfasts ("if there is anything we consider delicious in this sinful world it is young seals kidneys"), and evening pipes.

Although published by Longmans, much about this book suggests Clutterbuck contributed toward costs. Probably printed in small numbers, its scarcity on the market is confirmed by no copies being listed on ABPC or Rare Book Hub.

Price: $2,000.00 Free International Delivery