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Sir John Ross: Fuelled by Gin
Sir John Ross (1777-1856) had a somewhat tarnished reputation as an Arctic explorer at one point, primarily due to his mistaking a mirage for a mountain range and naming it after a Secretary of the British Admiralty.
When the Royal Navy refused to supply him with any more ships, he got private funding from the Sheriff of London, Felix Booth (who made a fortune from Booth's Gin), and set off in 1829 in the Victory - a rickety, three-masted, steam-driven sidewheeler. He hoped to restore his reputation with a successful Arctic expedition, and discover the Northwest Passage... or the North Magnetic Pole... or the North Pole... anything - as long as it didn't go "poof" and disappear!
His ship became icebound and the expedition was stranded until 1833. Ross was thought to have perished, and when he returned to England he was knighted in honour of the four Arctic winters he endured, and for bringing his men through with few losses.
Ross survived by recognizing and using the methods of the Inuit. This not only allowed him to survive, but to make good use of all that spare time and do some exploring. His nephew, James Clark Ross, was also on the expedition and he made good use of the time and his knowledge of terrestrial magnetism to discover the location of the North Magnetic Pole!
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