Jean-Baptiste Charcot

15 July 1867 – 15 September 1936

Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Nationality: French
Place of Birth: unknown
Grave: unknown

Biography

Charcot was a French physician with a passion for sailing – he was also called “the gentleman of the Pole” by Robert F. Scott. He obtained his first sailing vessel, naming it the Francais. His original plans were to sail north to the Arctic, but changed his mind to go south and try to locate the missing explorer Nordenskjöld. On 15 August 1903, Charcot departed from Le Havre. In Buenos Aires, the news that Nordenskjöld had been saved by an Argentine ship changed Charcot’s mind and made him want to explore the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. On 19 February 1904, they came upon Port Lockroy on Wiencke Island. They spent the winter at Port Charcot, located in a bay, on the north coast of Booth Island. Charcot later sold the Francais to the Argentine government, and returned home to find that his wife had left him. On 15 August 1908 he started his second expedition with his second wife Meg – they sailed from Le Havre in their new yacht, the “Pourquoi Pas?” (“why not?”). On 25 December 1908, Charcot followed up on his research on the west side of the Peninsula that he started on his voyage with the Francais. He discovered Adelaide Island, and came across a bay, naming it Marguerite Bay, after his wife Meg. In 1909 they spent their winter at Petermann Island, and the “Pourquoi Pas?” became iced in at Port Circumcision. On 11 January 1910 Charcot came across unknown land at 70°S, 76°W, naming it Charcot Land – after his father. The outcome of this expedition was the accurate drawings of the maps.

26 years later on 15 September 1936, Charcot and the “Pourquoi Pas?” set sail in stormy waters. Sadly, 44 crewmember’s, including Charcot’s, lives were taken. Only one person survived.