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ONE of the world's strangest sea stories is still unfinished, and looks like remaining so for a long time, perhaps for ever. This is the story of the Baychimo, the deserted ghost ship that refuses to die and still haunts human memory and curiosity.
A fine, trim, solid steel 1,322-ton cargo steamer owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, the Baychimo was built in Sweden in 1914. She was originally used to collect furs from Eskimo trappers along the Victoria Island coast of Canada's North-West Territory. With her single tall funnel, curved bridge and long high prow, the Baychimo was sturdily built to withstand the floes and pack-ice of the dangerous northern waters in which she operated.
She actually pioneered fur trading with the Eskimo settlements around the Beaufort Sea, forging her way many times on her 3,200-kilometre round trip through some of the most treacherous shipping lanes in the world. Each year she set out on a regular voyage, always a tough and difficult one, delivering food, fuel and other supplies to, and loading pelts from, eight of the Hudson Bay Company's lonely outposts.
On 6 july 1931 she left Vancouver, British Columbia, on such a …