July 01, 2006

Ivan Kruzenshtern

Russia’s first circumnavigation 

Ivan Fyodorovich Kruzenshtern was connected with the sea his entire life. His father’s estate was on the Baltic coast, not far from Revel, as Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was known at the end of the 18th century. The Baltic Sea was shallow and cold, but it was a sea nonetheless, and, living on its shores, it was easy to dream of other seas. Today, virtually everyone has seen the sea, no matter where they might live, even if it is only on television or in photographs. It is hard for us to imagine that, in centuries past, it was possible to live an entire lifetime without the slightest conception of what ocean waves were like. There was a reason that the navy enlisted those who had grown up on the coast. They had known the sea since childhood. 

Kruzenshtern became a naval officer, but who knows? Perhaps, reading of distant voyages, he imagined that all oceans looked like the smooth-as-glass Baltic. Years passed, and the young man traveled to England,  sailed the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Oceans, it turned out, came in every imaginable variety, and at some point Kruzenshtern started to dream of something monumental. He drew up a proposal, A Thousandfold Reflections, in which he argued for the necessity of organizing the first Russian expedition to circumnavigate the globe. 

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