Iceland has been inhabited since it was colonized from
Norway in 874 AD.
The 3 mast bark Pourquoi Pas? was built of wood in St Malô, France, in 1908. It was heavily reinforced and used for polar exploration by the researcher Dr Charcot.
In 1936 the ship was at the coast near Alftanes. A storm threw her on a reef so violently that the keel broke, the hull contents were flushed out and the ship sank quickly. 40 died and one man survived. There remained no visible trace of the ship and the exact location remained unknown.
The wreck was rediscovered in the 1960s by a helmet diver but forgotten again.
In 1984 archaeologist Jean-Yves Blot started to search for the wreck. The old helmet diver was dead by then, but the diver's colleague could give an approximate position. Following those directions, the wreck was found after 2-3 days' optical search by divers.
The wreckage was laying flat on a rocky seabottom, covered by vegetation growing 2-3 m high. The remaining fragments were well preserved in the cold water.
Among other objects, an intact bottle of Bordeaux red wine was recovered. The recovered objects are at the National Museum in Reykjavik and the Musée de la Marine in Paris.
Per Åkesson, Sept 1999
rev jan '03