In 1795, Alaskan colonial supremo A.A. Baranov sent a letter to his bosses in Irkutsk. The text in Tikhmenev's History, Volume II, Documents, says:

An English ship wintered in Kamchatka in 1793.... The English were well-armed....

If Baranov was correct, what ship was this, and where did it spend the winter?

2 Answers 2


In a letter from Baranov to Shelikhov, written in July 1793, he mentions an English ship named Phoenix. It doesn't explicitly mention when the ship arrived there or if it had wintered there.

Here I encountered the English ship Phoenix, 2 masts, 85 feet long. This ship has sailed from East Indian to Canton, Manila, and then to Nootka in America, and from there followed the coast to Chugach Bay. On this voyage, trading with different people, they accumulated a big quantity of furs. During a storm, they lost two masts and now were replacing them in Chugach Bay. Their intention was to sail back to Canton. The captain, by the name of Moore, is an Englishman from Ireland. At first he was afraid of my fleet of baidarkas and the natives, but finally we became friends and during bad weather I spent five days on board his ship and had all my meals with him.

However, the reply from Shelikhov does indicate that foreign ships were unwelcome

We are very much astonished at your unconcern about the visit of the English ship (Phoenix, Capt Hugh Moore). You knew, even before you got the new regulations, that visits by foreign vessels cannot be tolerated. … The ship you met was in serious danger from natives, but you warned them. I don’t think that would have had such friendly assistance if you happened to be at Nootka or California. Probably we would have had to say farewell to you, and would never have seen you again….. In the future….be bold enough to tell the foreigners that they have no right to trade.

So this English ship may have been the only one to visit at that time.

  • 1
    For some additional information, the ship talked about by Baranov was not HMS Phoenix as that ship (launched 1783, wrecked 1816) was a 5th Rate Frigate (36 Guns) with 3 masts, and in 1793 was deployed as part of a squadron in the North Sea.
    – Kobunite
    Dec 20, 2017 at 8:52
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    @Kobunite I did a quick check on HMS Phoenix but given the reference to fur trading I thought it was more likely to be a merchant vessel. Given the route it's possibly a HEIC vessel.
    – Steve Bird
    Dec 20, 2017 at 9:46
  • Agreed, it definitely sounds like a merchant - just thought I'd leave a comment in case anyone was going to start with HMS Phoenix. Unfortunately, I expect that tracking down an individual brig or 2 masted ship will prove very difficult outside of the RN and even if it were possible, its unlikely that the ships log will be available or would contain information on where they wintered.
    – Kobunite
    Dec 20, 2017 at 10:43
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    Apparently Baranov was rather impressed by this vessel, or at least its name. He named a Russian vessel the Phoenix in 1794.
    – justCal
    Dec 20, 2017 at 14:46
  • I believe that Baranov wrote that Moore had visited him in Alaska, not Kamchatka. Oct 7, 2018 at 4:09

According to James Gibson's "Otter Skins, Boston Ships and China Goods", the ship was the Halcyon of Captain Charles Barkley. At Petropavlovsk (the only practical place to winter in Kamchatka) in 1793, it attempted to sell "ironwware, rum, anchors, cables, cordage" but despite the goods' low prices, the commandant said he had no authority to buy anything, and local merchants said they had no cash. Unusually, Captain Barkley had the company of his family on board.

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