Polar Explorers

Jacobsen.pngTheodor Claudius Jacobsen (1855-1933)

Jacobsen was the mate on the first Fram expedition.

Theodor Claudius Jacobsen was born in Tromsø where his father was a ship’s captain, later harbour master and master ship’s pilot. At 17 years of age Theodor took the exam at the Navigation School in Tromsø and the following year he took his mate’s exam. In 1875 he became 2nd mate on the schooner Messina of Arendal, and in 1878 on the Daphne of Arendal. He sailed for a couple of years for the copra trade in Australia and New Zealand for local owners before he gained his captain’s certificate in Tromsø in 1884. In 1891 he went with Prince Henri de Bourbon to Svalbard as guide, ice pilot and hunter on the yacht Fleur de Lys. He was married in Tromsø at the end of 1888 and had one child before leaving on the Fram.

At the beginning of October 1892 Jacobsen wrote to Nansen that he wished to be accepted as the mate on the planned expedition. He was recommended before another from Tromsø as a suitably experienced mate who kept a good ship, with respect and order. He travelled from Tromsø 17 February 1893 to join in the preparations for the expedition.

After the Fram expedition Jacobsen lived in Tromsø for a few months before he early in 1897 gained the position of lighthouse keeper at Obrestad lighthouse in Jæren, south Norway. He stayed in this job until he was pensioned in 1917. Jacobsen then had the chance to be an ice pilot for two years, on the Forsete, which belonged to the Svalbard coal company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani, where Jacobsen’s son-in-law was manager. He suffered a stroke in 1926 and was partly lame and bed-ridden at home in Stavanger till his death.

He was said to be fond of betting on the Fram expedition and he could also sing sailors’ songs with melancholy feeling. Captain Sverdrup thought he was lazy, since he could lie on his bunk for long periods when he had nothing else to do.

"Victory awaits him, who has everything in order - luck we call it.  Defeat is definitely due for him, who has neglected to take the necessary precautions - bad luck we call it"

Roald Amundsen

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