Voyage on the Atlantis
Dr. Soutter developed an intense interest
in history and science during his Harvard years (1927-1931). In the early 1930s he and a friend, Graham
Webster, took a 1500-mile canoe trip through the wilds of the Yukon, much
of it through unmapped territory. Graham sustained a serious injury
and both young men barely made it out of the wilderness alive.
In July 1931 Lamar signed on to be a crew member on the maiden sail of the Atlantis, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's first research vessel (pictured at left center). Henry Bryant Bigelow, first Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and professor of zoology at Harvard, received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to build this vessel and to embark upon oceanographic and hydrographic investigations.
The voyage was fraught with problems from the start. It began in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a newly-built ship of new design. After picking up some of the crew in Plymouth, England, they encountered rough weather and the ship experienced several mechanical problems. Since the crew was immobilized from seasickness, Captain Columbus Iselin himself was left to correct the problems. In the process of doing so, his foot was crushed. There was no doctor on board to deal with this injury and several other serious accidents that occurred. It was this harrowing sea adventure that made the young college graduate decide to continue on to medical school, even though he was still not 100% committed to that course of action at the time.
At left bottom is a photograph of some of the crew of the Atlantis enjoying a rare leisurely moment on deck. Lamar Soutter is pictured on the right.
Web Resources for Further Information:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - WHOI history
Sources used on this page:
- Harvard College, Class of 1931, 25th Anniversary Report 1931-1956.
- Schlee, Susan. On Almost Any Wind. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978.
- Slide collection of H. B. Wheeler, M.D., Harry M. Haidak Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Emeritus