By Kristin Prestvold
Hinlopenstretet is believed to have been named after Thymen Jacobz Hinlopen, one of the leaders of the Dutch merchant and whaling company of Noordsche Compagnie since 1617. If that is correct, the place was discovered very early. The same name was used on Blaeu’s map from 1662. Others of the same era, such as Valk and Schenk, use the name Waygat. Both names were used up until Scoresby in 1829. In 1827, Lieutenant Foster, one of the crew on Parry’s expedition, went southwards in Hinlopenstretet to map it, while Parry was busy trying to reach the North Pole. Foster went as far southwards in Hinlopenstretet as the group of islands that has been named after him (Fosterøyane), and he was able to confirm that everything on the old Dutch map was accurate in terms of his own observations. The map in question is probably that of Giles and Reps from 1714.
In 1864 Nordenskiöld saved the crew of six rowboats in Hinlopenstretet. The crews had been forced to leave three hunting vessels that had frozen into the ice south of Kapp Leigh Smith, north-east in Nordaustlandet. They chose to row around the south of Nordaustlandet and continue up Hinlopenstretet, which they regarded the most probable place to find ships that could save them. That means, in those days it was more probable that one would find hunting vessels along the north of Svalbard than in Storfjorden or by Edgeøya.
Updated April 2009
Norwegian Polar Institute