John Sakeouse was born in Disco Bay, Greenland, an anchorage much frequented by whalers. At the age of eighteen he persuaded Captain Newton of the Thomas and Ann to ship him and his kayak back to Edinburgh, arriving in Leith in August 1816. He gave a series of demonstrations of his skills on the harbour in his sixteen pound kayak, beating locals for speed and dazzling them with his rolls and the accuracy of his dart and harpoon throwing. This drawing of Sakeouse was made on his arrival in Leith by Amelia Anderson and shows him paddling in his kayak. In 1818 Sakeouse was recruited as an interpreter on an Admiralty-sponsored Arctic expedition and was by all accounts a valuable member of the crew.