Part 2 out of 10
the ship. I estimated this fin to be 4 feet high.
It is pretty to see the snow petrel and Antarctic petrel diving
on to the upturned and flooded floes. The wash of water sweeps the
Euphausia  across such submerged ice. The Antarctic petrel has a
pretty crouching attitude.
Notes On Nicknames
Wilson Bill, Uncle Bill, Uncle
Simpson Sunny Jim
Campbell The Mate, Mr. Mate
Taylor Griff and Keir Hardy
Nelson Marie and Bronte
Wright Silas, Toronto
Atkinson Jane, Helmin, Atchison
Oates Titus, Soldier, 'Farmer Hayseed' (by Bowers)
Levick Toffarino, the Old Sport
Lillie Lithley, Hercules, Lithi_6_
_Tuesday, December_ 20.--Noon 68 deg. 41' S., 179 deg. 28' W. Made good S. 36
W. 58; C. Crozier S. 20 W. 563'.--The good conditions held up to
midnight last night; we went from lead to lead with only occasional
small difficulties. At 9 o'clock we passed along the western edge of
a big stream of very heavy bay ice--such ice as would come out late
in the season from the inner reaches and bays of Victoria Sound,
where the snows drift deeply. For a moment one imagined a return to
our bad conditions, but we passed this heavy stuff in an hour and
came again to the former condition, making our way in leads between
floes of great area.
Bowers reported a floe of 12 square miles in the middle watch. We
made very fair progress during the night, and an excellent run in the
morning watch. Before eight a moderate breeze sprang up from the west
and the ice began to close. We have worked our way a mile or two on
since, but with much difficulty, so that we have now decided to bank
fires and wait for the ice to open again; meanwhile we shall sound
and get a haul with tow nets. I'm afraid we are still a long way from
the open water; the floes are large, and where we have stopped they
seem to be such as must have been formed early last winter. The signs
of pressure have increased again. Bergs were very scarce last night,
but there are several around us to-day. One has a number of big humps
on top. It is curious to think how these big blocks became perched so
high. I imagine the berg must have been calved from a region of hard
pressure ridges. [Later] This is a mistake--on closer inspection it
is quite clear that the berg has tilted and that a great part of the
upper strata, probably 20 feet deep, has slipped off, leaving the
humps as islands on top.
It looks as though we must exercise patience again; progress is more
difficult than in the worst of our experiences yesterday, but the
outlook is very much brighter. This morning there were many dark
shades of open water sky to the south; the westerly wind ruffling
the water makes these cloud shadows very dark.
The barometer has been very steady for several days and we ought to
have fine weather: this morning a lot of low cloud came from the
S.W., at one time low enough to become fog--the clouds are rising
and dissipating, and we have almost a clear blue sky with sunshine.
_Evening_.--The wind has gone from west to W.S.W. and still blows
nearly force 6. We are lying very comfortably alongside a floe with
open water to windward for 200 or 300 yards. The sky has been clear
most of the day, fragments of low stratus occasionally hurry across
the sky and a light cirrus is moving with some speed. Evidently it
is blowing hard in the upper current. The ice has closed--I trust it
will open well when the wind lets up. There is a lot of open water
behind us. The berg described this morning has been circling round
us, passing within 800 yards; the bearing and distance have altered
so un-uniformly that it is evident that the differential movement
between the surface water and the berg-driving layers (from 100 to
200 metres down) is very irregular. We had several hours on the floe
practising ski running, and thus got some welcome exercise. Coal is
now the great anxiety--we are making terrible inroads on our supply--we
have come 240 miles since we first entered the pack streams.
The sounding to-day gave 1804 fathoms--the water bottle didn't work,
but temperatures were got at 1300 and bottom.
The temperature was down to 20 deg. last night and kept 2 or 3 degrees
below freezing all day.
The surface for ski-ing to-day was very good.
_Wednesday, December_ 21.--The wind was still strong this morning,
but had shifted to the south-west. With an overcast sky it was very
cold and raw. The sun is now peeping through, the wind lessening and
the weather conditions generally improving. During the night we had
been drifting towards two large bergs, and about breakfast time we
were becoming uncomfortably close to one of them--the big floes were
binding down on one another, but there seemed to be open water to
the S.E., if we could work out in that direction.
(_Note_.--All directions of wind are given 'true' in this book.)
_Noon Position_.--68 deg. 25' S., 179 deg. 11' W. Made good S. 26 E. 2.5'. Set
of current N., 32 E. 9.4'. Made good 24 hours--N. 40 E. 8'. We got the
steam up and about 9 A.M. commenced to push through. Once or twice
we have spent nearly twenty minutes pushing through bad places, but
it looks as though we are getting to easier water. It's distressing
to have the pack so tight, and the bergs make it impossible to lie
comfortably still for any length of time.
Ponting has made some beautiful photographs and Wilson some charming
pictures of the pack and bergs; certainly our voyage will be well
illustrated. We find quite a lot of sketching talent. Day, Taylor,
Debenham, and Wright all contribute to the elaborate record of the
bergs and ice features met with.
5 P.M.--The wind has settled to a moderate gale from S.W. We went
2 1/2 miles this morning, then became jammed again. The effort has
taken us well clear of the threatening bergs. Some others to leeward
now are a long way off, but they _are_ there and to leeward, robbing
our position of its full measure of security. Oh! but it's mighty
trying to be delayed and delayed like this, and coal going all the
time--also we are drifting N. and E.--the pack has carried us 9'
N. and 6' E. It really is very distressing. I don't like letting
fires go out with these bergs about.
Wilson went over the floe to capture some penguins and lay flat on the
surface. We saw the birds run up to him, then turn within a few feet
and rush away again. He says that they came towards him when he was
singing, and ran away again when he stopped. They were all one year
birds, and seemed exceptionally shy; they appear to be attracted to
the ship by a fearful curiosity._7_
A chain of bergs must form a great obstruction to a field of pack ice,
largely preventing its drift and forming lanes of open water. Taken
in conjunction with the effect of bergs in forming pressure ridges,
it follows that bergs have a great influence on the movement as well
as the nature of pack.
_Thursday, December_ 22.--Noon 68 deg. 26' 2'' S., 197 deg. 8' 5'' W. Sit. N. 5
E. 8.5'.--No change. The wind still steady from the S.W., with a
clear sky and even barometer. It looks as though it might last any
time. This is sheer bad luck. We have let the fires die out; there
are bergs to leeward and we must take our chance of clearing them--we
cannot go on wasting coal.
There is not a vestige of swell, and with the wind in this direction
there certainly ought to be if the open water was reasonably close. No,
it looks as though we'd struck a streak of real bad luck; that
fortune has determined to put every difficulty in our path. We have
less than 300 tons of coal left in a ship that simply eats coal. It's
alarming--and then there are the ponies going steadily down hill in
condition. The only encouragement is the persistence of open water to
the east and south-east to south; big lanes of open water can be seen
in that position, but we cannot get to them in this pressed up pack.
Atkinson has discovered a new tapeworm in the intestines of the Adelie
penguin--a very tiny worm one-eighth of an inch in length with a
A crumb of comfort comes on finding that we have not drifted to the
_Friday, December_ 23.--The wind fell light at about ten last night
and the ship swung round. Sail was set on the fore, and she pushed a
few hundred yards to the north, but soon became jammed again. This
brought us dead to windward of and close to a large berg with the
wind steadily increasing. Not a very pleasant position, but also
not one that caused much alarm. We set all sail, and with this help
the ship slowly carried the pack round, pivoting on the berg until,
as the pressure relieved, she slid out into the open water close
to the berg. Here it was possible to 'wear ship,' and we saw a fair
prospect of getting away to the east and afterwards south. Following
the leads up we made excellent progress during the morning watch,
and early in the forenoon turned south, and then south-west.
We had made 8 1/2' S. 22 E. and about 5' S.S.W. by 1 P.M., and could
see a long lead of water to the south, cut off only by a broad strip
of floe with many water holes in it: a composite floe. There was just
a chance of getting through, but we have stuck half-way, advance and
retreat equally impossible under sail alone. Steam has been ordered
but will not be ready till near midnight. Shall we be out of the pack
by Christmas Eve?
The floes to-day have been larger but thin and very sodden. There
are extensive water pools showing in patches on the surface, and one
notes some that run in line as though extending from cracks; also here
and there close water-free cracks can be seen. Such floes might well
be termed '_composite_' floes, since they evidently consist of old
floes which have been frozen together--the junction being concealed
by more recent snow falls.
A month ago it would probably have been difficult to detect
inequalities or differences in the nature of the parts of the floes,
but now the younger ice has become waterlogged and is melting rapidly,
hence the pools.
I am inclined to think that nearly all the large floes as well as
many of the smaller ones are 'composite,' and this would seem to show
that the cementing of two floes does not necessarily mean a line of
weakness, provided the difference in the thickness of the cemented
floes is not too great; of course, young ice or even a single season's
sea ice cannot become firmly attached to the thick old bay floes,
and hence one finds these isolated even at this season of the year.
Very little can happen in the personal affairs of our company in this
comparatively dull time, but it is good to see the steady progress
that proceeds unconsciously in cementing the happy relationship that
exists between the members of the party. Never could there have been
a greater freedom from quarrels and trouble of all sorts. I have
not heard a harsh word or seen a black look. A spirit of tolerance
and good humour pervades the whole community, and it is glorious to
realise that men can live under conditions of hardship, monotony,
and danger in such bountiful good comradeship.
Preparations are now being made for Christmas festivities. It is
curious to think that we have already passed the longest day in the
Saw a whale this morning--estimated 25 to 30 feet. Wilson thinks a
new species. Find Adelie penguins in batches of twenty or so. Do not
remember having seen so many together in the pack.
_After midnight, December_ 23.--Steam was reported ready at 11
P.M. After some pushing to and fro we wriggled out of our ice prison
and followed a lead to opener waters.
We have come into a region where the open water exceeds the ice; the
former lies in great irregular pools 3 or 4 miles or more across and
connecting with many leads. The latter, and the fact is puzzling, still
contain floes of enormous dimensions; we have just passed one which
is at least 2 miles in diameter. In such a scattered sea we cannot
go direct, but often have to make longish detours; but on the whole
in calm water and with a favouring wind we make good progress. With
the sea even as open as we find it here it is astonishing to find the
floes so large, and clearly there cannot be a southerly swell. The
floes have water pools as described this afternoon, and none average
more than 2 feet in thickness. We have two or three bergs in sight.
_Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve_.--69 deg. 1' S., 178 deg. 29' W. S. 22
E. 29'; C. Crozier 551'. Alas! alas! at 7 A.M. this morning we were
brought up with a solid sheet of pack extending in all directions,
save that from which we had come. I must honestly own that I turned
in at three thinking we had come to the end of our troubles; I had
a suspicion of anxiety when I thought of the size of the floes, but
I didn't for a moment suspect we should get into thick pack again
behind those great sheets of open water.
All went well till four, when the white wall again appeared ahead--at
five all leads ended and we entered the pack; at seven we were close
up to an immense composite floe, about as big as any we've seen. She
wouldn't skirt the edge of this and she wouldn't go through it. There
was nothing to do but to stop and bank fires. How do we stand?--Any
day or hour the floes may open up, leaving a road to further open
water to the south, but there is no guarantee that one would not be
hung up again and again in this manner as long as these great floes
exist. In a fortnight's time the floes will have crumbled somewhat,
and in many places the ship will be able to penetrate them.
What to do under these circumstances calls for the most difficult
If one lets fires out it means a dead loss of over 2 tons, when the
boiler has to be heated again. But this 2 tons would only cover a day
under banked fires, so that for anything longer than twenty-four hours
it is economy to put the fires out. At each stoppage one is called upon
to decide whether it is to be for more or less than twenty-four hours.
Last night we got some five or six hours of good going ahead--but it
has to be remembered that this costs 2 tons of coal in addition to
that expended in doing the distance.
If one waits one probably drifts north--in all other respects
conditions ought to be improving, except that the southern edge of
the pack will be steadly augmenting.
Rough Summary of Current in Pack
Dec. Current Wind
11-12 S. 48 E. 12'? N. by W. 3 to 5
13-14 N. 20 W. 2' N.W. by W. 0-2
14-15 N. 2 E. 5.2' S.W. 1-2
15-17 apparently little current variable light
20-21 N. 32 E. 9.4 N.W. to W.S.W. 4 to 6
21-22 N. 5 E. 8.5 West 4 to 5
The above seems to show that the drift is generally with the wind. We
have had a predominance of westerly winds in a region where a
predominance of easterly might be expected.
Now that we have an easterly, what will be the result?
_Sunday, December_ 25, _Christmas Day_.--Dead reckoning 69 deg. 5'
S., 178 deg. 30' E. The night before last I had bright hopes that this
Christmas Day would see us in open water. The scene is altogether
too Christmassy. Ice surrounds us, low nimbus clouds intermittently
discharging light snow flakes obscure the sky, here and there small
pools of open water throw shafts of black shadow on to the cloud--this
black predominates in the direction from whence we have come, elsewhere
the white haze of ice blink is pervading.
We are captured. We do practically nothing under sail to push
through, and could do little under steam, and at each step forward
the possibility of advance seems to lessen.
The wind which has persisted from the west for so long fell light
last night, and to-day comes from the N.E. by N., a steady breeze
from 2 to 3 in force. Since one must have hope, ours is pinned to
the possible effect of a continuance of easterly wind. Again the
call is for patience and again patience. Here at least we seem to
enjoy full security. The ice is so thin that it could not hurt by
pressure--there are no bergs within reasonable distance--indeed the
thinness of the ice is one of the most tantalising conditions. In
spite of the unpropitious prospect everyone on board is cheerful and
one foresees a merry dinner to-night.
The mess is gaily decorated with our various banners. There was full
attendance at the Service this morning and a lusty singing of hymns.
Should we now try to go east or west?
I have been trying to go west because the majority of tracks lie that
side and no one has encountered such hard conditions as ours--otherwise
there is nothing to point to this direction, and all through the last
week the prospect to the west has seemed less promising than in other
directions; in spite of orders to steer to the S.W. when possible it
has been impossible to push in that direction.
An event of Christmas was the production of a family by Crean's
rabbit. She gave birth to 17, it is said, and Crean has given away 22!
I don't know what will become of the parent or family; at present
they are warm and snug enough, tucked away in the fodder under the
_Midnight_.--To-night the air is thick with falling snow; the
temperature 28 deg.. It is cold and slushy without.
A merry evening has just concluded. We had an excellent dinner: tomato
soup, penguin breast stewed as an entree, roast beef, plum-pudding,
and mince pies, asparagus, champagne, port and liqueurs--a festive
menu. Dinner began at 6 and ended at 7. For five hours the company
has been sitting round the table singing lustily; we haven't much
talent, but everyone has contributed more or less, 'and the choruses
are deafening. It is rather a surprising circumstance that such an
unmusical party should be so keen on singing. On Xmas night it was
kept up till 1 A.M., and no work is done without a chanty. I don't
know if you have ever heard sea chanties being sung. The merchant
sailors have quite a repertoire, and invariably call on it when
getting up anchor or hoisting sails. Often as not they are sung in
a flat and throaty style, but the effect when a number of men break
into the chorus is generally inspiriting.'
The men had dinner at midday--much the same fare, but with beer
and some whisky to drink. They seem to have enjoyed themselves
much. Evidently the men's deck contains a very merry band.
There are three groups of penguins roosting on the floes quite close
to the ship. I made the total number of birds 39. We could easily
capture these birds, and so it is evident that food can always be
obtained in the pack.
To-night I noticed a skua gull settle on an upturned block of ice at
the edge of the floe on which several penguins were preparing for
rest. It is a fact that the latter held a noisy confabulation with
the skua as subject--then they advanced as a body towards it; within a
few paces the foremost penguin halted and turned, and then the others
pushed him on towards the skua. One after another they jibbed at being
first to approach their enemy, and it was only with much chattering
and mutual support that they gradually edged towards him.
They couldn't reach him as he was perched on a block, but when they
got quite close the skua, who up to that time had appeared quite
unconcerned, flapped away a few yards and settled close on the other
side of the group of penguins. The latter turned and repeated their
former tactics until the skua finally flapped away altogether. It
really was extraordinarily interesting to watch the timorous protesting
movements of the penguins. The frame of mind producing every action
could be so easily imagined and put into human sentiments.
On the other side of the ship part of another group of penguins
were quarrelling for the possession of a small pressure block which
offered only the most insecure foothold. The scrambling antics to
secure the point of vantage, the ousting of the bird in possession,
and the incontinent loss of balance and position as each bird reached
the summit of his ambition was almost as entertaining as the episode
of the skua. Truly these little creatures afford much amusement.
_Monday, December 26_.--Obs. 69 deg. 9' S., 178 deg. 13' W. Made good 48 hours,
S. 35 E. 10'.--The position to-night is very cheerless. All hope
that this easterly wind will open the pack seems to have vanished. We
are surrounded with compacted floes of immense area. Openings appear
between these floes and we slide crab-like from one to another with
long delays between. It is difficult to keep hope alive. There are
streaks of water sky over open leads to the north, but everywhere to
the south we have the uniform white sky. The day has been overcast
and the wind force 3 to 5 from the E.N.E.--snow has fallen from time
to time. There could scarcely be a more dreary prospect for the eye
to rest upon.
As I lay in my bunk last night I seemed to note a measured crush on
the brash ice, and to-day first it was reported that the floes had
become smaller, and then we seemed to note a sort of measured send
alongside the ship. There may be a long low swell, but it is not
helping us apparently; to-night the floes around are indisputably
as large as ever and I see little sign of their breaking or becoming
less tightly locked.
It is a very, very trying time.
We have managed to make 2 or 3 miles in a S.W. (?) direction under
sail by alternately throwing her aback, then filling sail and pressing
through the narrow leads; probably this will scarcely make up for our
drift. It's all very disheartening. The bright side is that everyone
is prepared to exert himself to the utmost--however poor the result
of our labours may show.
Rennick got a sounding again to-day, 1843 fathoms.
One is much struck by our inability to find a cause for the periodic
opening and closing of the floes. One wonders whether there is a reason
to be found in tidal movement. In general, however, it seems to show
that our conditions are governed by remote causes. Somewhere well
north or south of us the wind may be blowing in some other direction,
tending to press up or release pressure; then again such sheets of open
water as those through which we passed to the north afford space into
which bodies of pack can be pushed. The exasperating uncertainty of
one's mind in such captivity is due to ignorance of its cause and
inability to predict the effect of changes of wind. One can only
vaguely comprehend that things are happening far beyond our horizon
which directly affect our situation.
_Tuesday, December_ 27.--Dead reckoning 69 deg. 12' S., 178 deg. 18' W. We
made nearly 2 miles in the first watch--half push, half drift. Then
the ship was again held up. In the middle the ice was close around,
even pressing on us, and we didn't move a yard. The wind steadily
increased and has been blowing a moderate gale, shifting in direction
to E.S.E. We are reduced to lower topsails.
In the morning watch we began to move again, the ice opening out with
the usual astonishing absence of reason. We have made a mile or two in
a westerly direction in the same manner as yesterday. The floes seem
a little smaller, but our outlook is very limited; there is a thick
haze, and the only fact that can be known is that there are pools of
water at intervals for a mile or two in the direction in which we go.
We commence to move between two floes, make 200 or 300 yards, and
are then brought up bows on to a large lump. This may mean a wait
of anything from ten minutes to half an hour, whilst the ship swings
round, falls away, and drifts to leeward. When clear she forges ahead
again and the operation is repeated. Occasionally when she can get
a little way on she cracks the obstacle and slowly passes through
it. There is a distinct swell--very long, very low. I counted the
period as about nine seconds. Everyone says the ice is breaking up. I
have not seen any distinct evidence myself, but Wilson saw a large
floe which had recently cracked into four pieces in such a position
that the ship could not have caused it. The breaking up of the big
floes is certainly a hopeful sign.
'I have written quite a lot about the pack ice when under ordinary
conditions I should have passed it with few words. But you will
scarcely be surprised when I tell you what an obstacle we have found
it on this occasion.'
I was thinking during the gale last night that our position might
be a great deal worse than it is. We were lying amongst the floes
perfectly peacefully whilst the wind howled through the rigging. One
felt quite free from anxiety as to the ship, the sails, the bergs
or ice pressures. One calmly went below and slept in the greatest
comfort. One thought of the ponies, but after all, horses have been
carried for all time in small ships, and often enough for very long
voyages. The Eastern Party  will certainly benefit by any delay
we may make; for them the later they get to King Edward's Land the
better. The depot journey of the Western Party will be curtailed,
but even so if we can get landed in January there should be time for
a good deal of work. One must confess that things might be a great
deal worse and there would be little to disturb one if one's release
was certain, say in a week's time.
I'm afraid the ice-house is not going on so well as it might. There is
some mould on the mutton and the beef is tainted. There is a distinct
smell. The house has been opened by order when the temperature has
fallen below 28 deg.. I thought the effect would be to 'harden up' the
meat, but apparently we need air circulation. When the temperature
goes down to-night we shall probably take the beef out of the house
and put a wind sail in to clear the atmosphere. If this does not
improve matters we must hang more carcasses in the rigging.
_Later_, 6 P.M.--The wind has backed from S.E. to E.S.E. and the
swell is going down--this seems to argue open water in the first but
not in the second direction and that the course we pursue is a good
one on the whole.
The sky is clearing but the wind still gusty, force 4 to 7; the ice
has frozen a little and we've made no progress since noon.
9 P.M.--One of the ponies went down to-night. He has been down
before. It may mean nothing; on the other hand it is not a circumstance
of good omen.
Otherwise there is nothing further to record, and I close this volume
of my Journal under circumstances which cannot be considered cheerful.
A FRESH MS. BOOK. 1910-11.
[_On the Flyleaf_]
'And in regions far
Such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came
And plant our name
Under that star
Not known unto our North.'
'To the Virginian Voyage.'
'But be the workemen what they may be, let us speake of the worke;
that is, the true greatnesse of Kingdom and estates; and the meanes
Still in the Ice
_Wednesday, December 28, 1910_.--Obs. Noon, 69 deg. 17' S., 179 deg. 42'
W. Made good since 26th S. 74 W. 31'; C. Crozier S. 22 W. 530'. The
gale has abated. The sky began to clear in the middle watch;
now we have bright, cheerful, warm sunshine (temp. 28 deg.). The wind
lulled in the middle watch and has fallen to force 2 to 3. We made
1 1/2 miles in the middle and have added nearly a mile since. This
movement has brought us amongst floes of decidedly smaller area and
the pack has loosened considerably. A visit to the crow's nest shows
great improvement in the conditions. There is ice on all sides, but a
large percentage of the floes is quite thin and even the heavier ice
appears breakable. It is only possible to be certain of conditions
for three miles or so--the limit of observation from the crow's nest;
but as far as this limit there is no doubt the ship could work through
with ease. Beyond there are vague signs of open water in the southern
sky. We have pushed and drifted south and west during the gale and
are now near the 180th meridian again. It seems impossible that we
can be far from the southern limit of the pack.
On strength of these observations we have decided to raise steam. I
trust this effort will carry us through.
The pony which fell last night has now been brought out into the
open. The poor beast is in a miserable condition, very thin, very weak
on the hind legs, and suffering from a most irritating skin affection
which is causing its hair to fall out in great quantities. I think
a day or so in the open will help matters; one or two of the other
ponies under the forecastle are also in poor condition, but none
so bad as this one. Oates is unremitting in his attention and care
of the animals, but I don't think he quite realises that whilst in
the pack the ship must remain steady and that, therefore, a certain
limited scope for movement and exercise is afforded by the open deck
on which the sick animal now stands.
If we can get through the ice in the coming effort we may get all the
ponies through safely, but there would be no great cause for surprise
if we lost two or three more.
These animals are now the great consideration, balanced as they are
against the coal expenditure.
This morning a number of penguins were diving for food around and
under the ship. It is the first time they have come so close to the
ship in the pack, and there can be little doubt that the absence of
motion of the propeller has made them bold.
The Adelie penguin on land or ice is almost wholly ludicrous. Whether
sleeping, quarrelling, or playing, whether curious, frightened, or
angry, its interest is continuously humorous, but the Adelie penguin
in the water is another thing; as it darts to and fro a fathom or two
below the surface, as it leaps porpoise-like into the air or swims
skimmingly over the rippling surface of a pool, it excites nothing
but admiration. Its speed probably appears greater than it is, but
the ability to twist and turn and the general control of movement is
both beautiful and wonderful.
As one looks across the barren stretches of the pack, it is sometimes
difficult to realise what teeming life exists immediately beneath
A tow-net is filled with diatoms in a very short space of time,
showing that the floating plant life is many times richer than that
of temperate or tropic seas. These diatoms mostly consist of three
or four well-known species. Feeding on these diatoms are countless
thousands of small shrimps (_Euphausia_); they can be seen swimming at
the edge of every floe and washing about on the overturned pieces. In
turn they afford food for creatures great and small: the crab-eater
or white seal, the penguins, the Antarctic and snowy petrel, and an
unknown number of fish.
These fish must be plentiful, as shown by our capture of one on an
overturned floe and the report of several seen two days ago by some men
leaning over the counter of the ship. These all exclaimed together,
and on inquiry all agreed that they had seen half a dozen or more a
foot or so in length swimming away under a floe. Seals and penguins
capture these fish, as also, doubtless, the skuas and the petrels.
Coming to the larger mammals, one occasionally sees the long lithe
sea leopard, formidably armed with ferocious teeth and doubtless
containing a penguin or two and perhaps a young crab-eating seal. The
killer whale (_Orca gladiator_), unappeasably voracious, devouring
or attempting to devour every smaller animal, is less common in the
pack but numerous on the coasts. Finally, we have the great browsing
whales of various species, from the vast blue whale (_Balaenoptera
Sibbaldi_), the largest mammal of all time, to the smaller and less
common bottle-nose and such species as have not yet been named. Great
numbers of these huge animals are seen, and one realises what a demand
they must make on their food supply and therefore how immense a supply
of small sea beasts these seas must contain. Beneath the placid ice
floes and under the calm water pools the old universal warfare is
raging incessantly in the struggle for existence.
Both morning and afternoon we have had brilliant sunshine, and
this afternoon all the after-guard lay about on the deck sunning
themselves. A happy, care-free group.
10 P.M.--We made our start at eight, and so far things look well. We
have found the ice comparatively thin, the floes 2 to 3 feet in
thickness except where hummocked; amongst them are large sheets from
6 inches to 1 foot in thickness as well as fairly numerous water
pools. The ship has pushed on well, covering at least 3 miles an hour,
though occasionally almost stopped by a group of hummocked floes. The
sky is overcast: stratus clouds come over from the N.N.E. with wind in
the same direction soon after we started. This may be an advantage,
as the sails give great assistance and the officer of the watch has
an easier time when the sun is not shining directly in his eyes. As
I write the pack looks a little closer; I hope to heavens it is not
generally closing up again--no sign of open water to the south. Alas!
12 P.M.--Saw two sea leopards playing in the wake.
_Thursday, December_ 29.--No sights. At last the change for which
I have been so eagerly looking has arrived and we are steaming
amongst floes of small area evidently broken by swell, and with edges
abraded by contact. The transition was almost sudden. We made very
good progress during the night with one or two checks and one or two
slices of luck in the way of open water. In one pool we ran clear
for an hour, capturing 6 good miles.
This morning we were running through large continuous sheets of ice
from 6 inches to 1 foot in thickness, with occasional water holes and
groups of heavier floes. This forenoon it is the same tale, except
that the sheets of thin ice are broken into comparatively regular
figures, none more than 30 yards across. It is the hopefullest sign
of the approach to the open sea that I have seen.
The wind remains in the north helping us, the sky is overcast and
slight sleety drizzle is falling; the sun has made one or two attempts
to break through but without success.
Last night we had a good example of the phenomenon called 'Glazed
Frost.' The ship everywhere, on every fibre of rope as well as on her
more solid parts, was covered with a thin sheet of ice caused by a
fall of light super-cooled rain. The effect was pretty and interesting.
Our passage through the pack has been comparatively uninteresting
from the zoologist's point of view, as we have seen so little of
the rarer species of animals or of birds in exceptional plumage. We
passed dozens of crab-eaters, but have seen no Ross seals nor have we
been able to kill a sea leopard. To-day we see very few penguins. I'm
afraid there can be no observations to give us our position.
Release after Twenty Days in the Pack
_Friday, December_ 30.--Obs. 72 deg. 17' S. 177 deg. 9' E. Made good in
48 hours, S. 19 W. 190'; C. Crozier S. 21 W. 334'. We are out of
the pack at length and at last; one breathes again and hopes that
it will be possible to carry out the main part of our programme,
but the coal will need tender nursing.
Yesterday afternoon it became darkly overcast with falling snow. The
barometer fell on a very steep gradient and the wind increased to
force 6 from the E.N.E. In the evening the snow fell heavily and the
glass still galloped down. In any other part of the world one would
have felt certain of a coming gale. But here by experience we know
that the barometer gives little indication of wind.
Throughout the afternoon and evening the water holes became more
frequent and we came along at a fine speed. At the end of the first
watch we were passing through occasional streams of ice; the wind had
shifted to north and the barometer had ceased to fall. In the middle
watch the snow held up, and soon after--1 A.M.--Bowers steered through
the last ice stream.
At six this morning we were well in the open sea, the sky thick and
overcast with occasional patches of fog. We passed one small berg
on the starboard hand with a group of Antarctic petrels on one side
and a group of snow petrels on the other. It is evident that these
birds rely on sea and swell to cast their food up on ice ledges--only
a few find sustenance in the pack where, though food is plentiful,
it is not so easily come by. A flight of Antarctic petrel accompanied
the ship for some distance, wheeling to and fro about her rather than
following in the wake as do the more northerly sea birds.
It is [good] to escape from the captivity of the pack and to feel that
a few days will see us at Cape Crozier, but it is sad to remember
the terrible inroad which the fight of the last fortnight has made
on our coal supply.
2 P.M.--The wind failed in the forenoon. Sails were clewed up, and
at eleven we stopped to sound. The sounding showed 1111 fathoms--we
appear to be on the edge of the continental shelf. Nelson got some
samples and temperatures.
The sun is bursting through the misty sky and warming the air. The
snowstorm had covered the ropes with an icy sheet--this is now peeling
off and falling with a clatter to the deck, from which the moist slush
is rapidly evaporating. In a few hours the ship will be dry--much to
our satisfaction; it is very wretched when, as last night, there is
slippery wet snow underfoot and on every object one touches.
Our run has exceeded our reckoning by much. I feel confident that
our speed during the last two days had been greatly under-estimated
and so it has proved. We ought to be off C. Crozier on New Year's Day.
8 P.M.--Our calm soon came to an end, the breeze at 3 P.M. coming
strong from the S.S.W., dead in our teeth--a regular southern
blizzard. We are creeping along a bare 2 knots. I begin to wonder
if fortune will ever turn her wheel. On every possible occasion she
seems to have decided against us. Of course, the ponies are feeling
the motion as we pitch in a short, sharp sea--it's damnable for them
and disgusting for us.
Summary of the Pack
We may be said to have entered the pack at 4 P.M. on the 9th in
latitude 65 1/2 S. We left it at 1 A.M. on 30th in latitude 71 1/2
S. We have taken twenty days and some odd hours to get through, and
covered in a direct line over 370 miles--an average of 18 miles a
day. We entered the pack with 342 tons of coal and left with 281 tons;
we have, therefore, expended 61 tons in forcing our way through--an
average of 6 miles to the ton.
These are not pleasant figures to contemplate, but considering the
exceptional conditions experienced I suppose one must conclude that
things might have been worse.
9th. Loose streams, steaming.
10th. Close pack.
11th. 6 A.M. close pack, stopped.
12th. 11.30 A.M. started.
13th. 8 A.M. heavy pack, stopped; 8 P.M. out fires.
14th. Fires out.
18th. Noon, heavy pack and leads, steaming
19th. Noon, heavy pack and leads, steaming.
20th. Forenoon, banked fires.
21st. 9 A.M. started. 11 A.M. banked.
22nd. ,, ,,
23rd. Midnight, started.
24th. 7 A.M. stopped
25th. Fires out.
26th. ,, ,,
27th. ,, ,,
28th. 7.30 P.M. steaming.
These columns show that we were steaming for nine out of twenty
days. We had two long stops, one of _five_ days and one of _four and
a half_ days. On three other occasions we stopped for short intervals
without drawing fires.
I have asked Wright to plot the pack with certain symbols on the chart
made by Pennell. It promises to give a very graphic representation
of our experiences.
'We hold the record for reaching the northern edge of the pack,
whereas three or four times the open Ross Sea has been gained at an
'I can imagine few things more trying to the patience than the long
wasted days of waiting. Exasperating as it is to see the tons of
coal melting away with the smallest mileage to our credit, one has
at least the satisfaction of active fighting and the hope of better
fortune. To wait idly is the worst of conditions. You can imagine how
often and how restlessly we climbed to the crow's nest and studied
the outlook. And strangely enough there was generally some change to
note. A water lead would mysteriously open up a few miles away or the
place where it had been would as mysteriously close. Huge icebergs
crept silently towards or past us, and continually we were observing
these formidable objects with range finder and compass to determine
the relative movement, sometimes with misgiving as to our ability
to clear them. Under steam the change of conditions was even more
marked. Sometimes we would enter a lead of open water and proceed for
a mile or two without hindrance; sometimes we would come to big sheets
of thin ice which broke easily as our iron-shod prow struck them, and
sometimes even a thin sheet would resist all our attempts to break it;
sometimes we would push big floes with comparative ease and sometimes
a small floe would bar our passage with such obstinacy that one would
almost believe it possessed of an evil spirit; sometimes we passed
through acres of sludgy sodden ice which hissed as it swept along
the side, and sometimes the hissing ceased seemingly without rhyme
or reason, and we found our screw churning the sea without any effect.
'Thus the steaming days passed away in an ever changing environment
and are remembered as an unceasing struggle.
'The ship behaved splendidly--no other ship, not even the _Discovery_,
would have come through so well. Certainly the _Nimrod_ would never
have reached the south water had she been caught in such pack. As
a result I have grown strangely attached to the _Terra Nova_. As
she bumped the floes with mighty shocks, crushing and grinding a way
through some, twisting and turning to avoid others, she seemed like a
living thing fighting a great fight. If only she had more economical
engines she would be suitable in all respects.
'Once or twice we got among floes which stood 7 or 8 feet above water,
with hummocks and pinnacles as high as 25 feet. The ship could have
stood no chance had such floes pressed against her, and at first we
were a little alarmed in such situations. But familiarity breeds
contempt; there never was any pressure in the heavy ice, and I'm
inclined to think there never would be.
'The weather changed frequently during our journey through the
pack. The wind blew strong from the west and from the east; the
sky was often darkly overcast; we had snowstorms, flaky snow, and
even light rain. In all such circumstances we were better placed in
the pack than outside of it. The foulest weather could do us little
harm. During quite a large percentage of days, however, we had bright
sunshine, which, even with the temperature well below freezing,
made everything look bright and cheerful. The sun also brought us
wonderful cloud effects, marvellously delicate tints of sky, cloud,
and ice, such effects as one might travel far to see. In spite of our
impatience we would not willingly have missed many of the beautiful
scenes which our sojourn in the pack afforded us. Ponting and Wilson
have been busy catching these effects, but no art can reproduce such
colours as the deep blue of the icebergs.
'Scientifically we have been able to do something. We have managed to
get a line of soundings on our route showing the raising of the bottom
from the ocean depths to the shallow water on the continental shelf,
and the nature of the bottom. With these soundings we have obtained
many interesting observations of the temperature of different layers
of water in the sea.
'Then we have added a great deal to the knowledge of life in the pack
from observation of the whales, seals, penguins, birds, and fishes as
well as of the pelagic beasts which are caught in tow-nets. Life in
one form or another is very plentiful in the pack, and the struggle
for existence here as elsewhere is a fascinating subject for study.
'We have made a systematic study of the ice also, both the bergs and
sea ice, and have got a good deal of useful information concerning
it. Also Pennell has done a little magnetic work.
'But of course this slight list of activity in the cause of science is
a very poor showing for the time of our numerous experts; many have
had to be idle in regard to their own specialities, though none are
idle otherwise. All the scientific people keep night watch when they
have no special work to do, and I have never seen a party of men so
anxious to be doing work or so cheerful in doing it. When there is
anything to be done, such as making or shortening sail, digging ice
from floes for the water supply, or heaving up the sounding line, it
goes without saying that all the afterguard turn out to do it. There
is no hesitation and no distinction. It will be the same when it
comes to landing stores or doing any other hard manual labour.
'The spirit of the enterprise is as bright as ever. Every one strives
to help every one else, and not a word of complaint or anger has
been heard on board. The inner life of our small community is very
pleasant to think upon and very wonderful considering the extremely
small space in which we are confined.
'The attitude of the men is equally worthy of admiration. In the
forecastle as in the wardroom there is a rush to be first when work is
to be done, and the same desire to sacrifice selfish consideration to
the success of the expedition. It is very good to be able to write in
such high praise of one's companions, and I feel that the possession
of such support ought to ensure success. Fortune would be in a hard
mood indeed if it allowed such a combination of knowledge, experience,
ability, and enthusiasm to achieve nothing.'
_Saturday, December_ 31. _New Year's Eve_.--Obs. 72 deg. 54' S., 174 deg.
55' E. Made good S. 45 W. 55'; C. Crozier S. 17 W. 286'.--'The
New Year's Eve found us in the Ross Sea, but not at the end of our
misfortunes.' We had a horrible night. In the first watch we kept away
2 points and set fore and aft sail. It did not increase our comfort
but gave us greater speed. The night dragged slowly through. I could
not sleep thinking of the sore strait for our wretched ponies. In
the morning watch the wind and sea increased and the outlook was
very distressing, but at six ice was sighted ahead. Under ordinary
conditions the safe course would have been to go about and stand to the
east. But in our case we must risk trouble to get smoother water for
the ponies. We passed a stream of ice over which the sea was breaking
heavily and one realised the danger of being amongst loose floes in
such a sea. But soon we came to a compacter body of floes, and running
behind this we were agreeably surprised to find comparatively smooth
water. We ran on for a bit, then stopped and lay to. Now we are lying
in a sort of ice bay--there is a mile or so of pack to windward, and
two horns which form the bay embracing us. The sea is damped down to
a gentle swell, although the wind is as strong as ever. As a result
we are lying very comfortably. The ice is drifting a little faster
than the ship so that we have occasionally to steam slowly to leeward.
So far so good. From a dangerous position we have achieved one which
only directly involved a waste of coal. The question is, which will
last longest, the gale or our temporary shelter?
Rennick has just obtained a sounding of 187 fathoms; taken in
conjunction with yesterday's 1111 fathoms and Ross's sounding of 180,
this is interesting, showing the rapid gradient of the continental
shelf. Nelson is going to put over the 8 feet Agassiz trawl.
Unfortunately we could not clear the line for the trawl--it is
stowed under the fodder. A light dredge was tried on a small manilla
line--very little result. First the weights were insufficient to
carry it to the bottom; a second time, with more weight and line, it
seems to have touched for a very short time only; there was little of
value in the catch, but the biologists are learning the difficulties
of the situation.
_Evening_.--Our protection grew less as the day advanced but saved
us much from the heavy swell. At 8 P.M. we started to steam west
to gain fresh protection, there being signs of pack to south and
west; the swell is again diminishing. The wind which started south
yesterday has gone to S.S.W. (true), the main swell in from S.E. by
S. or S.S.E. There seems to be another from south but none from the
direction from which the wind is now blowing. The wind has been getting
squally: now the squalls are lessening in force, the sky is clearing
and we seem to be approaching the end of the blow. I trust it may be
so and that the New Year will bring us better fortune than the old.
If so, it will be some pleasure to write 1910 for the last time.--Land
At 10 P.M. to-night as the clouds lifted to the west a distant
but splendid view of the great mountains was obtained. All were in
sunshine; Sabine and Whewell were most conspicuous--the latter from
this view is a beautiful sharp peak, as remarkable a landmark as Sabine
itself. Mount Sabine was 110 miles away when we saw it. I believe we
could have seen it at a distance of 30 or 40 miles farther--such is
the wonderful clearness of the atmosphere.
_Sunday, January_ 1.--Obs. 73 deg. 5' S. 174 deg. 11' E. Made good S. 48
W. 13.4; C. Crozier S. 15 W. 277'.--At 4 A.M. we proceeded, steaming
slowly to the S.E. The wind having gone to the S.W. and fallen to
force 3 as we cleared the ice, we headed into a short steep swell,
and for some hours the ship pitched most uncomfortably.
At 8 A.M. the ship was clear of the ice and headed south with fore
and aft sail set. She is lying easier on this course, but there is
still a good deal of motion, and would be more if we attempted to
Oates reports that the ponies are taking it pretty well.
Soon after 8 A.M. the sky cleared, and we have had brilliant sunshine
throughout the day; the wind came from the N.W. this forenoon, but
has dropped during the afternoon. We increased to 55 revolutions at
10 A.M. The swell is subsiding but not so quickly as I had expected.
To-night it is absolutely calm, with glorious bright sunshine. Several
people were sunning themselves at 11 o'clock! sitting on deck and
The land is clear to-night. Coulman Island 75 miles west.
Sounding at 7 P.M., 187 fathoms.
Sounding at 4 A.M., 310 ,,
_Monday, January_ 2.--Obs. 75 deg. 3', 173 deg. 41'. Made good S. 3
W. 119'; C. Crozier S. 22 W. 159'.--It has been a glorious night
followed by a glorious forenoon; the sun has been shining almost
continuously. Several of us drew a bucket of sea water and had a
bath with salt water soap on the deck. The water was cold, of course,
but it was quite pleasant to dry oneself in the sun. The deck bathing
habit has fallen off since we crossed the Antarctic circle, but Bowers
has kept going in all weathers.
There is still a good deal of swell--difficult to understand after
a day's calm--and less than 200 miles of water to wind-ward.
Wilson saw and sketched the new white stomached whale seen by us in
At 8.30 we sighted Mount Erebus, distant about 115 miles; the sky
is covered with light cumulus and an easterly wind has sprung up,
force 2 to 3. With all sail set we are making very good progress.
_Tuesday, January_ 3, 10 A.M.--The conditions are very much the same
as last night. We are only 24 miles from C. Crozier and the land is
showing up well, though Erebus is veiled in stratus cloud.
It looks finer to the south and we may run into sunshine soon, but
the wind is alarming and there is a slight swell which has little
effect on the ship, but makes all the difference to our landing.
For the moment it doesn't look hopeful. We have been continuing our
line of soundings. From the bank we crossed in latitude 71 deg. the water
has gradually got deeper, and we are now getting 310 to 350 fathoms
against 180 on the bank.
The _Discovery_ soundings give depths up to 450 fathoms East of
6 P.M.--No good!! Alas! Cape Crozier with all its attractions is
We came up to the Barrier five miles east of the Cape soon after
1 P.M. The swell from the E.N.E. continued to the end. The Barrier
was not more than 60 feet in height. From the crow's nest one could
see well over it, and noted that there was a gentle slope for at
least a mile towards the edge. The land of Black (or White?) Island
could be seen distinctly behind, topping the huge lines of pressure
ridges. We plotted the Barrier edge from the point at which we met it
to the Crozier cliffs; to the eye it seems scarcely to have changed
since _Discovery_ days, and Wilson thinks it meets the cliff in the
The Barrier takes a sharp turn back at 2 or 3 miles from the cliffs,
runs back for half a mile, then west again with a fairly regular
surface until within a few hundred yards of the cliffs; the interval is
occupied with a single high pressure ridge--the evidences of pressure
at the edge being less marked than I had expected.
Ponting was very busy with cinematograph and camera. In the angle
at the corner near the cliffs Rennick got a sounding of 140 fathoms
and Nelson some temperatures and samples. When lowering the water
bottle on one occasion the line suddenly became slack at 100 metres,
then after a moment's pause began to run out again. We are curious
to know the cause, and imagine the bottle struck a seal or whale.
Meanwhile, one of the whale boats was lowered and Wilson, Griffith
Taylor, Priestley, Evans, and I were pulled towards the shore. The
after-guard are so keen that the proper boat's crew was displaced and
the oars manned by Oates, Atkinson, and Cherry-Garrard, the latter
catching several crabs.
The swell made it impossible for us to land. I had hoped to see
whether there was room to pass between the pressure ridge and the
cliff, a route by which Royds once descended to the Emperor rookery;
as we approached the corner we saw that a large piece of sea floe ice
had been jammed between the Barrier and the cliff and had buckled
up till its under surface stood 3 or 4 ft. above the water. On top
of this old floe we saw an old Emperor moulting and a young one
shedding its down. (The down had come off the head and flippers
and commenced to come off the breast in a vertical line similar to
the ordinary moult.) This is an age and stage of development of the
Emperor chick of which we have no knowledge, and it would have been
a triumph to have secured the chick, but, alas! there was no way to
get at it. Another most curious sight was the feet and tails of two
chicks and the flipper of an adult bird projecting from the ice on
the under side of the jammed floe; they had evidently been frozen in
above and were being washed out under the floe.
Finding it impossible to land owing to the swell, we pulled along
the cliffs for a short way. These Crozier cliffs are remarkably
interesting. The rock, mainly volcanic tuff, includes thick strata
of columnar basalt, and one could see beautiful designs of jammed
and twisted columns as well as caves with whole and half pillars
very much like a miniature Giant's Causeway. Bands of bright yellow
occurred in the rich brown of the cliffs, caused, the geologists
think, by the action of salts on the brown rock. In places the cliffs
overhung. In places, the sea had eaten long low caves deep under them,
and continued to break into them over a shelving beach. Icicles hung
pendant everywhere, and from one fringe a continuous trickle of thaw
water had swollen to a miniature waterfall. It was like a big hose
playing over the cliff edge. We noticed a very clear echo as we passed
close to a perpendicular rock face. Later we returned to the ship,
which had been trying to turn in the bay--she is not very satisfactory
in this respect owing to the difficulty of starting the engines either
ahead or astern--several minutes often elapse after the telegraph
has been put over before there is any movement of the engines.
It makes the position rather alarming when one is feeling one's way
into some doubtful corner. When the whaler was hoisted we proceeded
round to the penguin rookery; hopes of finding a quiet landing had
now almost disappeared.8
There were several small grounded bergs close to the rookery; going
close to these we got repeated soundings varying from 34 down to 12
fathoms. There is evidently a fairly extensive bank at the foot of the
rookery. There is probably good anchorage behind some of the bergs,
but none of these afford shelter for landing on the beach, on which the
sea is now breaking incessantly; it would have taken weeks to land the
ordinary stores and heaven only knows how we could have got the ponies
and motor sledges ashore. Reluctantly and sadly we have had to abandon
our cherished plan--it is a thousand pities. Every detail of the shore
promised well for a wintering party. Comfortable quarters for the hut,
ice for water, snow for the animals, good slopes for ski-ing, vast
tracks of rock for walks. Proximity to the Barrier and to the rookeries
of two types of penguins--easy ascent of Mount Terror--good ground for
biological work--good peaks for observation of all sorts--fairly easy
approach to the Southern Road, with no chance of being cut off--and
so forth. It is a thousand pities to have to abandon such a spot.
On passing the rookery it seemed to me we had been wrong in assuming
that all the guano is blown away. I think there must be a pretty
good deposit in places. The penguins could be seen very clearly
from the ship. On the large rookery they occupy an immense acreage,
and one imagines have extended as far as shelter can be found. But
on the small rookery they are patchy and there seems ample room for
the further extension of the colonies. Such unused spaces would have
been ideal for a wintering station if only some easy way could have
been found to land stores.
I noted many groups of penguins on the snow slopes over-looking the
sea far from the rookeries, and one finds it difficult to understand
why they meander away to such places.
A number of killer whales rose close to the ship when we were opposite
the rookery. What an excellent time these animals must have with
thousands of penguins passing to and fro!
We saw our old _Discovery_ post-office pole sticking up as erect as
when planted, and we have been comparing all we have seen with old
photographs. No change at all seems to have taken place anywhere,
and this is very surprising in the case of the Barrier edge.
From the penguin rookeries to the west it is a relentless coast
with high ice cliffs and occasional bare patches of rock showing
through. Even if landing were possible, the grimmest crevassed snow
slopes lie behind to cut one off from the Barrier surface; there is
no hope of shelter till we reach Cape Royds.
Meanwhile all hands are employed making a running survey. I give an
idea of the programme opposite. Terror cleared itself of cloud some
hours ago, and we have had some change in views of it. It is quite
certain that the ascent would be easy. The Bay on the north side of
Erebus is much deeper than shown on the chart.
The sun has been obstinate all day, peeping out occasionally and then
shyly retiring; it makes a great difference to comfort.
Bruce continually checking speed with hand log.
Bowers taking altitudes of objects as they come abeam.
Nelson noting results.
Pennell taking verge plate bearings on bow and quarter.
Cherry-Garrard noting results.
Evans taking verge plate bearings abeam.
Atkinson noting results.
Campbell taking distances abeam with range finder.
Wright noting results.
Rennick sounding with Thomson machine.
Drake noting results.
Beaufort Island looks very black from the south.
10.30.--We find pack off Cape Bird; we have passed through some
streams and there is some open water ahead, but I'm afraid we may
find the ice pretty thick in the Strait at this date.
_Wednesday, January_ 4, 1 A.M.--We are around Cape Bird and in sight of
our destination, but it is doubtful if the open water extends so far.
We have advanced by following an open water lead close along the
land. Cape Bird is a very rounded promontory with many headlands;
it is not easy to say which of these is the Cape.
The same grim unattainable ice-clad coast line extends continuously
from the Cape Crozier Rookery to Cape Bird. West of C. Bird there is
a very extensive expanse of land, and on it one larger and several
small penguin rookeries.
On the uniform dark reddish brown of the land can be seen numerous
grey spots; these are erratic boulders of granite. Through glasses
one could be seen perched on a peak at least 1300 feet above the sea.
Another group of killer whales were idly diving off the penguin
rookery; an old one with a very high straight dorsal fin and several
youngsters. We watched a small party of penguins leaping through the
water towards their enemies. It seemed impossible that they should
have failed to see the sinister fins during their frequent jumps into
the air, yet they seemed to take no notice whatever--stranger still,
the penguins must have actually crossed the whales, yet there was no
commotion whatever, and presently the small birds could be seen leaping
away on the other side. One can only suppose the whales are satiated.
As we rounded Cape Bird we came in sight of the old well-remembered
land marks--Mount Discovery and the Western Mountains--seen dimly
through a hazy atmosphere. It was good to see them again, and perhaps
after all we are better this side of the Island. It gives one a homely
feeling to see such a familiar scene.
4 A.M.--The steep exposed hill sides on the west side of Cape Bird look
like high cliffs as one gets south of them and form a most conspicuous
land mark. We pushed past these cliffs into streams of heavy bay ice,
making fair progress; as we proceeded the lanes became scarcer, the
floes heavier, but the latter remain loose. 'Many of us spent the
night on deck as we pushed through the pack.' We have passed some
very large floes evidently frozen in the strait. This is curious,
as all previous evidence has pointed to the clearance of ice sheets
north of Cape Royds early in the spring.
I have observed several floes with an entirely new type of
surface. They are covered with scales, each scale consisting of a
number of little flaky ice sheets superimposed, and all 'dipping'
at the same angle. It suggests to me a surface with sastrugi and
layers of fine dust on which the snow has taken hold.
We are within 5 miles of Cape Royds and ought to get there.
_Wednesday, January_ 4, P.M..--This work is full of surprises.
At 6 A.M. we came through the last of the Strait pack some three
miles north of Cape Royds. We steered for the Cape, fully expecting
to find the edge of the pack ice ranging westward from it. To our
astonishment we ran on past the Cape with clear water or thin sludge
ice on all sides of us. Past Cape Royds, past Cape Barne, past the
glacier on its south side, and finally round and past Inaccessible
Island, a good 2 miles south of Cape Royds. 'The Cape itself was cut
off from the south.' We could have gone farther, but the last sludge
ice seemed to be increasing in thickness, and there was no wintering
spot to aim for but Cape Armitage.  'I have never seen the ice of
the Sound in such a condition or the land so free from snow. Taking
these facts in conjunction with the exceptional warmth of the air,
I came to the conclusion that it had been an exceptionally warm
summer. At this point it was evident that we had a considerable choice
of wintering spots. We could have gone to either of the small islands,
to the mainland, the Glacier Tongue, or pretty well anywhere except Hut
Point. My main wish was to choose a place that would not be easily cut
off from the Barrier, and my eye fell on a cape which we used to call
the Skuary a little behind us. It was separated from old _Discovery_
quarters by two deep bays on either side of the Glacier Tongue,
and I thought that these bays would remain frozen until late in the
season, and that when they froze over again the ice would soon become
firm.' I called a council and put these propositions. To push on to
the Glacier Tongue and winter there; to push west to the 'tombstone'
ice and to make our way to an inviting spot to the northward of the
cape we used to call 'the Skuary.' I favoured the latter course,
and on discussion we found it obviously the best, so we turned back
close around Inaccessible Island and steered for the fast ice off
the Cape at full speed. After piercing a small fringe of thin ice
at the edge of the fast floe the ship's stem struck heavily on hard
bay ice about a mile and a half from the shore. Here was a road
to the Cape and a solid wharf on which to land our stores. We made
fast with ice anchors. Wilson, Evans, and I went to the Cape, which
I had now rechristened Cape Evans in honour of our excellent second
in command. A glance at the land showed, as we expected, ideal spots
for our wintering station. The rock of the Cape consists mainly of
volcanic agglomerate with olivine kenyte; it is much weathered and
the destruction had formed quantities of coarse sand. We chose a spot
for the hut on a beach facing N.W. and well protected by numerous
small hills behind. This spot seems to have all the local advantages
(which I must detail later) for a winter station, and we realised that
at length our luck had turned. The most favourable circumstance of
all is the stronge chance of communication with Cape Armitage being
established at an early date.
It was in connection with this fact that I had had such a strong
desire to go to Mount Terror, and such misgivings if we had been
forced to go to Cape Royds. It is quite evident that the ice south of
Cape Royds does not become secure till late in the season, probably
in May. Before that, all evidence seems to show that the part between
Cape Royds and Cape Barne is continually going out. How, I ask myself,
was our depot party to get back to home quarters? I feel confident we
can get to the new spot we have chosen at a comparatively early date;
it will probably only be necessary to cross the sea ice in the deep
bays north and south of the Glacier Tongue, and the ice rarely goes
out of there after it has first formed. Even if it should, both stages
can be seen before the party ventures upon them.
After many frowns fortune has treated us to the kindest smile--for
twenty-four hours we have had a calm with brilliant sunshine. Such
weather in such a place comes nearer to satisfying my ideal of
perfection than any condition that I have ever experienced. The warm
glow of the sun with the keen invigorating cold of the air forms a
combination which is inexpressibly health-giving and satisfying to me,
whilst the golden light on this wonderful scene of mountain and ice
satisfies every claim of scenic magnificence. No words of mine can
convey the impressiveness of the wonderful panorama displayed to our
eyes. Ponting is enraptured and uses expressions which in anyone else
and alluding to any other subject might be deemed extravagant.
The Landing: A Week's Work
Whilst we were on shore Campbell was taking the first steps towards
landing our stores. Two of the motor sledges were soon hoisted
out, and Day with others was quickly unpacking them. Our luck stood
again. In spite of all the bad weather and the tons of sea water which
had washed over them the sledges and all the accessories appeared as
fresh and clean as if they had been packed on the previous day--much
credit is due to the officers who protected them with tarpaulins and
lashings. After the sledges came the turn of the ponies--there was a
good deal of difficulty in getting some of them into the horse box,
but Oates rose to the occasion and got most in by persuasion, whilst
others were simply lifted in by the sailors. Though all are thin and
some few looked pulled down I was agreeably surprised at the evident
vitality which they still possessed--some were even skittish. I cannot
express the relief when the whole seventeen were safely picketed on the
floe. From the moment of getting on the snow they seemed to take a new
lease of life, and I haven't a doubt they will pick up very rapidly. It
really is a triumph to have got them through safely and as well as
they are. Poor brutes, how they must have enjoyed their first roll,
and how glad they must be to have freedom to scratch themselves! It is
evident all have suffered from skin irritation--one can imagine the
horror of suffering from such an ill for weeks without being able to
get at the part that itched. I note that now they are picketed together
they administer kindly offices to each other; one sees them gnawing
away at each other's flanks in most amicable and obliging manner.
Meares and the dogs were out early, and have been running to and fro
most of the day with light loads. The great trouble with them has
been due to the fatuous conduct of the penguins. Groups of these have
been constantly leaping on to our floe. From the moment of landing
on their feet their whole attitude expressed devouring curiosity and
a pig-headed disregard for their own safety. They waddle forward,
poking their heads to and fro in their usually absurd way, in spite of
a string of howling dogs straining to get at them. 'Hulloa,' they seem
to say, 'here's a game--what do all you ridiculous things want?' And
they come a few steps nearer. The dogs make a rush as far as their
leashes or harness allow. The penguins are not daunted in the least,
but their ruffs go up and they squawk with semblance of anger, for all
the world as though they were rebuking a rude stranger--their attitude
might be imagined to convey 'Oh, that's the sort of animal you are;
well, you've come to the wrong place--we aren't going to be bluffed
and bounced by you,' and then the final fatal steps forward are taken
and they come within reach. There is a spring, a squawk, a horrid red
patch on the snow, and the incident is closed. Nothing can stop these
silly birds. Members of our party rush to head them off, only to be
met with evasions--the penguins squawk and duck as much as to say,
'What's it got to do with you, you silly ass? Let us alone.'
With the first spilling of blood the skua gulls assemble, and soon,
for them at least, there is a gruesome satisfaction to be reaped. Oddly
enough, they don't seem to excite the dogs; they simply alight within
a few feet and wait for their turn in the drama, clamouring and
quarrelling amongst themselves when the spoils accrue. Such incidents
were happening constantly to-day, and seriously demoralising the dog
teams. Meares was exasperated again and again.
The motor sledges were running by the afternoon, Day managing one and
Nelson the other. In spite of a few minor breakdowns they hauled good
loads to the shore. It is early to call them a success, but they are
certainly extremely promising.
The next thing to be got out of the ship was the hut, and the large
quantity of timber comprising it was got out this afternoon.
And so to-night, with the sun still shining, we look on a very
different prospect from that of 48 or even 24 hours ago.
I have just come back from the shore.
The site for the hut is levelled and the erecting party is living
on shore in our large green tent with a supply of food for eight
days. Nearly all the timber, &c., of the hut is on shore, the
remainder half-way there. The ponies are picketed in a line on a
convenient snow slope so that they cannot eat sand. Oates and Anton
are sleeping ashore to watch over them. The dogs are tied to a long
length of chain stretched on the sand; they are coiled up after a
long day, looking fitter already. Meares and Demetri are sleeping
in the green tent to look after them. A supply of food for ponies
and dogs as well as for the men has been landed. Two motor sledges
in good working order are safely on the beach.
A fine record for our first day's work. All hands start again at 6
It's splendid to see at last the effect of all the months of
preparation and organisation. There is much snoring about me as I
write (2 P.M.) from men tired after a hard day's work and preparing
for such another to-morrow. I also must sleep, for I have had none
for 48 hours--but it should be to dream happily.
_Thursday, January_ 5.--All hands were up at 5 this morning and at
work at 6. Words cannot express the splendid way in which everyone
works and gradually the work gets organised. I was a little late on
the scene this morning, and thereby witnessed a most extraordinary
scene. Some 6 or 7 killer whales, old and young, were skirting the fast
floe edge ahead of the ship; they seemed excited and dived rapidly,
almost touching the floe. As we watched, they suddenly appeared astern,
raising their snouts out of water. I had heard weird stories of these
beasts, but had never associated serious danger with them. Close to
the water's edge lay the wire stern rope of the ship, and our two
Esquimaux dogs were tethered to this. I did not think of connecting
the movements of the whales with this fact, and seeing them so close
I shouted to Ponting, who was standing abreast of the ship. He seized
his camera and ran towards the floe edge to get a close picture of the
beasts, which had momentarily disappeared. The next moment the whole
floe under him and the dogs heaved up and split into fragments. One
could hear the 'booming' noise as the whales rose under the ice and
struck it with their backs. Whale after whale rose under the ice,
setting it rocking fiercely; luckily Ponting kept his feet and was
able to fly to security. By an extraordinary chance also, the splits
had been made around and between the dogs, so that neither of them
fell into the water. Then it was clear that the whales shared our
astonishment, for one after another their huge hideous heads shot
vertically into the air through the cracks which they had made. As
they reared them to a height of 6 or 8 feet it was possible to see
their tawny head markings, their small glistening eyes, and their
terrible array of teeth--by far the largest and most terrifying in
the world. There cannot be a doubt that they looked up to see what
had happened to Ponting and the dogs.
The latter were horribly frightened and strained to their chains,
whining; the head of one killer must certainly have been within 5
feet of one of the dogs.
After this, whether they thought the game insignificant, or whether
they missed Ponting is uncertain, but the terrifying creatures passed
on to other hunting grounds, and we were able to rescue the dogs,
and what was even more important, our petrol--5 or 6 tons of which was
waiting on a piece of ice which was not split away from the main mass.
Of course, we have known well that killer whales continually skirt
the edge of the floes and that they would undoubtedly snap up anyone
who was unfortunate enough to fall into the water; but the facts
that they could display such deliberate cunning, that they were able
to break ice of such thickness (at least 2 1/2 feet), and that they
could act in unison, were a revelation to us. It is clear that they
are endowed with singular intelligence, and in future we shall treat
that intelligence with every respect.
Notes on the Killer or Grampus (_Orca gladiator_)
One killed at Greenwich, 31 feet.
Teeth about 2 1/2 inches above jaw; about 3 1/2 inches total length.
'The fierceness and voracity of the killer, in which it surpasses
all other known cetaceans.'
In stomach of a 21 ft. specimen were found remains of 13 porpoises
and 14 seals.
A herd of white whales has been seen driven into a bay and literally
torn to pieces.
Teeth, large, conical, and slightly recurred, 11 or 12 on each side
of either jaw.
_'Mammals'--Flower and Lydekker:_
'Distinguished from all their allies by great strength and ferocity.'
'Combine in packs to hunt down and destroy . . . full sized whales.'
Adult males average 20 feet; females 15 feet.
Strong sharp conical teeth which interlock. Combines great strength
Spout 'low and bushy.'
Habits exhibit a boldness and cunning peculiar to their carnivorous
Three or four do not hesitate to grapple the largest baleen whales, who
become paralysed with terror--frequently evince no efforts to escape.
Instances have occurred where a band of orcas laid siege to whales
in tow, and although frequently lanced and cut with boat spades,
made away with their prey.
Inclined to believe it rarely attacks larger cetaceans.
Possessed of great swiftness.
Sometimes seen peering above the surface with a seal in their bristling
jaws, shaking and crushing their victims and swallowing them apparently
Tear white whales into pieces.
Ponting has been ravished yesterday by a view of the ship seen from a
big cave in an iceberg, and wished to get pictures of it. He succeeded
in getting some splendid plates. This fore-noon I went to the iceberg
with him and agreed that I had rarely seen anything more beautiful
than this cave. It was really a sort of crevasse in a tilted berg
parallel to the original surface; the strata on either side had bent
outwards; through the back the sky could be seen through a screen
of beautiful icicles--it looked a royal purple, whether by contrast
with the blue of the cavern or whether from optical illusion I do
not know. Through the larger entrance could be seen, also partly
through icicles, the ship, the Western Mountains, and a lilac sky;
a wonderfully beautiful picture.
Ponting is simply entranced with this view of Mt. Erebus, and with
the two bergs in the foreground and some volunteers he works up
foregrounds to complete his picture of it.
I go to bed very satisfied with the day's work, but hoping for better
results with the improved organisation and familiarity with the work.
To-day we landed the remainder of the woodwork of the hut, all the
petrol, paraffin and oil of all descriptions, and a quantity of
oats for the ponies besides odds and ends. The ponies are to begin
work to-morrow; they did nothing to-day, but the motor sledges did
well--they are steadying down to their work and made nothing but
non-stop runs to-day. One begins to believe they will be reliable,
but I am still fearing that they will not take such heavy loads as
Day is very pleased and thinks he's going to do wonders, and Nelson
shares his optimism. The dogs find the day work terribly heavy and
Meares is going to put them on to night work.
The framework of the hut is nearly up; the hands worked till 1
A.M. this morning and were at it again at 7 A.M.--an instance of the
spirit which actuates everyone. The men teams formed of the after-guard
brought in good loads, but they are not yet in condition. The hut is
about 11 or 12 feet above the water as far as I can judge. I don't
think spray can get so high in such a sheltered spot even if we get
a northerly gale when the sea is open.
In all other respects the situation is admirable. This work makes
one very tired for Diary-writing.
_Friday, January_ 6.--We got to work at 6 again this morning. Wilson,
Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard, and I took each a pony, returned to the ship,
and brought a load ashore; we then changed ponies and repeated the
process. We each took three ponies in the morning, and I took one in
Bruce, after relief by Rennick, took one in the morning and one in the
afternoon--of the remaining five Oates deemed two unfit for work and
three requiring some breaking in before getting to serious business.
I was astonished at the strength of the beasts I handled; three out
of the four pulled hard the whole time and gave me much exercise. I
brought back loads of 700 lbs. and on one occasion over 1000 lbs.
With ponies, motor sledges, dogs, and men parties we have done an
excellent day of transporting--another such day should practically
finish all the stores and leave only fuel and fodder (60 tons) to
complete our landing. So far it has been remarkably expeditious.
The motor sledges are working well, but not very well; the small
difficulties will be got over, but I rather fear they will never draw
the loads we expect of them. Still they promise to be a help, and
they are lively and attractive features of our present scene as they
drone along over the floe. At a little distance, without silencers,
they sound exactly like threshing machines.
The dogs are getting better, but they only take very light loads
still and get back from each journey pretty dead beat. In their
present state they don't inspire confidence, but the hot weather is
much against them.
The men parties have done splendidly. Campbell and his Eastern Party
made eight journeys in the day, a distance over 24 miles. Everyone
declares that the ski sticks greatly help pulling; it is surprising
that we never thought of using them before.
Atkinson is very bad with snow blindness to-night; also Bruce. Others
have a touch of the same disease. It's well for people to get
experience of the necessity of safeguarding their eyes.
The only thing which troubles me at present is the wear on our
sledges owing to the hard ice. No great harm has been done so far,
thanks to the excellent wood of which the runners are made, but
we can't afford to have them worn. Wilson carried out a suggestion
of his own to-night by covering the runners of a 9-ft. sledge with
strips from the skin of a seal which he killed and flensed for the
purpose. I shouldn't wonder if this acted well, and if it does we
will cover more sledges in a similar manner. We shall also try Day's
new under-runners to-morrow. After 48 hours of brilliant sunshine we
have a haze over the sky.
List of sledges:
12 ft. 11 in use
10 ft. 10 not now used
9 ft. 10 in use
To-day I walked over our peninsula to see what the southern side was
like. Hundreds of skuas were nesting and attacked in the usual manner
as I passed. They fly round shrieking wildly until they have gained
some altitude. They then swoop down with great impetus directly
at one's head, lifting again when within a foot of it. The bolder
ones actually beat on one's head with their wings as they pass. At
first it is alarming, but experience shows that they never strike
except with their wings. A skua is nesting on a rock between the
ponies and the dogs. People pass every few minutes within a pace
or two, yet the old bird has not deserted its chick. In fact, it
seems gradually to be getting confidence, for it no longer attempts
to swoop at the intruder. To-day Ponting went within a few feet,
and by dint of patience managed to get some wonderful cinematograph
pictures of its movements in feeding and tending its chick, as well
as some photographs of these events at critical times.
The main channel for thaw water at Cape Evans is now quite a rushing
Evans, Pennell, and Rennick have got sight for meridian distance;
we ought to get a good longitude fix.
_Saturday, January_ 7.--The sun has returned. To-day it seemed better
than ever and the glare was blinding. There are quite a number of
cases of snow blindness.
We have done splendidly. To-night all the provisions except some in
bottles are ashore and nearly all the working paraphernalia of the
scientific people--no light item. There remains some hut furniture,
2 1/2 tons of carbide, some bottled stuff, and some odds and ends
which should occupy only part of to-morrow; then we come to the two
last and heaviest items--coal and horse fodder.
If we are not through in the week we shall be very near it. Meanwhile
the ship is able to lay at the ice edge without steam; a splendid
There has been a steady stream of cases passing along the shore route
all day and transport arrangements are hourly improving.
Two parties of four and three officers made ten journeys each,
covering over 25 miles and dragging loads one way which averaged 250
to 300 lbs. per man.
The ponies are working well now, but beginning to give some
excitement. On the whole they are fairly quiet beasts, but they
get restive with their loads, mainly but indirectly owing to the
smoothness of the ice. They know perfectly well that the swingle trees
and traces are hanging about their hocks and hate it. (I imagine it
gives them the nervous feeling that they are going to be carried off
their feet.) This makes it hard to start them, and when going they
seem to appreciate the fact that the sledges will overrun them should
they hesitate or stop. The result is that they are constantly fretful
and the more nervous ones tend to become refractory and unmanageable.
Oates is splendid with them--I do not know what we should do without
I did seven journeys with ponies and got off with a bump on the head
and some scratches.
One pony got away from Debenham close to the ship, and galloped the
whole way in with its load behind; the load capsized just off the
shore and the animal and sledge dashed into the station. Oates very
wisely took this pony straight back for another load.
Two or three ponies got away as they were being harnessed, and careered
up the hill again. In fact there were quite a lot of minor incidents
which seemed to endanger life and limb to the animals if not the men,
but which all ended safely.
One of Meares' dog teams ran away--one poor dog got turned over at
the start and couldn't get up again (Muk/aka). He was dragged at a
gallop for nearly half a mile; I gave him up as dead, but apparently
he was very little hurt.
The ponies are certainly going to keep things lively as time goes on
and they get fresher. Even as it is, their condition can't be half
as bad as we imagined; the runaway pony wasn't much done even after
the extra trip.
The station is beginning to assume the appearance of an orderly
camp. We continue to find advantages in the situation; the long level
beach has enabled Bowers to arrange his stores in the most systematic
manner. Everything will be handy and there will never be a doubt as
to the position of a case when it is wanted. The hut is advancing
apace--already the matchboarding is being put on. The framework is
being clothed. It should be extraordinarily warm and comfortable,
for in addition to this double coating of insulation, dry seaweed in
quilted sacking, I propose to stack the pony fodder all around it.
I am wondering how we shall stable the ponies in the winter.
The only drawback to the present position is that the ice is getting
thin and sludgy in the cracks and on some of the floes. The ponies drop
their feet through, but most of them have evidently been accustomed
to something of the sort; they make no fuss about it. Everything
points to the desirability of the haste which we are making--so we
go on to-morrow, Sunday.
A whole host of minor ills besides snow blindness have come upon
us. Sore faces and lips, blistered feet, cuts and abrasions; there are
few without some troublesome ailment, but, of course, such things are
'part of the business.' The soles of my feet are infernally sore.
'Of course the elements are going to be troublesome, but it is good
to know them as the only adversary and to feel there is so small a
chance of internal friction.'
Ponting had an alarming adventure about this time. Bent on getting
artistic photographs with striking objects, such as hummocked floes
or reflecting water, in the foreground, he used to depart with his
own small sledge laden with cameras and cinematograph to journey
alone to the grounded icebergs. One morning as he tramped along
harnessed to his sledge, his snow glasses clouded with the mist of
perspiration, he suddenly felt the ice giving under his feet. He
describes the sensation as the worst he ever experienced, and one can
well believe it; there was no one near to have lent assistance had he
gone through. Instinctively he plunged forward, the ice giving at every
step and the sledge dragging through water. Providentially the weak
area he had struck was very limited, and in a minute or two he pulled
out on a firm surface. He remarked that he was perspiring very freely!
Looking back it is easy to see that we were terribly incautious in
our treatment of this decaying ice.
_Sunday, January 8_.--A day of disaster. I stupidly gave permission for
the third motor to be got out this morning. This was done first thing
and the motor placed on firm ice. Later Campbell told me one of the men
had dropped a leg through crossing a sludgy patch some 200 yards from
the ship. I didn't consider it very serious, as I imagined the man
had only gone through the surface crust. About 7 A.M. I started for
the shore with a single man load, leaving Campbell looking about for
the best crossing for the motor. I sent Meares and the dogs over with
a can of petrol on arrival. After some twenty minutes he returned to
tell me the motor had gone through. Soon after Campbell and Day arrived
to confirm the dismal tidings. It appears that getting frightened of
the state of affairs Campbell got out a line and attached it to the
motor--then manning the line well he attempted to rush the machine
across the weak place. A man on the rope, Wilkinson, suddenly went
through to the shoulders, but was immediately hauled out. During the
operation the ice under the motor was seen to give, and suddenly it
and the motor disappeared. The men kept hold of the rope, but it cut
through the ice towards them with an ever increasing strain, obliging
one after another to let go. Half a minute later nothing remained but
a big hole. Perhaps it was lucky there was no accident to the men,
but it's a sad incident for us in any case. It's a big blow to know
that one of the two best motors, on which so much time and trouble
have been spent, now lies at the bottom of the sea. The actual spot
where the motor disappeared was crossed by its fellow motor with a
very heavy load as well as by myself with heavy ponies only yesterday.
Meares took Campbell back and returned with the report that the ice
in the vicinity of the accident was hourly getting more dangerous.
It was clear that we were practically cut off, certainly as regards
heavy transport. Bowers went back again with Meares and managed
to ferry over some wind clothes and odds and ends. Since that no
communication has been held; the shore party have been working,
but the people on board have had a half holiday.
At 6 I went to the ice edge farther to the north. I found a place where
the ship could come and be near the heavy ice over which sledging
is still possible. I went near the ship and semaphored directions
for her to get to this place as soon as she could, using steam if
necessary. She is at present wedged in with the pack, and I think
Pennell hopes to warp her along when the pack loosens.
Meares and I marked the new trail with kerosene tins before
returning. So here we are waiting again till fortune is
kinder. Meanwhile the hut proceeds; altogether there are four layers
of boarding to go on, two of which are nearing completion; it will
be some time before the rest and the insulation is on.
It's a big job getting settled in like this and a tantalising one
when one is hoping to do some depot work before the season closes.
We had a keen north wind to-night and a haze, but wind is dropping and
sun shining brightly again. To-day seemed to be the hottest we have
yet had; after walking across I was perspiring freely, and later as
I sat in the sun after lunch one could almost imagine a warm summer
day in England.
This is my first night ashore. I'm writing in one of my new domed
tents which makes a very comfortable apartment.
_Monday, January_ 9.--I didn't poke my nose out of my tent till 6.45,
and the first object I saw was the ship, which had not previously been
in sight from our camp. She was now working her way along the ice
edge with some difficulty. I heard afterwards that she had started
at 6.15 and she reached the point I marked yesterday at 8.15. After
breakfast I went on board and was delighted to find a good solid
road right up to the ship. A flag was hoisted immediately for the
ponies to come out, and we commenced a good day's work. All day the
sledges have been coming to and fro, but most of the pulling work
has been done by the ponies: the track is so good that these little
animals haul anything from 12 to 18 cwt. Both dogs and men parties
have been a useful addition to the haulage--no party or no single
man comes over without a load averaging 300 lbs. per man. The dogs,
working five to a team, haul 5 to 6 cwt. and of course they travel
much faster than either ponies or men.
In this way we transported a large quantity of miscellaneous stores;
first about 3 tons of coal for present use, then 2 1/2 tons of carbide,
all the many stores, chimney and ventilators for the hut, all the
biologists' gear--a big pile, the remainder of the physicists' gear
and medical stores, and many old cases; in fact a general clear up
of everything except the two heavy items of forage and fuel. Later in
the day we made a start on the first of these, and got 7 tons ashore
before ceasing work. We close with a good day to our credit, marred
by an unfortunate incident--one of the dogs, a good puller, was seen
to cough after a journey; he was evidently trying to bring something
up--two minutes later he was dead. Nobody seems to know the reason,
but a post-mortem is being held by Atkinson and I suppose the cause
of death will be found. We can't afford to lose animals of any sort.
All the ponies except three have now brought loads from the
ship. Oates thinks these three are too nervous to work over this
slippery surface. However, he tried one of the hardest cases to-night,
a very fine pony, and got him in successfully with a big load.
To-morrow we ought to be running some twelve or thirteen of these
Griffith Taylor's bolted on three occasions, the first two times more
or less due to his own fault, but the third owing to the stupidity
of one of the sailors. Nevertheless a third occasion couldn't be
overlooked by his messmates, who made much merriment of the event. It
was still funnier when he brought his final load (an exceptionally
heavy one) with a set face and ardent pace, vouchsafing not a word
to anyone he passed.
We have achieved fair organisation to-day. Evans is in charge of the
road and periodically goes along searching for bad places and bridging
cracks with boards and snow.
Bowers checks every case as it comes on shore and dashes off to the
ship to arrange the precedence of different classes of goods. He proves
a perfect treasure; there is not a single case he does not know or
a single article of any sort which he cannot put his hand on at once.
Rennick and Bruce are working gallantly at the discharge of stores
Williamson and Leese load the sledges and are getting very clever
and expeditious. Evans (seaman) is generally superintending the
sledging and camp outfit. Forde, Keohane, and Abbott are regularly
assisting the carpenter, whilst Day, Lashly, Lillie, and others give
Wilson, Cherry-Garrard, Wright, Griffith Taylor, Debenham, Crean, and
Browning have been driving ponies, a task at which I have assisted
myself once or twice. There was a report that the ice was getting
rotten, but I went over it myself and found it sound throughout. The
accident with the motor sledge has made people nervous.
The weather has been very warm and fine on the whole, with occasional
gleams of sunshine, but to-night there is a rather chill wind from
the south. The hut is progressing famously. In two more working days
we ought to have everything necessary on shore.
_Tuesday, January_ 10.--We have been six days in McMurdo Sound and
to-night I can say we are landed. Were it impossible to land another
pound we could go on without hitch. Nothing like it has been done
before; nothing so expeditious and complete. This morning the main
loads were fodder. Sledge after sledge brought the bales, and early
in the afternoon the last (except for about a ton stowed with Eastern
Party stores) was brought on shore. Some addition to our patent fuel
was made in the morning, and later in the afternoon it came in a
steady stream. We have more than 12 tons and could make this do if
In addition to this oddments have been arriving all day--instruments,
clothing, and personal effects. Our camp is becoming so perfect in
its appointments that I am almost suspicious of some drawback hidden
by the summer weather.
The hut is progressing apace, and all agree that it should be the
most perfectly comfortable habitation. 'It amply repays the time
and attention given to the planning.' The sides have double boarding
inside and outside the frames, with a layer of our excellent quilted
seaweed insulation between each pair of boardings. The roof has a
single matchboarding inside, but on the outside is a matchboarding,
then a layer of 2-ply 'ruberoid,' then a layer of quilted seaweed, then
a second matchboarding, and finally a cover of 3-ply 'ruberoid.' The
first floor is laid, but over this there will be a quilting, a felt
layer, a second boarding, and finally linoleum; as the plenteous
volcanic sand can be piled well up on every side it is impossible to
imagine that draughts can penetrate into the hut from beneath, and
it is equally impossible to imagine great loss of heat by contact
or radiation in that direction. To add to the wall insulation the
south and east sides of the hut are piled high with compressed forage
bales, whilst the north side is being prepared as a winter stable for
the ponies. The stable will stand between the wall of the hut and a
wall built of forage bales, six bales high and two bales thick. This
will be roofed with rafters and tarpaulin, as we cannot find enough
boarding. We shall have to take care that too much snow does not
collect on the roof, otherwise the place should do excellently well.
Some of the ponies are very troublesome, but all except two have been
running to-day, and until this evening there were no excitements. After
tea Oates suggested leading out the two intractable animals behind
other sledges; at the same time he brought out the strong, nervous
grey pony. I led one of the supposedly safe ponies, and all went well
whilst we made our journey; three loads were safely brought in. But
whilst one of the sledges was being unpacked the pony tied to it
suddenly got scared. Away he dashed with sledge attached; he made
straight for the other ponies, but finding the incubus still fast
to him he went in wider circles, galloped over hills and boulders,
narrowly missing Ponting and his camera, and finally dashed down hill
to camp again pretty exhausted--oddly enough neither sledge nor pony
was much damaged. Then we departed again in the same order. Half-way
over the floe my rear pony got his foreleg foul of his halter, then
got frightened, tugged at his halter, and lifted the unladen sledge to
which he was tied--then the halter broke and away he went. But by this
time the damage was done. My pony snorted wildly and sprang forward as
the sledge banged to the ground. I just managed to hold him till Oates
came up, then we started again; but he was thoroughly frightened--all
my blandishments failed when he reared and plunged a second time,
and I was obliged to let go. He galloped back and the party dejectedly
returned. At the camp Evans got hold of the pony, but in a moment it
was off again, knocking Evans off his legs. Finally he was captured
and led forth once more between Oates and Anton. He remained fairly
well on the outward journey, but on the homeward grew restive again;
Evans, who was now leading him, called for Anton, and both tried to
hold him, but to no purpose--he dashed off, upset his load, and came
back to camp with the sledge. All these troubles arose after he had
made three journeys without a hitch and we had come to regard him as
a nice, placid, gritty pony. Now I'm afraid it will take a deal of
trouble to get him safe again, and we have three very troublesome
beasts instead of two. I have written this in some detail to show
the unexpected difficulties that arise with these animals, and the
impossibility of knowing exactly where one stands. The majority of
our animals seem pretty quiet now, but any one of them may break out
in this way if things go awry. There is no doubt that the bumping of
the sledges close at the heels of the animals is the root of the evil.
The weather has the appearance of breaking. We had a strongish
northerly breeze at midday with snow and hail storms, and now the wind
has turned to the south and the sky is overcast with threatenings of a
blizzard. The floe is cracking and pieces may go out--if so the ship
will have to get up steam again. The hail at noon made the surface
very bad for some hours; the men and dogs felt it most.
The dogs are going well, but Meares says he thinks that several are
suffering from snow blindness. I never knew a dog get it before, but
Day says that Shackleton's dogs suffered from it. The post-mortem
on last night's death revealed nothing to account for it. Atkinson
didn't examine the brain, and wonders if the cause lay there. There is
a certain satisfaction in believing that there is nothing infectious.
_Wednesday, January_ ll.--A week here to-day--it seems quite a month,
so much has been crammed into a short space of time.
The threatened blizzard materialised at about four o'clock this
morning. The wind increased to force six or seven at the ship, and
continued to blow, with drift, throughout the forenoon.
Campbell and his sledging party arrived at the Camp at 8.0
A.M. bringing a small load: there seemed little object, but I suppose
they like the experience of a march in the blizzard. They started
to go back, but the ship being blotted out, turned and gave us their
company at breakfast. The day was altogether too bad for outside work,
so we turned our attention to the hut interior, with the result that
to-night all the matchboarding is completed. The floor linoleum is
the only thing that remains to be put down; outside, the roof and ends
have to be finished. Then there are several days of odd jobs for the
carpenter, and all will be finished. It is a first-rate building in
an extraordinarily sheltered spot; whilst the wind was raging at the
ship this morning we enjoyed comparative peace. Campbell says there
was an extraordinary change as he approached the beach.
I sent two or three people to dig into the hard snow drift behind
the camp; they got into solid ice immediately, became interested
in the job, and have begun the making of a cave which is to be our
larder. Already they have tunnelled 6 or 8 feet in and have begun
side channels. In a few days they will have made quite a spacious
apartment--an ideal place to keep our meat store. We had been
speculating as to the origin of this solid drift and attached great