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The land here, when closely viewed, assumes a very striking and magnificent character; the stra. ta of limestone, which are numerous and quite horizontally disposed, being much more regular than on the eastern shore of Prince Regent's In. let, and retaining nearly their whole perpendicular height of six or seven hundred feet close to the sea.
may here remark, that the whole of Barrow's Stráit, as far as we could see to the N.N.E. of the islands, was entirely free from ice; and, from whatever circumstance it inay proceed, I do not think that this part of the Polar Sea is at any sea. son very much encumbered with it.
It was the general feeling at this period among us, that the voyage had but now commenced. The labours of a bad summer, and the tedium of a long winter, were forgotten in a moment when we found ourselves upon ground not hitherto explored, and with every apparent prospect before us of making as rapid a progress as the nature of this navigation will permit, towards the final accomplishment of our object.
A breeze enabling us again to make some prog. ress, and an open channel still favouring us, of nearly the same breadth as before, we passed, du. ring the night of the 25th, a second bay, about the same size as the other, and also appearing open to the sea; it lies in latitude (by account from the preceding and following noon) 73° 19' 30'', and its width is one mile and a half. We now perceived that the ice closed completely in with the land a short distance beyond us; and, having made all the way we could, were obliged to stand off and on during the day in a channel not three quarters of a mile wide.
A light southerly breeze on the morning of che 28th gradually cleared the shore, and a fresh wind from the N.W. then immediately succeeded. We instantly took advantage of this circumstance, and, casting off at six A.M., ran eight or nine miles without obstruction, when we were stopped by the ice, which, in a closely packed and impenetrable body, stretched close into the shore as far as the eye could reach from the crow's nest. Being anx. ious to gain every foot of distance that we could, and perceiving some grounded ice which appeared favourable for making fast to, just at a point where the, clear water terminated, the ships were run to the utmost extent of it, and a boat prepared from each to examine the water at the intended anchoring place. Just as I was about to leave the Hecla for that purpose, the ice was observed to be in rapid motion towards the shore. The Fury was immediately hauled in by some grounded masses, and placed to the best advantage ; but the He. cla, being more advanced, was immediately beset in spite of every exertion, and, after breaking two of the largest ice-anchors in endeavouring to heave in to the shore, was obliged to drift with the ice, several masses of which had fortunately interposed themselves between us and the land. The ice slackening ound us a little in the evening, we were enabled, with considerable labour, to get to some grounded masses, where we lay much exposed, as the Fury also did. In this situation, our latitude being 72° 51' 51", we saw a comparative. ly low point of land three or four leagues to the southward, which proved to be near that which ter. minated our view of this coast in 1819.
The ice opening for a mile and a half alongshore on the 30th, we shifted the Hecla's berth about that distance to the southward, chiefly to be enabled to see more distinctly round a point which before obstructed our view, though our situation as regarded the security of the ship was much altered for the worse. In the afternoon it blew a hard gale, with constant rain, from the northward, the clouds indi. cating an easterly wind in other parts. This wind, which was always the troublesome one to us, soon brought the ice closer and closer, till it pressed with very considerable violence on both ships, though the most upon the Fury, which lay in a very exposed situation. Early on the morning of the 31st, as soon as a communication could be effect. ed, Captain Hoppner sent to inform me that the Fury had been forced on the ground, where she stil lay; but that she would probably be hove off with. out much difficulty at high water, provided the ex. ternal ice did not prevent it. A large party of hands from the Hecla being sent round to the Fury towards high water, she came off the ground with very little strain, so that, upon the whole, consider. ing the situation in which the ships were lying, we thought ourselves fortunate in having incurred no very serious injury. A shift of wind to the south. ward in the afternoon at length began gradually to slacken it, but it was not till six A.M. on the 1st of August that there appeared a prospect of ma. king any progress. The signal to that effect was immediately made ; but, while the sails were set. ting, the ice, which had at first been three quarters of a mile distant from us, was observed to be clo. sing the shore The ships were cast with all expe.
dition, in hopes of gaining the broader channel be. fore the ice had time to shut us up. So rapid, however, was the latter in this its sudden movement, that we had but just got the ships' heads the right way when the ice came boldly in upon us, being doubtless set in motion by a very sudden freshening of the wind almost to a gale in the course of a few minutes. The ships were now almost instantly beset, and in such a manner as to be literally helpless and unmanageable.
The sails were, however, kept set; and, as the body of ice was setting to the southward withal, we went with it some little distance in that direc. tion. The Hecla, after thus driving, and now and then forcing her way through the ice, in all about three quarters of a mile, quite close to the shore, at length struck the ground forcibly several times in the space of a hundred yards, and being then brought up by it, remained immoveable, the depth of water under her keel abaft being sixteen feet, or about a foot less than she drew. The Fury, continuing to drive, was now. irresistibly carried past us, and we escaped, only by a few feet, the damage invariably occasioned by ships coming in contact. under such circumstances. She had, however, scarcely passed us a hundred yards, when it was evident, by the ice pressing her in, as well as along the shore, that she must soon be stopped like the Hecla; and, having gone about two hundred yards farther, she was observed to receive a severe pres. sure from a large floe-piece forcing her directly against a grounded mass of ice upon the beach. After setting to the southward for an hour or two longer, the ice became stationary, no open water
being anywhere visible from the masthead, and the pressure on the ships remaining undiminished du. ring the day. Just as I had ascertained the utter impossibility of moving the Hecla a single foot, and that she must lie aground fore and aft as soon as the tide fell, I received a note from Captain Hoppner, informing me that the Fury had been so se. verely“ nipped” and strained as to leak a good deal, apparently about four inches an hour; that she was still heavily pressed both upon the ground and against the large mass of ice within her; that the rudder was at present very awkwardly situated ; and that one boat had been much damaged. How. ever, about high water, the ice very opportunely slacking, the Hecla was hove off with great ease, and warped to a floe in the offing, to which we made fast at midnight. The Fury was not long after us in coming off the ground, when I was in hopes of finding that any twist or strain by which her leaks might have been occasioned, would, in some meas. ure, close when she was relieved from pressure and once more fairly afloat. My disappointment and mortification, therefore, may in some measure be imagined, at being informed by telegraph, about two A.M. on the 2d, that the water was gaining on two pumps, and that a part of the doubling had floated up. Presently after, perceiving from the masthead something like a small harbour nearly abreast of us, every effort was made to get once more towards the shore. In this the ice happily favoured us; and, after making sail, and one or two tacks, we got in with the land, when I left the ship in a boat to sound the place and search for shelter. The whole shore was more or less lined with grounded masses of