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care the whole of a voyage, where there are no places to replenish. Consequently, the necessary beam for sailing purposes should be retained with a moderate sharp bow, but the stowage of cargo in the hold has to give way; the flat floor is changed to a sharp, wedgeshaped bottom, which answers all the purposes of clean entry and fine run, the room for stowage of cargo being given up. Were some of our men-of-war, of what is called the composite-class, built after the fashion of whaling-ships, we might have the two qualities combined. Whereas, the long bows, rising three feet above the level of the afterpart, with thin, narrow ways in wake of the foremast, give them no hold in the water, and when on a wind they are useless ; nor can they beat off a lee shore, even in a light breeze with little sea. To be able to run up in the wind's eye and go about without loss of way is an essential quality in weathering a long tongue of ice. The engines require to be made on the compound principle, and no expense should be spared to ensure their perfect structure. It often happens that, when under sail, the two square sails on fore and mizen mast have often to be hove back, to save the vessel's bows from striking the large pieces of ice when navigating the narrow channels.
These steamships are specially built for the Arctic seas. They are fast, and easily handled, consume a
very small quantity of coal per diem, and carry in anticipation of a cargo of oil, a store of coal in the oil tanks. Such vessels are necessarily costly, being constructed to steam and sail whenever the occasion may demand it.
Owners of steam-vessels or of sailing crafts suffer from want of some such combinations; and although on some voyages such vessels make a lucrative venture, there is no question about the greater value of a sailing-steamer in these Arctic seas, adapted as well for one purpose as the other.
Ordinary masses of ice offer no opposition to the whaler under steam, and beyond the shock to the system of the sailor, who is not ready when the lookout man calls out, “Hold fast!" there is rarely any perceptible injury done to the craft itself.
Hurrying towards the north, we overhaul two more Peterhead steamers, and early on the 12th a Norwegian brig hove in sight. Her beams would serve for the timbers of an old line of battle ship. She is put together so stoutly that we cannot but admire her bows, iron-bound, and having great sheets of iron overlaying her on either hand. She was clean—i.e. empty-and her captain was the true type of a Norwegian, tall and handsome ; and though his features were bronzed by exposure to the Arctic atmosphere, which has the same effect upon the skin as the
very warmest air of the Tropics, to judge by his blue eyes and light hair, his skin ought to have been fair. He had a crew of fifty-five men, who were paid on the “share in the profits" principle; and as they had
from home since early in April, without capturing a seal or whale, the poor fellows had but a poor prospect for the coming winter at home. The Norwegian was as hospitable as his race is known to be, and did the honours of his cabin with true courtesy. As we entered this curiously quaint room, we noticed that his table presented the appearance as if some scientific game was being played by the skipper to while away his solitary hours when his presence was not required on deck for the sailing of his ship. An infinity of little holes dotted the surface of the board, and a few pegs stood out here and there, with something like order in their arrangement. We apologised forthwith for our intrusion, and the consequent interruption in a game we were unacquainted with. Judge then of our surprise when we learned that the pegs and holes were the ordinary means by which the crews on board such ships keep their plates and glasses during dinner in their places when the weather is at all rough.
He was glad to pick up the threads of European political affairs since he left home, and the “ Alabama Question” particularly interested him. He was very
FLEET OF SEALERS.
anxious to learn if we had “commenced to give Jonathan his deserts ?"
Standing again away to the north, we were on the 13th of June once again in the midst of our friends the seals; but as there was a brisk gale blowing we all stood on our course together, without a thought of the “point ends," as this kind of weather offered no inducement for even a temporary halt, and we consoled ourselves with the reflection that the first fine warm day will tempt them to rest themselves on the ice again. Next day two herds of narwhale, going north, also came in sight, and shortly after a chance of picking up a white whale presented itself, but it came to nothing. These whales were going towards the east. We content ourselves with an examination of the ships in sight, as we have letters for the Eclipse, and are anxious to fall in with her captain.
We learned from the Flora the news of the illsuccess of the fleet up among the north-west ice for the season, and beyond one luckier than the rest, who had three whales, sport had been very bad. The Flora had not, owing to her being in the hands of German owners, gone out the previous season, for fear of the French cruisers.
We had but small returns of sport up to the 20th, when we entered upon a scene of difficulty and some
danger. We were steering amongst very heavy lumps of ice, and the cry of “Steady!”
" " About ship!” “ Port !” “Starboard !” &c., gave work without a moment's cessation to every man on board ; our craft worked to admiration, but received a bump now and again, which it would have been impossible to avoid. The look-out man, aloft in the “crow'snest,” reported clear water (water between the loose pack and the fast ice) to the far north, and our hopes rose at the prospect of sailing in one of these deep bays, between the northern and the southern floe, that had been broken off in the early spring; but our hopes are soon dashed by the information that the water is enclosed in ice, and that it is what the whalers call a lake, or hole, a vast space surrounded by ice, where the water within is in perpetual calm. In an interval when our main opponent, the fog, lifted from the surface, and disclosed the whole scene, we discovered that the ice forming the northern shore of the lake was perfectly smooth, and there were indications, besides, that game abounded in that direction. No time is lost in getting ready a hunting party, and we go in quest of the seals we had seen through the misty air ; but who shall describe our disappointment, after climbing over and crossing a high hummock, on finding the ice floe incapable of bearing our weight? We made the attempt,