Imágenes de páginas


* O Piloto, desta não era Inglez, bom Cosmografo, e com algum conhecimento da Astrologia ; se servira o principe de Orange * * * * e que da derradeira vez, que foi o anno de noventa e sinco (1595) chegára a oitenta e dous gráos do norte ; e que com ser a força do verão, e os dias quasi continuos, por não haver noite, senão se era de duas horas, achou os frios tão excessivos e tantos caramolles e neves, que se des faziam por aquelle estreito abaixo, que dando de rosto na sua não, a fizeram voltar.”—DIOGO DE COUTO, Decad. xii. cap. ii.

That the Greenland whaling men also experience the kind of disasters recorded in the Smith Sound expeditions we had ample opportunity of collecting. One out of many such we give.

Here is the account of a vessel in search of Sir John Franklin in the year 1851, furnished by Captain Cator, who kindly gave us the information. He was at this time in company with Captain Sherard Osborn. The Intrepid was moored to some land ice ; a sudden gale came on; for a long time the hawsers held, and the ship was likely to ride out the storm, when suddenly the land floe they were fastened to broke with a loud crash and bore down, taking the ship with it. There was no time to extricate themselves, and as it came, crushing all before it (a tongue of ice jutting out


from a huge iceberg that lay aground close by), with terrific force she was lifted up, as piece after piece was forced over the others. As they reached the edge, the enormous pressure of the ice against the berg they were upon lifted the Intrepid high above the sea. Her keel was within forty feet of the surface she had been floating upon, and though but slightly injured herself, some of her boats were miserably crushed. In one short half-hour this misadventure fell upon them, and the men busied themselves in preparing for their escape in such boats as were left; and when everything that could be thought of had been done and all was ready for a final leave-taking of their ship, the ice gave way with a crash that destroyed everything within reach. The boats and their stores were lost.. At last the ice on which the ship rested settled again into its position, and the ship slipped down off the ledge upon which she had been resting.

Our object in recording this disaster here is to prove the danger of ice when driven on a coast such as the east coast of Greenland, or the entrance of Smith Sound by some strong gale of wind. Each piece as it arrives careers over the field already there; the huge obstruction soon grows top-heavy, and overbalancing carries annihilation to everything beneath its influence. The men sailing to Pond's Bay and



Lancaster Sound are often subjected to accidents of this kind, and often experience like dangers further south. Should a vessel be crossing Melville Bay, in Davis's Straits, in a southerly gale, she is most liable to suffer some such nip, if she is fortunate to escape worse treatment from the ice. On this account we believe the insurance offices do not take up policies for this expedition. Old men tell of many a good ship’s hull now lying in Melville Bay, whose object was, if possible, to escape the dangers that there beset them on their way north into Pond's Bay. Beyond these straits, again, other and as terrible dangers await the Arctic explorer.

In comparison with these trials, our own seem almost insignificant; but nevertheless we had severe difficulties to contend with until the 29th. We had certainly some good chances of following up our Arctic field-sports, which we were not slow to set about when the opportunities offered. Our success is not worthy of being recorded, although it gave us much occupation. The seals were harder to kill than the west ice-seal (Phoca Grænlandica) we had been first introduced to. These fellows were laden with blubber, and gave only the poorest chance, as their fat sides and their small heads present a difficult object for a floating marksman. As the day wears on, our ship gets clear, and a breeze springs up from the westward. We are once more on our way to the clear water between the land and the ice we have been hemmed in with. We see a Norwegian fisherman in the distance, and make for his ship to see what sport they were having.

What words can describe our mortification on suddenly discovering that our little ship has sprung a leak and is settling in the water? We endeavour to preserve a decent composure ; yet it is easy to see that the effort is. enforced, and all faces wear a look of ill-concealed anxiety. We look uneasily about to see if assistance is near at hand, and fortunately for us there are two other Norwegian whalers within reach, who will be glad to earn money for their services. So we bear down upon the Norsel Jack of Tromsoe. The skipper, after tendering his advice, is earnest in his inquiries. All his thoughts run on the seals we have killed, and he laughs at the account we have to give, although our cargo would sink his craft. He has killed 135 seals, and is making his way to Moffen Island in search of walrus.

From him we learn many valuable particulars as to the anchorage we are now compelled to seek. It is calm, he tells us, under Grey Hook; but beyond, in Widdie Bay, there are big waves rolling under a strong wind whose direction is exactly the reverse of our own, which is barely perceptible.

« AnteriorContinuar »