Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

BARENTSZ'S VOYAGE.

267

dam, and a fishing-bark; the two first under the command of Cornelis Cornelisz Nay, who had served as pilot with the Muscovites in the Northern seas. In the ship of Enchuysen Jan Huygens van Linschoten went as commis, or agent for the merchants. The ship of Amsterdam and the small bark were under Willem Barentsz, a seaman of great reputation.

On the 5th of June, 1594, the four vessels departed in company from the Texel, and, the 23rd of the same month, arrived at Kilduyn, an island and port near the entrance of the river Kola, in Lapland. From this place W. Barentsz sailed with the Amsterdam ships and the small bark for the North of Nova Zembla. The other vessels directed their course for the Waigatz Strait. In the navigation between Kilduyn and the Northern part of Nova Zembla, 140 fathoms depth of water was found ; and at one time of sounding, the depth was more than 150 fathoms, that length of line not reaching to the bottom.

On the 29th of July, Barentsz was in latitude by observation 77° N., the most Northern point of Nova Zembla, then bearing due East. Large impenetrable bodies of ice prevented him from advancing beyond this Cape, and it was therefore named Ys-hoek, or Ice Cape.

The two vessels under Cornelisz Nay, sailed from Kilduyn to the Waigatz. In this passage they had

soundings generally under 60 fathoms; they saw several of the vessels called Loddings, and killed a young

whale which measured in length 33 feet. The lodding is constructed of the interior bark of trees, and instead of nails or iron fastenings, the planks and other parts are sewn or bound together with cords. It has one mast and a square sail.

July the 21st, they saw land before them, which was believed, and which proved, to be Waigatz Island. Linschoten describes it elevated, of good prospect, covered with verdure, but without trees. At three leagues distance they had soundings at 32 fathoms depth ; and at a quarter of a league, 10 fathoms. At noon, the latitude was observed 70° 20' N. “A quantity of floating wood, trunks, branches, and roots of trees, covered the surface of the sea here, and the water was black like the water of the canals in Holland." This muddiness seems to indicate that the wood came from a river not far distant.

They sailed S.S.E. along the coast, with depth from 12 to 9 fathoms. There were rocks near the shore, but they showed above water. Snow lay on the land only in a few places.

As they sailed on, they saw wooden crosses, supposed to have been set up by Russians. They sent a boat to the shore, and a man was seen, who ran away very swiftly, although “hobbling from side to side as if

BARENTSZ'S VOYAGE,

269

he had been lame, as the Laplanders and Finlanders generally do.” The Hollanders pursued but could not overtake him. Two reindeer were seen, which also fled. There was much herbage on the land, flowers of every colour, some of them of fine odour; and lawns, the covering of which was more like moss than grass. Much wood lay heaped on the shores, whole trees large enough to have served for masts and yards if there had been occasion. Some lay far above any high water mark, which was probably effected by ice being forced on the land by the sea, and other ice.

The ships proceeded to the S.E. and South, anchoring at times.

A correct description of the navigation in Waigatz Strait is not to be expected from the early accounts.

Some things are doubtfully expressed, and could not be explained without danger of mistake ; but many useful particulars of information may be collected with safety. The imperfection of our present knowledge of this Strait may be imagined, from the charts lately constructed differing something more than two degrees in the latitude of Waigatz Island.

The 22nd they proceeded to the Southward, anchoring at times along the Western coast of Waigatz Island. At noon the latitude was observed 69° 45' N. In the evening they had a fresh wind at East, and sailed by land which they could not clearly ascertain whether it was a point of Waigatz - Island, or a cluster of small islands near to Waigatz. Here they saw more crosses, and continued their route three leagues further, “ till the sun was at North,” when they were near an opening about a Dutch league broad, in the middle of which was an island, so that in fact it formed two openings. The Southern appeared larger than the Northern, and from the Southern opening the outer coast lay in a S.S.E. direction. This opening was supposed to be the Strait between Waigatz and the Continent, which accorded with the globes and charts. “We had been told,” says Linschoten, “that there was an island to the South of Waigatz, and six other isles farther to the East.” The island first mentioned in the opening was distant from them three Dutch leagues, and more distant land seen to the East appeared joined as a single land. As the wind was Easterly, they continued sailing to the S.S.E. At noon on the 23rd, the latitude was observed 69° 13'N. The weather this day was warm, and they were troubled with gnats. Since the 17th of June they had had the sun constantly above the horizon ; but on this night, the 23rd, the sun set at N.N.E. by the compass, and a short time afterwards reappeared at N.E. by N.; whence is to be inferred, that the variation of the compass was two points and a half North-westerly.

The land to the South was ascertained to be part of

BARENTSZ'S VOYAGE.

271

the Continent. It was low, and much driftwood lay on the shores. They sailed back Northward to the Strait, and, the wind continuing Easterly, kept working to windward all the 24th. In the morning of the 25th, they sailed between two points of land moderately elevated, and covered with verdure, but without trees. The Southern or continental coast was sandy, and the sea near it rocky. The Northern land (Waigatz Island) was rather higher than the Southern, and level at the top.

Crosses were seen in many places, but no appearance of habitations. These coasts were full of sinuosities forming small bays, especially the Northern coast, nearest to which the ships kept.

The wind being contrary, they anchored several times in the Strait. At one time they rode out a gale of wind in the middle of the Strait, a rapid current at the same time running through the Strait from the East, which brought with it large clumps of ice, and kept them in much alarm. This current was affected by the tides ; or more properly was partly tide, for it is afterwards remarked, that with the rising tide the current came from the East, and that the ebbing of the tide was scarcely perceptible. The direction of the Strait was here North-eastward.

In passing through the Strait, the depth under them was at one time not more than four fathoms, but they were then within a stone's cast of the shore. The

« AnteriorContinuar »