« AnteriorContinuar »
The 21st they killed a white bear, whose skin, the journal says, measured thirteen feet. He had swum to the ships, and being intercepted in endeavouring to retreat to the shore, was pursued a league out to sea, and made great resistance before he was overcome. At one time he laid his paw upon the boat, fortunately for those in her, on the fore part; if it had been in the middle he would most probably have overturned her.
On the 23rd they weighed anchor, and would have proceeded Northward, but fell in with ice, which obstructed their progress; and on the 1st of July they were again in sight of Beeren Island. Here they finally differed about the course. Rijp would return to the North, and Barentsz would sail immediately East, and neither prevailing with the other, they separated by agreement. They were each eminently anxious for the discovery; and it may be said, that by separating, they gave a better chance for making it than by remaining together, and at the expense of increasing their own peril.
On the 17th of July, Barentsz made the land of Nova Zembla ; but on the 16th of August, his vessel was no farther advanced than to the North-eastern extremity. The coast from hence took a direction first to the S.S.E. and afterwards to the South, and the sea appeared open to the South-east, which made many on board flatter themselves that the success of their voyage was certain ; but this delusive appearance was of short continu
In the course of the next ten days they were so much incommoded and entangled with floating ice, that they thought it necessary to look to their retreat. In the evening of the 26th they were forced into a bay of the North-eastern, or of the most eastern part of Nova Zembla, for they had passed round the North end of the Island ; and the next day the ice closed upon them with so much violence, that the vessel was lifted or forced upon it as if aground from one end to the other. In this danger they set to work to make the best preparation they could with their boats, in case of being obliged to quit the ship. On the 28th the ice separated a little, and the ship nearly recovered her proper position, when the ice again closed upon her, and the frame of the ship, and the ice all around cracked in so frightful a manner as to fill them with apprehension that she would break in pieces. ice was in greater heaps, and more pressed under the vessel on the side whence the current came than on the other, and she had at first leaned much; but at
COMMENCEMENT OF WINTER.
length, by a continuance of fresh pressure of the ice, she was set upright, and mounted on a bank of ice, as if purposely done with screws and other machines.” On the 31st the ice came in greater quantities, large bodies being forced by currents one over the other. The stem of the vessel was lifted five feet higher than the stern, and the rudder was broken. On the 5th of September, "after supper," the pressure of more ice threw the vessel entirely on one side, and she opened in different places. No prospect remained but of wintering on the spot, and they immediately turned their attention to building a house or hut, which should protect them from the cold, and from wild beasts, or rather from the bears, which were the only animals from whom they expected attack. On the sea-shore, but at a considerable distance from where the ship lay, was found a quantity of wood, some of it whole trees with their roots, which it was supposed had floated there from the continent, as no appearance of wood growing had been seen in the northern part of Nova Zembla. They constructed sleds for removing the timber, and on the 16th made a beginning, by transporting four large logs above a league over the ice or snow, to the place chosen near the vessel for erecting their hut. On the 23rd the carpenter died. Their number remaining was sixteen.
The ground was frozen so hard that they could not make a ditch, but they nevertheless began to erect their building, the sides of which they constructed of timbers squared so as to lay smooth and close one upon another; and they made large fires to soften the earth, by which means they enclosed their building round about with it like a rampart, which must have been a great defence against the severity of the weather. Whilst thus employed, on the 26th of September, the wind came from the west, which drove the loose ice that was afloat out from the land, and left the sea open near the coast; but if the ship had been in good condition, no advantage could have been taken of this, for the ice on which she rested was a close-packed body, of depth that reached to the bottom and took the ground, so that she lay as upon a fixed and solid rock. They therefore diligently continued their work, with the frost at times so severe, that if a man inadvertently put a nail in his mouth, as is frequently done by workmen, it took off the skin, and the blood would follow ; and one man lost a great toe by the frost ; but by the 2nd of October the hut was completed. The latitude was at different times observed to be 76° North.
They were annoyed at first by the visits of bears ; but these animals, after short experience, became so cautious, that they would be frightened away by shoutings or by the sound of trumpets. When they came to attack, if at any time, for want of other ammunition, a clump of wood or other thing was thrown at them, they would, like dogs, run to seize on what was so thrown,
On the 4th of November they wholly lost sight of the sun, and in this month the bears disappeared. In their stead, foxes came, some of which were caught in traps.
The winter passed with less of suffering than could have been expected. Once they were in danger of being suffocated by sleeping with a charcoal fire in their hut. Towards the end of January the foxes disappeared, which was conjectured to be an indication that the bears would shortly return, and so it happened.
On the 24th of January, as Jacob Heemskirk, Girard le Ver, and another person, were walking from their hut to the sea-side, the weather being clear, they were surprised with a sight of the northern limb or edge of the sun. This, the journal says, was fifteen days earlier than, according to calculation, any part of the sun could have been visible to them; and