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BOATS FOR THE JOURNEY.
on his voyage over the ice. The boats, constructed of the lightest materials, will be drawn by a herd of forty reindeer.
The boats deserved much attention. They were three in number, built specially for the occasion they were to serve. They were light and exceedingly strong, double in structure : one portion was made of the fine wood of the willow, the second layer of ash. The largest weighed 320 lbs., and could carry 2800 lbs. of goods stowed; the second weighed 100 lbs. less, and carried 1000 lbs. less goods; while the third was only 130 lbs. in weight, and could contain about 1500 lbs. weight in stowage. The deer were to bring with them sufficient provender for an extended march, and on showing signs of exhaustion, they were to be killed for food for the travellers. The journey was to be commenced on the first of April, 1873, and the provisions were sufficient to last until the first of July, by which time they hope to have accomplished this long meditated journey to the northern Pole of the earth.
It will be remembered that Captain Parry, in the year 1827, started late in the season, when he found the ice broken up and loose, drifting by the influence of the currents and the gales of wind. They hope to find a different condition altogether. When they start they expect that at that early season the ice will be
newly formed, or at all events sufficiently permanent and with no greater difficulties of surface to contend with than occasional hummocks of drifted snow, with perhaps some pseudo icebergs. Dr. Hayes, the American traveller, with his fellow countryman Kane, have deserved well of the enterprising Americans under whose auspices they made such valuable explorations, already recorded in the volumes of Arctic voyages which bear their respective names, and from which it will be seen, that when in Baffin's Bay they found the ice broken in the winter, no doubt assisted by the strong current which there obtains—a current, be it noted, which runs seven knots in the hour. Such a current, if it exists at all to the north of the Spitzbergen Islands, was not noticed by us. Should the ice again, under the influence of some gale, get broken up, it is reasonable to suppose that the injury will soon repair itself in a temperature so low. Off Jan Majen's Island the ice freezes together in the early spring, as the sealers, who go there at that early season of the year, are often beset in the ice, and the whole field is frozen together in a very short space of time, cutting off any chance of escape until the solid mass floating down towards the northern shores of Iceland is sighted some six weeks later.
The following extracts from Parry's journal (a scarce
METHOD OF TRAVELLING.
work) prove that we are justified in holding to our opinion that this is the true gateway to the Pole :
“Our plan of travelling being nearly the same throughout this excursion, after we first entered upon the ice, I may at once give some account of our usual mode of proceeding. It was my intention to travel wholly at night, and to rest by day, there being, of course, constant daylight in these regions during the summer season.
“The only disadvantage of this plan was, that the fogs were somewhat more frequent and more thick by night than by day, though even in this respect there was less difference than might have been supposed, the temperature during the twenty-four hours undergoing but little variation. This travelling by night and sleeping by day so completely inverted the natural order of things, that it was difficult to persuade ourselves of the reality. Even the officers and myself, who were all furnished with pocket chronometers, could not always bear in mind at what part of the twenty-four hours we had arrived ; and there were several of the men who declared, and I believe truly, that they never knew night from day during the whole excursion.”*
* Had we succeeded in reaching the higher latitudes, where the change of the sun's altitude during the twenty-four hours is still less
Steering due north, he states we made good progress, our latitude by the sun's meridian altitude at midnight being 80°51' 13". Soon after they observed that a considerable current was setting us to the eastward just after leaving the land, so that we had made a N.N.E. course, distance about ten miles.
“We here perceived that the ice was close to the northward, but to the westward discovered some open water, which we reached after two or three hours' paddling, and found it a wide expanse, in which we sailed to the northward without obstruction, a fresh breeze having sprung up from the S.W. The weather soon after became very thick, with continued snow, requiring great care in looking out for the ice, which made its appearance after two hours' run, and gradually become closer, till at length we were stopped by it at noon, and obliged to haul the boats upon a small floe-piece, our latitude by observation being 81° 12' 51"."
perceptible, it would have been essentially necessary to possess the certain means of knowing this ; since an error of twelve hours of time would have carried us, when we intended to return, on a meridian opposite to, or 180° from, the right one. To obviate the possibility of this, we had some chronometers constructed by Messrs. Parkinson and Frodsham, of which the hour-hand made only one revolution in the day, the twenty-four hours being marked round the dial-plate,
Once fairly started, the intrepid voyager states :
“We set off on our first journey over the ice at ten P.M. on the 24th, Table Island bearing S.S.W., and a fresh breeze blowing from W.S.W., with a thick fog, which afterwards changed to rain. The bags of pemmican were placed upon the sledges, and the bread in the boats, with the intention of securing the latter from wet; but this plan we were very soon obliged to relinquish. We now commenced upon very slow and laborious travelling, the pieces of ice being of small extent and very rugged, obliging us to make three journeys, and sometimes four, with the boats and baggage, and to launch several times across narrow pools of water. This, however, was nothing more than we had expected to encounter at the margin of the ice, and for some distance within it; and every individual exerted himself to the utmost, with the hope of the sooner reaching the main or field ice.
“We pursued our journey at half-past nine P.M., with the wind N.E., and thick weather, the ice being so much in motion as to make it very dangerous to cross with loaded boats, the masses being all very small. Indeed, when we came to the margin of the floe-piece on which we had slept, we saw no road