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and after much laborious travelling, were fortunate, considering the fog, in hitting upon a floe which proved the longest we had yet crossed, being three miles from south to north, though alternately rugged and flat. From this we launched into a lane of water half a mile long from east to west, but which only gave us a hundred and fifty yards of northing. We had then several other small pools to cross, and on one occasion were obliged to cut a place for hauling up the boats, the margin consisting of a tier of high and continuous hummocks. In hauling one of the boats over a 'tongue’ of ice, where she only floated in part, her bottom-boards were raised by the pressure against the ice below, but so strong and elastic was their construction that she did not suffer the slightest external injury. We frequently, during fogs, saw a broad white fog-bow opposite the sun ; but one which appeared to-night was strongly tinged with the prismatic colours.
“The floe on which we stopped to dine at one A.M., on the 16th, was not more than four feet thick, and its extent half a mile square ; and on this we had the rare advantage of carrying all our loads at one journey. At half-past six the fog cleared away, and gave us beautiful weather for drying our clothes, and once more the cheerful sight of the blue sky. We
halted at half-past seven, after being twelve hours on the road, having made a N.b.W. course, distance only six miles and a quarter, though we had traversed nine miles. The thermometer was unusually high in the shade, having risen to 37%°; in the sun it stood at 47° ; a blackened bulb raised it to 511°; and the same thermometer, held against the black painted side of the boat, rose to 59!. This was during a calm : but almost the smallest breath of wind immediately reduced them all below 40°. We saw, during the last journey, a mallemucke and a second Ross gull; and a couple of small Hies (to us an event of ridiculous importance) were found upon the ice. We here observed the variation of the magnetic needle to be 17° 28' westerly, being in latitude, by observation, 82° 26'44" (or two miles to the southward of our reckoning), and in longitude, by chronometers, 20° 32' 13" East.
“ We were to-day almost unusually fortunate in meeting with some open water, one lane of which gave us, though by a very crooked course, a mile and a half of northing, besides other smaller ones. The sea-water, in one of the largest of these lanes, was at the temperature of 34°, being almost the only instance I remember of such an occurrence in a sea thus loaded
THICKNESS OF TIE ICE.
with ice, and at so short a distance from it. We now no longer saw any birds in the 'holes' of water, as we had done farther south. From a hummock forty feet above the level of the sea, and with a very clear and transparent atmosphere, nothing but ice, with a few small patches of water, could be discerned in any direction. The floes were larger to-day, and the ice, upon the whole, of heavier dimensions than any we had yet met with. The general thickness of the floes, however, did not exceed nine or ten feet, which is not more than the usual thickness of those in Baffin's Bay and Hudson's Strait; while it is a great deal less than the ordinary dimensions of the ice about Melville Peninsula, and not half the thickness of that towards the western extremity of Melville Island, though these places lie from eight to twenty degrees south of our present latitude.
“Our way still lay over small loose masses, to which we were now so accustomed as scarcely to expect any other ; for it was evident enough we were not improving in this respect as we advanced northwards. At half-past nine we came to a very difficult crossing among the loose ice, which, however, we were encouraged to attempt by seeing a floe of some magnitude beyond it. We had to convey the sledges and provisions one way, and to haul the boats over by another. One of the masses over which the boats came, began to roll about while one of them was upon it, giving us reason to apprehend its upsetting, which must have been attended with some very serious consequence ; fortunately, however, it retained its equilibrium long enough to allow us to get the boat past it in safety, though not without several of the men falling overboard in consequence of the long jumps we had to make, and the edges breaking with their weight. Towards midnight we had some smart showers of rain, with dry clear intervals between them, just as on an April day in England. This kind of weather, which continued for several hours, harassed the men very much, as it was too warm for working with their jackets on, and they wetted their shirtsleeves when they took them off. I think the blue sky between the clouds this night was as transparent, and almost of as deep a blue as I ever saw it. We had nearly incurred a second disaster in launching one of the boats from an awkward-shaped mass, which brought her gunwale close to the water, and there kept for a quarter of an hour in a very dangerous situation, without our being able to move her one way or the other, while the loose ice was in motion about us at the time. At length, however, we contrived to
FORMATION OF ICE.
reach the floe, after consuming the best part of the day's journey in effecting it; and when we halted to rest at half-past seven A.M., twelve hours' labour had not been repaid by more than three miles and a half gained, on a N.N.E. course.
“On the morning of the 20th we came to a good deal of ice, which formed a striking contrast with the other, being composed of flat bay-floes, not three feet thick, which would have afforded us good travelling, had they not recently been broken into small pieces, obliging us to launch frequently from one to another. These floes had been the product of the last winter only, having probably been formed in some of the interstices left between the larger bodies ; and, from what we saw of them, there could be little doubt of their being all dissolved before the next autumnal frost. We halted at seven A.M., having, by our reckoning, accomplished six miles and a half in a N.N.W. direction, the distance traversed being ten miles and a half. It may, therefore, be imagined how great was our mortification in finding that our latitude, by observation at noon, was only 82° 36' 52", being less than five miles to the northward of our place at noon on the 17th, since which time we had certainly travelled twelve in that direction.