« AnteriorContinuar »
road, I heard a more than ordinary noise and bus. tle among the people who were bringing up the boats behind. On returning to them, I found that we had narrowly, and most providentially, escaped a serious calamity; the floe having broken under the weight of the boats and sledges, and the latter having nearly been lost through the ice. Some of the men went completely through, and one of them was only held up by his drag-belt being attached to a sledge which happened to be on firmer ice. Fortunately the bread had, by way of security, been kept in the boats, or this additional weight would undoubtedly have sunk the sledges, and probably some of the men with them. As it was, we happily escaped, though we hardly knew how, with a good deal of wetting; and, cautiously approaching the boats, drew them to a stronger part of the ice, after which we continued our journey till half past six A.M., when we halted to rest, having travelled about seven miles N.N.W., our longitude by chro. nometers being 19° 52' east, and the latitude 820 39' 10'', being only two miles and a quarter to the northward of the preceding day's observation, or four miles and a half to the southward of our reckoning.
Our sportsmen had the good fortune to kill an. other seal to-day, rather larger than the first, which again proved a most welcome addition to our pro. visions and fuel. Indeed, after this supply of the latter, we were enabled to allow ourselves every night a pint of warm water for supper, each man making his own soup from such a portion of his bread and pemmican as he could save from dinner. Setting out again at seven in the evening, we were
not sorry to find the weather quite calm, which sailors account “half a fair wind;" for it was now evident that nothing but a southerly breeze could enable us to make any tolerable progress, or to regain what we had lately lost.
Our travelling to-night was the very best we had during this excursion ; for though we had to launch and haul up the boats frequently, an operation which, under the most favourable circumstances, necessarily occupies much time, yet the floes being large and tolerably level, and some good lanes of water occurring, we made, according to the most moderate calculation, between ten and eleven miles in a N.N.E. direction, and traversed a distance of about seventeen. We halted at a quarter past eight A.M. after more than twelve hours' actual travelling, by which the people were extremely fatigued; but, while our work seemed to be repaid by anything like progress, the men laboured with great cheerfulness to the utmost of their strength. The ice over which we had travelled was by far the largest and heaviest we met with during our whole journey ; this, indeed, was the only occasion on which we saw anything answering in the slight, est degree to the descriptions given of the main ice. The largest floe was from two and a half to three miles square, and in some places the thick. ness of the ice was from 15 to 20 feet. However, it was a satisfaction to observe that the ice had certainly improved; and we now ventured to hope that, for the short time that we could still pursue our outward journey, our progress would be more commensurate with our exertions than it had hith. erto proved. In proportion, then, to the hopes we
had begun to entertain, was our disappointment in finding, at noon, that we were in latitude 82° 43 5", or not quite four miles to the northward of yesterday's observation, instead of the ten or eleven which we had travelled! We halted at seven A.M. on the 23d, after a laborious day's work, and, I must confess, a disheartening one to those who knew to how little effect we were struggling ; which, however, the men did not, though they often laugh. ingly remarked that “ we were a long time getting to this 83° !" Being anxious to make up, in some measure, for the drift which the present northerly wind was in all probability occasioning, we rose earlier than usual, and set off at half past four in the evening. At half past five P.M. we saw a very beautiful natural phenomenon. A broad white fog-bow first appeared opposite the sun, as was very commonly the case ; presently it became strongly tinged with the prismatic colours, and soon after. ward no less than five other complete arches were formed within the main bow, the interior ones be. ing gradually narrower than those without, but the whole of them beautifully coloured. The larger bow, and the one next within it, had the red on the outer or upper part of the circle, the others on the inner side.
We halted at a quarter past three on the morn. ing of the 24th, having made four miles and a half N.N.E., over a road of about seven and a half, most of which we traversed, as usual, three times. We moved again at four P.M. over a difficult road, composed of small and rugged ice. So small was. the ice now around us, that we were obliged to halt for the night at two A.M. on the 25th, being upon
the only piece in sight, in any direction, on which we could venture to trust the boats while we rest. ed. Such was the ice in the latitude of 827°.
The wind had now got round to the W.N.W., with raw, foggy weather, and continued to blow fresh all day. Snow came on soon after our halting, and about two inches had fallen when we moved again at half past four P.M. We continued our journey in this inclement weather for three hours, hauling from piece to piece, and not making more than three quarters of a mile progress, till our clothes and bread-bags had become very wet, and the snow fell so thick that we could no longer see our way. It was therefore necessary to halt, which we did at half past seven, putting the awnings over the boats, changing our wet clothes, and giv. ing the men employment for the mere sake of occupying their minds. The weather improving to. wards noon on the 26th, we obtained the meridian altitude of the sun, by which we found ourselves in latitude 82° 40' 23'' ; so that, since our last obser. vation (at midnight on the 22d), we had lost by drift no less than thirteen miles and a half; for we were now more than three miles to the southward of that observation, though we had certainly travel. led between ten and eleven due north in this interval! Again, we were but one mile to the north of our place at noon on the 21st, though we had es. timated our distance made good at twenty-three miles. Thus it appeared that for the last five days we had been struggling against a southerly drift exceeding four miles per day.
It had, for some time past, been too evident that the nature of the ice with which we had to con.
tend was such, and its drift to the southward, especially with a northerly wind, so great, as to put beyond our reach anything but a very moderate share of success in travelling to the northward. Still, however, we had been anxious to reach the highest latitude which our means would allow, and with this view, although our whole object had long become unattainable, had pushed on to the northward for thirty-five days, or until half our resources were expended, and the middle of our season arrived. For the last few days the eighty-third parallel was the limit to which we had ventured to extend our hopes; but even this expectation had become considerably weakened since the setting in of the last northerly wind, which continued to drive us to the southward, during the necessary hours of rest, nearly as much as we could gain by eleven or twelve hours of daily labour. Had our success been at all proportionate to our exertions, it was my full intention to proceed a few days beyond the middle of the period for which we were provided, trusting to the resources we expected to find at Table Island, But I could not but consider it as incurring useless fatigue to the officers and men, and unnecessary wear and tear for the boats, to persevere any longer in the attempt. I determin. ed, therefore, on giving the people one entire day's rest, which they very much needed, and time to wash and mend their clothes, while the officers were occupied in making all the observations which might be interesting in this latitude ; and then to set out on our return on the following day. Hav. ving communicated my intentions to the people, who were all much disappointed at finding how