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happen, and causes one to look forward with hope to overc me the difficulties that may lie in the path. After a short time we saw the Peacock and Flying-Fish under sail, following us.
The wind continued light, with fine weather, until the afternoon. The whole scenery around us was viewed to great advantage, under a mild state of the atmosphere, taking away from it the usual gloomy aspect which a sky, overcast and boisterous, gives. A dense bank of cumuli in the southwest foretold that we were not long to enjoy such moderate weather. About 4 P. M., a heavy squall struck us, which soon took us clear of the islands, on our course to the southward.
On the 26th, we discovered a sail, which proved to be the whaleship America, from New Zealand, bound to New York, and afforded us an opportunity of writing home, which we gladly availed ourselves of. The master of the America informed me that he had experienced constant heavy winds, and had been thirty-five days from New Zealand; that the ship was very leaky, but having a full cargo of three thousand eight hundred barrels of oil, he was in great spirits. I have seldom seen at sea a more uncombed and dirty set of mariners than his crew. How they preserve any tolerable state of health I know not, and it is not at all surprising that the ravages of scurvy should be felt on board of some vessels belonging to the whaling feet, if this is the usual state in which they are kept.
After delivering our letters, we bore away to the southeast, the wind inclining to the northwest and blowing heavy, with a high and remarkably regular sea following. This afforded me an opportunity I had long desired, for making observations to determine the height of the waves, together with their width and velocity. It is obviously very difficult to do this with correctness. I shall therefore state the means which I adopted, in order that it may be perceived what reliance is to be placed on the results.
This opportunity was far more favourable than that which occurred off Madeira, when I was enabled to get only an approximation to their velocity: they were not then urged on by any fresh impetus, as in the present case.
The Porpoise was directly ahead of the Sea-Gull, and but two waves apart; the rate of sailing was about eight knots an hour, both vessels being apparently very steady. In heaving the log, I found that the chip, in drawing in the line, was, when on the top of the next wave astern, distant by line three hundred and eighty feet, equal to onesixteenth of a mile, and the schooner being on the next wave, was twice the distance, or one-eighth of a mile. The time occupied for a wave to pass from the schooner to the brig was thirteen seconds,
taking the mean of many trials, from which none varied more than a second and a half. This gave about twenty-six and a half miles in an hour for their apparent progressive motion. In order to get their height, I took the opportunity when the schooner was in the trough of the sea, and my eye on board the Porpoise in the horizon, to observe where it cut the mast: the wood-cut will illustrate it.
This gave me thirty-two feet. The waves ran higher and more regular on this occasion than I have seen them at any other time during the cruise.
We had many albatrosses hovering about, and at times resting as it were immovable in the storm, some gray petrels, and Cape pigeons in numbers. The weather becoming thick, and the temperature of the water having fallen to 32°, I deemed it prudent to heave-to during the darkness.
The 28th came in more moderate. As soon as it was light we again made sail to the south. Towards noon the wind hauled to the northward and brought rain. The temperature of the water was 37o. The wind now again hauled to the southward and blew fresh. At noon we had reached the latitude of 61° 20' S., longitude 60° 49' W. We found ourselves obliged to lay-to this night also, it being too dark to run.
At daylight on the 1st of March we had snow in flurries, and the first ice-islands were made. They excited much curiosity, and appeared to have been a good deal worn, as though the sea had been washing over them for some time. They were of small size in comparison with those we afterwards saw, but being unused to the sight, we thought them magnificent. At noon we made land, which proved to be Ridley's Island. It was high, broken, and rugged, with the top covered with snow. The rocks had a basaltic appearance, and many were detached from the main body of the island, with numerous high pinnacles, very much worn by the sea. The surf was too great to attempt a landing for the purpose of procuring specimens. As we closed in with the land, we lowered a boat and tried the current, which was found setting to the north-northwest, two fathoms per hour.
At 6 P. M. we had several ice-islands in sight, Cape Melville bearing south-by-east (true). We now had light winds from the south-southwest.
The north foreland of King George's Island was in sight, and found to be well placed on the charts. The appearance of all this land is volcanic; it is from eight hundred to one thousand feet high. The upper part is covered and the valleys filled with snow of great depth. Before night we had several other islands in sight, with many bergs and much' drift-ice.
On the 2d, at daylight, we made O'Brien's and Aspland's Islands, to the eastward, with many ice-islands, some of a tabular form, and from half a mile to a mile in length. The temperature of the water was 34°. Through the fog and mist, we got a sight of Bridgeman's Island, and stood for it, with the intention of landing on it. The fog cleared off as we approached it, and we could perceive distinctly the smoke issuing from its sides. We made it in latitude 62° 06' S., and longitude 57° 10' W. I determined to land, although the fog was hovering in the horizon around us, and ordered a boat to be prepared. While in the act of getting ready, in less than ten minutes, we were enveloped in a fog so dense, that we could not see three lengths of the brig. We were now a short distance from and under the lee of the island, and perceived a strong sulphureous smell. We waited for some time, in hopes of its clearing, but we were disappointed, and I therefore deemed it advisable to proceed under short sail, feeling our way to the southward, with the expectation, every moment, of encountering icebergs.
This island is about six hundred feet high, and of the shape of a flattened dome. The sea was quite smooth, but the long swell was heard dashing against it and the icebergs as we passed them.
On the 3d we filled away at daylight, and stood for Palmer's Land. The birds now had very much increased, Cape pigeons, with the gray and black petrel, and occasionally penguins, swimming about us in all directions, uttering their discordant screams: they seemed astonished at encountering so unusual an object as a vessel in these frozen seas. At 6" 30m we made land, which I took to be Mount Hope, the eastern point of Palmer's Land. By 8 A. M. we had penetrated among the numerous icebergs, until we found it impossible to go farther. I have rarely seen a finer sight. The sea was literally studded with these beautiful masses, some of pure white, others showing all the shades of the opal, others emerald green, and occasionally here and there some of a deep black, forming a strong contrast to the pure white. Near to us, we discovered three small islets, and gave them the name of the Adventure Islets; while beyond, and above all, rose two high mountains, one of which was Mount Hope. I place the eastern extremity of Palmer's Land, or Mount Hope, in longitude 57° 55' W., latitude 63° 25' S.
We found the coast to trend off to the southeast, and I judged we could see it trending from twenty-five to thirty miles. We had now ascertained, beyond a doubt, that there was no open space next to the land, as I had been led 10 believe would be found, so late in the season. The whole area was studded with icebergs, which it now became necessary to get clear of, if possible, before night set in.
It was a day of great excitement to all, for we had ice of all kinds and descriptions to encounter, from the iceberg of huge quadrangular shape, with its stratified appearance, to the sunken and deceptive mass, that it was difficult to perceive before it was under the bow. Our situation was critical, but the weather favoured us for a few hours. On clearing these dangers, we kept off to the southward and westward, under all sail, and at 8 P. M. we counted eighty large ice-islands in sight. Afterwards it became so thick with mist and fog, as to render it necessary to lay-to till daylight, before which time we had a heavy snow-storm. The temperature of the water had fallen to 29°; air 28o. At one hundred fathoms depth we found the former 29o. A strong gale now set in from the southward and westward. The brig's deck was covered with ice and snow, and the weather became excessively damp and cold. The men were suffering, not only from want of sufficient room to accommodate the numbers in the vessel, but from the inadequacy of the clothing with which they had been supplied. Although purchased by the government at great expense, it was found to be entirely unworthy the service, and inferior in every way to the samples exhibited. This was the case with all the articles of this description that were provided for the Expedition. Not having been able to satisfy myself to whom the blame is to be attributed, contractors or inspectors, I hesitate to give their names publicity. The deception is in my opinion to be attributed to both.
On the 5th of March the gale had increased. The tender Sea-Gull being in close company, both vessels were in imminent danger. At 3 A. M. we narrowly escaped several icebergs. At 4 A. M., it blew a very heavy gale from the southwest ; the temperature of the air fell to 27°, and that of the water was 29°; the ice formed rapidly on the deck, and covered the rigging, so much as to render it difficult to work either the brig or schooner; dangers beset us in every direction, and it required all the watchfulness we were possessed of to avoid them.
From the state of the weather, the lateness of the season, and the difficulty of seeing around us, not only during the several hours of the night, but even in the daytime, the constant fogs and mist in which we had been for several hours every day enveloped, rendered our exertions abortive, and precluded the possibility of doing any thing
more than to attend to the sailing of the vessels. These reasons determined me to give up the endeavour to proceed farther south, feeling convinced that the season for such explorations had gone by. I therefore ordered the Sea-Gull to return to Orange Harbour, well knowing that her situation was much worse than our own; directing her to touch at Deception Island on the way, while we proceeded to the northward to examine some of the other islands.
When we bore away, I had the intention of passing towards the assigned situation of the Aurora Isles, but I found the crew so much enfeebled by their constant exposure, whilst some of them were affected with incipient scurvy, that I concluded it was better to return to Orange Harbour as soon as possible. We encountered great numbers of ice-islands, of large size; but I shall defer speaking of their formation, &c., until I relate my second trip to the Antarctic Circle, the following year, and shall only remark here, that they were similar in formation and appearance to those then seen.
We continued under easy sail, enveloped in fogs, and falling in repeatedly with icebergs close aboard, from which at times we escaped with difficulty.