« PředchozíPokračovat »
March 22d, from midnight to four o'clock, a fresh gale, with rain. The weather lighting up at intervals, made them aware that they were in the midst of innumerable ice-islands, so closely packed as scarcely to afford a passage between them. At four, the wind still continuing fresh and the weather misty, they stood to the northward and eastward. The weather grew thicker and became colder. Shortly after the fog listed, and they found themselves surrounded by narrow fields of ice, with contracted passages between them, extending in a direction perpendicular to that of the wind. As far as the eye could reach were icebergs, packed and floating, in all directions. After a short examination, some places appeared where the ice was not so compact. At one of these, they succeeded in passing through. Fresh gales and thick weather followed, and they still passed numbers of icebergs, of from eighty to one hundred feet in height, with the sea breaking on them. On the morning of the 23d, their latitude was 70° S., longitude 100° 16' W. The weather proved clear. In the afternoon they again stood to the southward and eastward for three hours, when they observed the appearance of land, and discovered large masses of ice and numerous icebergs. At midnight the southern horizon was beautifully illuminated with the aurora australis. On the 24th of March, they had a heavy fall of snow; passed many icebergs, and large quan, ties of floating ice; got suddenly into large fields of packed and broken ice, extending as far as the eye could reach, in all directions, which, with the accumulation of snow, appeared to be rapidly becoming solid. They lost no time in forcing their way out. All on board were of opinion, that within a short time after they cleared it, it became a firm field of ice. The latitude observed was 69° 06' S., longitude 96° 50' W. Having on two occasions narrowly escaped being closed in by the ice, Lieutenant Walker had determined to return, and was making his way to the north when he fell in with the Peacock. The nights having become long, with the interruptions occasioned by fogs and snow-storms, afforded but little time for running the vessels among the icebergs, whose numbers rendered the navigation extremely hazardous. The condition of the Peacock for a winter's campaign, was miserable, and on board the Flying-Fish there was no protection in the event of being frozen in. The positive nature of his instructions, combined with the report of Lieutenant Walker, convinced Captain Hudson of the necessity of turning the vessels' heads towards a more temperate climate. On holding a council with his officers, he found them all of the opinion that the season for active operations in these latitudes had passed, and that it was advisable for the vessels to proceed without delay to the north. He remarks in his report (which, together with Lieutenant Walker's, will be found in Appendix XXXI.), “That it required more moral courage than I can well describe, to bring my mind to this decision, for we had at that moment less ice about us than at any time since we had entered among it; but I felt satisfied, taking all things into consideration, that nothing more could be done at this late season, and that it would be recklessly hazarding the lives of those entrusted to my care, jeoparding the vessels, and of great detriment to the future operations of the Expedition, which an honest conviction of the duty I owed my country, most decidedly forbade.” The vessels accordingly steered to the northward. The weather, during the cruise south, was exceedingly unfavourable; for, with few exceptions, during their stay in the Antarctic Circle, they were enveloped in dense fogs, or found only occasional relief from them in falls of snow. The crew during the whole time enjoyed an unusual degree of health, which is not a little surprising; for, since leaving Orange Harbour, the state of the ship had been such as to promote disease. The precautions and endeavours to keep the men dry, entirely failed, from the condition of the ship, heretofore referred to. On the night of the 26th, they had again a slight display of the aurora, its radiations extending 30° in altitude. Fresh gales blew from the northwest, with a heavy sea, so that the tender found difficulty in keeping company, and they reduced sail in order to avoid parting with her. The fresh gales continued on the 27th, accompanied with rain. Towards night it cleared a little, and, with the aid of the young moon, they were enabled to run through the ice. The weather proved thick on the 28th and 29th, and they had little opportunity of making progress to the north, against the northwest winds, which were light. On this night a new danger beset them, that of being consumed by fire At midnight, on the 29th of March, they were aroused by the smell of burning and smoke, issuing from the main hold. The usual orders were given relative to the magazine. The drum beat to quarters. On opening the main hatch, smoke issued out in volumes, and fire was discovered under it, proceeding from a bag in full blaze. This was soon passed on deck, and the fire extinguished. It was fortunately discovered in time, and was found to proceed from a quantity of coffee, which had been put below, in the bag, after it had been burnt or roasted, the previous afternoon.
On the 1st of April, in latitude 60° 12 S., longitude 84° 20'W., Captain Hudson despatched the tender to Orange Harbour, with his reports to me, and continued his route to Valparaiso. The last icebergs seen were in latitude 62° 30' S., longitude 87° 41' W.; the temperature of air 33°; of water 35°. Captain Hudson speaks in the highest terms of his officers and crew, of their promptness and efficiency in the performance of their respective duties, and of their cordial co-operation in carrying out his views. They experienced a gale of wind on the 6th and 7th of April, in which the barometer fell to 2871 inches. Some of the squalls were remarkably heavy, and the sea high and topping. The gale began at northwest, varying to the eastward, and suddenly changed to westsouthwest; latitude 52° 47' S., longitude 84° W. On the 9th, Royal Hope, ordinary seaman, fell from aloft, but did not experience any injury. In latitude 51° S., longitude 82° W., the sea again showed signs of phosphorescence: the temperature of the water was 46°. On the 11th, they had reached the latitude of 47° 30' S., longitude 80° W., and the weather began to moderate, having passed the stormy latitudes of from 50° to 60° S., where the heaviest winds and seas are met with. The wind, on the 13th of April, in the latitude of 40° S., began to draw to the eastward, and gradually passed into the trade-wind. The 15th of April was the first fair day they had had since the 25th of February. On the 16th of April, they had much phosphorescence, appearing as it were in sheets of liquid fire: the temperature of the water 5S°; latitude 36° S., longitude 75° W. On the 17th, they spoke the whale-ship Francis, and afforded her medical assistance. Until the 20th, they had very light airs, inclining to calms. On the evening of the 19th, they made the land of Chili; and on the 21st the Peacock arrived in Valparaiso, where to their surprise they found our store-ship the Relief, which had arrived at Valparaiso some days previous. The Relief left Orange Harbour on the 26th of February, (a copy of her instructions will be found in Appendix XXX.) for the purpose of visiting various places in the Straits of Magellan, to afford an opportunity of making investigations, and opening a larger field for our naturalists during the fifty or sixty days they were to be detained on the coast. Most of the scientific gentlemen were accordingly transferred to her; and she was ordered to enter the Brecknock Passage, and thence into Cockburn Sound, of which we had King's valuable chart; and I thought that the passage into the strait was more feasible, and might be sooner accomplished by that route than by taking the eastern passage, particularly as the wind was favourable. I also thought it would enable them to explore more parts of the straits, and those which had been least visited. Various difficulties prevented her reaching the entrance to the Brecknock Passage, principally that of keeping too far off the coast on long tacks to the southward. On the 17th of March, after being at sea twenty days, they approached the coast, and a gale ensuing from the southwest, LieutenantCommandant Long, on the following day, determined to run in and anchor under Noir Island, which is spoken of by King as an excellent harbour. The wind was blowing a gale from the southwest, with thick weather and hail-squalls. Noir Island was discovered under the lee, judged to be about twelve miles distant, when they steered for it. It becoming thick, they did not discover the Tower Rocks until they were almost up with, and just had time to clear them. These rocks presented a magnificent and fearful sight, the sea breaking completely over them. Three anchors were prepared. They rounded the southeast point of the island, and stood in for the bay. At about five o'clock they anchored in seventeen fathoms, and the anchor took effect. On the morning of the 19th, the highest point of Noir Island was seen, capped with snow; the wind had abated somewhat, but not enough to permit of their landing in a snug little cove abreast of them. In the afternoon the wind again increased, and another anchor was let go. There was much sea, and the ship rode very uneasy at her anchor. The sea broke tremendously on the reef astern, shooting up in columns, such as are seen to appear under the effect of mirage. After it became dark, the wind shifted to the southward and eastward, which brought the sea from that quarter, and exposed them more both to it and the wind. The anchors shortly after began to drag, and the vessel was urged in the direction of a rock. Fortunately the wind abated towards morning, and came from its old quarter, southwest, more off the land, but still blew with violence. On the morning of the 20th, one of their chain cables was found to have parted. The chain was hove in with some difficulty, and another anchor let go. The weather towards evening became again threatening, and produced no little anxiety. At nightfall it shifted in the same way it had done the previous evening, blowing again heavily. The ship was felt to be constantly dragging, accompanied by that grating kind of noise of the chain moving on the bottom, which is any thing but agreene. The rock astern, together with the reef toward which the wind and sea were both setting the ship, rendered their situation truly appalling. The prospect of any one surviving, in case they had struck, was extremely slight. The night was dark and stormy, and the dragging continued occasionally until midnight, when they found they had passed and escaped the rock, and were near the reef. They now shipped a heavy sea over the bows, the shock of which was so great that it parted their cables, and their drifting became rapid. From the set of the current, they just cleared the reef. When the point of the island bore east of south, they slipped their cables, wore round, and made sail; and on the 21st, at daybreak, they found themselves off Cape Gloucester. The conduct of Lieutenant-Commandant Long, his officers and men, during the perilous situation in which the Relief was placed, deserves great praise; they did their duty in every respect. On getting to sea, Lieutenant-Commandant Long, with a council of officers, opened his sealed instructions, which directed him to proceed to Valparaiso, in the event of not finding me on his return to Orange Harbour; and concluded to make for Valparaiso, off which port he arrived on the 13th of April, without anchors, which soon became known to Commandant Locke, of her Britannic Majesty's ship Fly. He, in the most prompt and handsome manner, despatched a boat with an anchor to the assistance of the Relief; and it affords me great pleasure to acknowledge the obligation we feel for this opportune service. The next day the Relief anchored in the bay of Valparaíso. But to return to Orange Harbour. The Flying-Fish arrived on the 11th April. The duties of the observatory having been completed, the instruments were embarked, and every thing made ready for our departure. During the Vincennes' stay here of sixty days, we found the weather exceedingly changeable. The winds prevailed forty-seven days from the westward, twelve days from the north and eastward, and one from the southeast. The mean temperature was 44.36°; maximum, 56°, minimum, 32°. During this time there were eleven gales of wind, of from two to three days' duration. The mean range of the barometer was 29.801 in. ; its movement in predicting the weather, was directly opposite to that observed in other latitudes, the gales always commencing when the barometer began to rise, fine weather generally continuing until it reached its minimum, 29.109 in., to which it sinks in from twenty-four to thirty-six hours and where it remained stationary for a few hours, during all which time the weather continued good. As the barometer begins to rise, the gales come on, and continue until the mercury again reaches nearly its maximum point, 30-244 in.