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On the 6th March the wind shifted to the northward, with snow. Great numbers of penguins, Cape pigeons, and whales, were around the vessel.
The 7th commenced with rain and snow. The wind was light and from the westward; it gradually hauled to the southwestward and blew fresh. While making all way to the northward, the fog lifted, and high land was reported within a short distance of us. A few moments more, and we should have been wrecked. This proved to be Elephant Island. We found from its position that we had been set upwards of fifty miles to the eastward, in the last four days, by the current. We passed to leeward of it. The sea was too high to attempt a landing. In the afternoon it cleared, and from our observations we found Cape Belsham, its eastern point, well placed. We passed between it and Cornwallis Island. The Seal Rocks were also seen and observed upon.
Elephant Island is high and of volcanic appearance; its valleys were filled with ice and snow.
We tried the deep-sea temperature. At the surface it was found to be 36°, whilst at three hundred fathoms it was 33o.
We now stood to the northward, and until the 14th had continued bad weather, accompanied with heavy seas. On this day we made the land.
On the 16th we were off the Straits of Le Maire, where I again tried the deep-sea temperature, with a wire sounding-hne, which parted at three hundred and forty fathoms, and we lost the apparatus. I then made a second experiment, with a line of rope four hundred fathem in length. The temperature of the surface was 44°, of the water below, 37o. This was about sixty miles to the eastward of the place where I had sounded before, on the 15th February, when passing around Cape Horn in the Vincennes.
March 17th, we had light winds from the eastward, and a smooth sea, with delightful weather. There was, however, a heavy bank of cumuli to the southwestward, and after a few hours' calm, the wind came from that quarter, and began to blow fresh, accompanied with heavy squalls. We did not succeed that night in reaching New Island, where it was my intention to have anchored and rode out the gale. We in consequence found ourselves the next morning thirty miles to the eastward of our position on the previous evening, having drifted at the rate of three miles an hour. From appearances, I inferred that the gale had set in for several days; I therefore determined to make for Good Success Bay, and await the breaking up of
the storm, being satisfied we could make little progress to the westward during its continuance.
We anchored in the bay early in the afternoon, when we took our boats and went on shore for a few hours. There was but little surf when we landed, but it rapidly increased, and one of the boats in attempting to pass through it filled, and after several ineffectual attempts, did not succeed in getting off. A boat was sent to assist, but returned with a report that no relief could be rendered them, and that they had determined to remain until morning.
In the morning the surf had very much increased. The sea setting in the bay, rendered our situation uncomfortable, and somewhat dangerous, as we were exposed to the force of it and the wind, which nad hauled to the southeast.
At 1 P. M., being desirous of sending provisions to the party on shore, Lieutenant Hartstein was ordered to take charge of two boats, to communicate with them, and give them supplies.
My intention was to effect this by having a line floated on shore by which to haul the seal-boat or yawl, having provisions lashed in her, through the surf by the party on shore. Instructions to this effect were given to Lieutenant Hartstein, who was enjoined not to risk the lives of the men. We watched them attentively with our glasses. Shortly after they had anchored their boats outside the surf, we perceived Lieutenant Hartstein and three men strapping on their lifepreservers, and preparing themselves for a landing in the boat. I felt under great apprehensions of accident. Placing, however, great confidence in that officer's judgment, I was assured he would not risk the lives of the men, and his own, on such an occasion. It was with great anxiety we watched their proceedings; in a few moments afterwards they were separated from the other boat, still apparently making preparations. In an instant they were borne on the crest of the rollers, and immediately disappeared. Some few minutes after, the boat was seen bottom up among the rollers. Presently, the other boat's crew were seen pulling in haste towards a person; one was picked up, then another. We looked intently for the rest, but no signs of them were seen. We then endeavoured to count the party on shore, and we thought it had increased, but the constant motion of the vessel rendered it impossible to keep our glasses fixed on them for a sufficient length of time to ascertain their number. We now saw the boat returning; it soon reached the vessel, and Lieutenant Hartstein and Samuel Stretch proved to be the two that had been saved. Both were much exhausted. The persons in the boat, while yet at a distance
from the brig, to relieve our anxiety, gave us the joyful intelligence that Williams and Moore had reached the shore in safety.
Lieutenant Hartstein, on recovering from his exhaustion, informed me, that on arriving at the surf and anchoring the boat, he found it impossible to carry into effect the intention of getting a line on shore. He then concluded that in the surf-boat, with oars, and a line from the boat outside, they might land in safety. Samuel Stretch, John Williams, and Samuel Moore, volunteered to accompany him. They strapped on their life-preservers, with which they were provided, and were preparing themselves for the trial, when a wave curling without them, carried them forward with rapidity ; in an instant the boat was thrown end over, and they found themselves struggling for life in a furious surf. Had it not been for the life-preservers, they must all have been drowned. The under-tow assisted in bringing Stretch and himself out, (neither of whom could swim,) together with the boat. Williams and Moore swam to the beach.
The night proved dark and stormy, and the squalls were furious.
The morning of the 21st dawned with no better prospect. All our endeavours to get a supply of provisions to the party on shore by kites, &c., failed, and it was now deemed advisable for the safety of the brig, to slip our cables and go to sea on the making of the flood, which sets out of the bay. Previous to this time, we were employed in supplying the yawl with provisions, intending to leave her as a buoy to our cable and anchor; and, to prevent her from sinking, our India-rubber life-spars were lashed in her.
When the time arrived, there appeared no alteration for the better. We slipped our cable, and stood out of the bay under our storm-sails. A very heavy sea was encountered in the straits, and particularly in the race that is formed on the Staten Land side; but we passed through without difficulty or accident. When we got under the lee of that island, we had smooth water, almost a calm, and moderate weather. The contrast was great indeed, from the violent gale we had just left.
On the 22d and 23d we had light winds, and were drifted to the northward some thirty miles, occasionally passing through rips and tide eddies. We had generally between fifty and sixty fathoms water, with soundings of sand, shells, and coral.
On the 24th, it being calm, we anchored in forty-four fathoms, off Cape St. Diego, to await the tide, and found the current running at the greatest strength two and a half miles per hour.
We did not again reach Good Success Bay until the night of the 25th, after five days' absence, when we found the party had got the
provisions, and were all well. At daylight on the 26th they came on board. On the 27th we recovered our anchor, and on the 28th set sail for Orange Harbour.
On the evening of the 29th, having entered Nassau Bay, (it being quite dark,) as we were standing as we supposed over for Orange Harbour, we heard the surf, and suddenly discovered that we were close in and among the kelp; we immediately anchored, in six fathoms.
At daylight we found ourselves in a snug cove of Wollaston's Island, and discovered that it was the false pack-saddle to the southward of the island which had served to mislead us.
We were here visited by a canoe with six natives, two old women, two young men, and two children. The two women were paddling, and the fire was burning in the usual place. They approached the vessel, singing their rude song, " Hey meh leh," and continued it until they came alongside. The expression of the younger ones was extremely prepossessing, evincing much intelligence and good humour. They ate ham and bread voraciously, distending their large mouths, and showing a strong and beautiful set of teeth. A few strips of red flannel distributed among them produced great pleasure; they tied it around their heads as a sort of turban. Knowing they were fond of music, I had the fife played, the only instrument we could muster. They seemed much struck with the sound. The tune of Yankee Doodle they did not understand ; but when “ Bonnets of Blue" was played, they were all in motion keeping time to it. The vessel at this time was under way, and no presents could persuade them to continue any longer with us. There was some disposition in the younger ones, but the adults refused to be taken where the fickleness of their climate might subject them to be blown off. We found them also extremely imitative, repeating over our words and mimicking our motions. They were all quite naked.
I have seldom seen so happy a group. They were extremely lively and cheerful, and any thing but miserable, if we could have avoided contrasting their condition with our own.
The colour of the young men was a pale, and of the old a dark copper colour. Their heads were covered with ashes, but their exterior left a pleasing impression. Contentment was pictured in their countenances and actions, and produced a moral effect that will long be remembered.
On the 30th we reached Orange Harbour. While yet off the port, we made signal for the boats, and were soon joined by them, and learned with much pleasure that they were all well. The Sea-Gull had
returned safely. Lieutenant Craven having entertained some fears of the safety of the launch, which had been absent on a surveying excursion, had despatched that vessel in pursuit of her.
The Sea-Gull returned to Orange Harbour from the southern cruise on the 22d of March, having, after parting company, visited, as directed, Deception Island. On the morning after she left us (5th March,) Lieutenant Johnson gives the following account of the situation of the Sea-Gull: “ The water was freezing about the decks, icicles, forming with the direction of the wind, enveloping every thing, shipping seas every five minutes, jib still hanging overboard, it was next to impossibility for us to make sail, and we should even have found difficulty in waring ship to avoid danger; our foresheets were of the size of a sloop of war's cable, from being so covered with ice; there was scarce a sheave that would traverse.” After encountering thick and foggy weather, they reached Deception Island on the 10th of March, and anchored in Pendulum Cove.
The weather was extremely unfavourable during his stay of a week, being very boisterous. The plan of this bay by Lieutenant Kendall, of the Chanticleer, with which I furnished Lieutenant Johnson, was found accurate. On their landing, the bare ground that was seen, was a loose black earth. The beds of the ravines and the beaches were of a black and reddish gravel, much resembling pumice-stone in appearance. Penguins were seen in countless numbers, or, as he expresses it, “ covered some hundreds of acres on the hill-side.” It was then the moulting season, and they were seen busily occupied in picking off each other's feathers. It was an amusing sight to see them associated in pairs, thus employed, and the eagerness with which the sailors attacked them with the oars and boat-hooks. They were not inclined to submit quietly to this intrusion, and in some instances readily gave battle. Their manner in doing it was to seize the aggressor with their bill, and beat him with their flippers. Their bearing was quite courageous, and their retreat dignified, as far as their ridiculous waddle would permit. They were showy-looking birds, with yellow topknots, and are known as the Aptenadytes chrysocoma.
As an accompaniment to these penguins, a small white pigeon, (Chironis or sheath-bill,) was found here, quite tame. These were easily taken in numbers. They are not web-footed, have red legs and bills, with perfectly white though not fine plumage. They seem to live entirely on the dung of the penguin, and their flesh is black, coarse, and unpalatable. Sailing up the bay, they descried a sea-leopard (the Phoca leopardina Jam), which Lieutenant Johnson succeeded in taking;