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Outrage at the Bay of Islands. -- Sail from New Zealand. -- Proposed Whaling Station at Auckland Islands. -- Dangerous Reefs. -- North-west Reef and Dangers off Chatham Island. --- Nimrod Islands. -- Penguins. -- Appearance of Land. -- Circle of Mean Temperature of the Southern Ocean. -- First Iceberg seen. -- Focus of Greater Intensity. --Enter the Pack. -- Animalculae. --Magnetic Observations on the Ice. -- Beset in the Pack. -- Meteorological Abstract for December.
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1841. Nov. 22.
All our arrangements being completed, the ships were unmoored on the evening of the 22nd of November, in readiness to sail at an early hour the next morning. Late at night Commander Sulivan brought on board a letter he had just received from a surgeon at Kororarika, who held also the office of coroner, stating he had received information that a most atrocious murder had been committed by a party of "Maoris," who, after killing Mrs. Robertson, an European woman, three children, and her man-servant, had set fire to the house; and the inhabitants of the town, being in dread of an immediate attack, requested that an armed force might be landed for their protection. As this application was not backed by the magistrate, although he had been solicited to do so by the constable whom the coroner had charged with the delivery of it, I suspected that he considered their fears groundless. I, however, directed Commander Sulivan to send a strong party immediately to the village to make more particular inquiries into the circumstances, and report to me, without loss of time. Lieutenant Ellerman, to whom this duty was intrusted, returned soon after midnight, and acquainted me that he had found the inhabitants in a state of
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MURDER AT BAY OF ISLANDS.
great excitement and alarm, but that he could not hear that any number of natives had assembled in the neighbourhood, and that many circumstances concurred to show that the murder had been an act of individual vengeance. It did not appear to me necessary to interfere any further; I therefore directed the force to be withdrawn as soon as their fear of an attack had subsided, as the civil authority was sufficiently powerful to arrest the murderer, who, of course, had fled into the bush. The natives had long threatened to repossess themselves of the island which Mrs. Robertson's husband had purchased several years before; for they thought when they sold their land it would again revert to the tribe on the decease of the purchaser. Mr. Robertson was drowned in sight of his own house shortly before this melancholy event, and Mrs. Robertson had the day previous to it attended the Court of the Commissioner for settling the claims to land, and had substantiated her right to the island in question: the murder following so immediately, led to the supposition that the deed had been clone by the tribe who claimed the island, and that they intended to establish their claim by force. But the following account of the horrid tragedy which is given by Mr. Marjoribanks in his recent account of New Zealand, places the event in its true light. He says that Mrs. Robertson, the widow of a Captain Robertson, was a Sydney lady, and resided on one of the numerous islands from which the Bay of Islands derives its name. It had belonged to
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MURDER AT BAY OF ISLANDS.
her husband, and at this time she and her family were the only occupants. She had employed this young chief, who was a remarkably powerful lad, though only sixteen years of age, to assist her white man servant, Thomas Bull, in some of her farming operations; and Thomas having told Mrs. Robertson that the Maori was a lazy fellow, he watched the opportunity, when Thomas was asleep, to split his skull open with an axe. Mrs. Robertson having accidentally happened to come upon him, when in the act of doing so, he judged it advisable to despatch her also with the same instrument, and then the two female children. Mrs. Robertson's son, seeing what was going on, fled to a mountain close by, but the monster overtook him, and threw him headlong over the rock, two hundred feet high, so that he was literally dashed to pieces. One of the children was the grand-daughter of Nene, the great chief of the Ngapuhi tribe, which principally inhabits Kororarika; and her murder, which led to hostilities between Nene and the notorious Heki, was the means of preventing the destruction of the town of Auckland and its inhabitants, which the latter had declared his intention to accomplish, and which even the humane and wise policy of Governor Fitzroy could not have averted.
The murderer, having effected his purpose, set fire to the house in order to conceal the foul deed; and it was seeing it in flames that excited the fears of the inhabitants of Kororarika, and led them to
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SAIL FROM NEW ZEALAND.
believe the whole tribe of "Maoris" was upon them. He was afterwards given up by his father, who dreaded the vengeance of Nene. He was taken to Auckland, tried, condemned, and executed on the 7th of March following, with great formality, being the first execution that had taken place in the colony since the establishment of the British government.
At 5 A.M. the following morning, we weighed and made sail out of the harbour, accompanied by the Favourite, until 10 A.M., when she parted company, giving us three cheers. Commander Sulivan proceeded to Auckland, to acquaint Governor Hobson with the murder which had been perpetrated at the Bay of Islands, and to act according to his wishes; for if he should have thought it proper to have taken any measures for the defence of Kororarika, the Favourite could have returned to that place the next day.
As soon as we got clear of the land we shaped our course for Chatham Island, which I was very desirous of visiting, not only for magnetic purposes, but because very little was known of its capabilities for colonisation, or as a whaling station, although for this latter purpose I had no doubt the Auckland Islands would be found far more suitable. I have much pleasure in stating that since the first volume of this narrative was printed, I have learned from good authority that Her Majesty's Government has granted, or engaged to grant, to those truly enterprising
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WHALING STATION AT AUCKLAND ISLANDS.
merchants, the Messrs. Enderby, by whose vessels they were discovered, the exclusive possession of the Auckland Islands; and that it is the intention of those gentlemen to form a company, for the purpose of carrying on from thence the southern whale-fishery. In a national point of view, whether as regards our maritime or commercial ascendency, an undertaking of this nature cannot fail to be of very great importance. Its successful accomplishment would prove the means of effectually restoring a profitable but decayed branch of our maritime trade, and of diverting a large number of our most efficient seamen from the vessels of the United States of America, in which they are now employed. In the whole range of the vast Southern Ocean, no spot could be found combining so completely the essential requisites for a fixed whaling station.
Possessing in themselves the great natural advantages of commodious harbours, a plentiful supply of good water and wood, with a superficies of about one hundred thousand acres, and lying in the vicinity of the Australian and New Zealand colonies, these islands present the greatest facilities for carrying on the southern fishery on the extensive scale, which the Messrs. Enderby contemplate. They are, moreover, situate, as it were, in the heart of the fishery, and in the track of ships returning to England from the Australian and Van Diemen's Land settlements. They are also conveniently placed, in a more
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WHALING STATION AT AUCKLAND ISLANDS.
general point of view, since every vessel in the Pacific must proceed to the southward beyond their latitude, before doubling Cape Horn, on their passage to England or America.
The Americans are fully sensible of the advantageous position of the islands, and frequently visit them for the purposes of refitting or refreshment; they are also resorted to for similar purposes by the whaling ships of France and other nations, whilst they have been hitherto only too much neglected by those of the nation to which they belong.
There is, besides, a further benefit to be anticipated from the islands becoming, as proposed, the future seat of a whaling station, on a systematic plan, which is, that their colonization will grow out of their being so appropriated; and what population could be more fitted to inhabit them than a race of hardy, enterprising British seamen?
This project is not a recent one on the part of the Messrs. Enderby, but was formed by them nearly three years ago, immediately upon the return of our expedition, contingently upon the islands being granted to them by the government; and I most cordially wish them the success their spirited conduct so well deserves.
We had a fine run during the night, and at Nov. 24. noon the following day we were in latitude 36 deg. 27' S. and longitude 177 deg. 34' E. In the evening the land of the East Cape was distinguishable, bearing S. 15 deg. W. (true). I was informed by the master of a schooner belonging to the Church of England
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Missionaries, who had made frequent visits to Poverty Bay, that there is a dangerous reef eighteen miles off shore, bearing due east by compass from the north head of the bay; it lies in a N. W. and S. E. direction, is three quarters of a mile long, and over it there is only five feet water; the breakers on it may be seen distinctly from the shore. It is a danger not generally known, and, therefore, it is the more necessary to call the attention of seamen to it: when the island is open with the point you are just abreast of the reef, but if shut in on either side, you are clear of it. He also mentioned to me that he had seen another reef due north from the north end of Flat Island, half a mile long, four inches above water at low water spring tides, and distant about eight miles from the land. Neither of these dangers was seen by us, and it is probable that their position is not very accurately determined.
During the day we observed many sooty albatross, the dark-coloured and elegant blue petrel, as also the Cape pigeon. At noon we were in lat. 38 deg. 17' S. and long. 179 deg. 51' E., and crossed the meridian of 180 deg. at 2 P.M. Soon after noon the wind veered to the southward, with considerable swell, so that the ship could not lie her course, and made much leeway; the breeze freshening as the evening advanced, and blowing a gale by midnight.
Having, by sailing to the eastward, gained twelve hours, it became necessary, on crossing the 180th degree, and entering upon west longitude,
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CROSS MERIDIAN OF 180 DEG.
1841. Nov. 25.
in order that our time might correspond with that of England, to have two days following of the same date, and by this means lose the time we had gained and still were gaining, as we sailed to the eastward.
We had, therefore, two Thursdays and two twenty-fifth days of November in succession; so that, after crossing the meridian, and having made the alteration of a day, instead of being twelve hours in advance, we became so much in arrear of the time in England, which would gradually diminish as we pursued our easterly course, until on our return we should find them in exact accordance. Had we not made this alteration, our Christmas-day and New Year's-day would have been one day earlier than in England. It is fortunate we did not cross into west longitude on either of those days, for two such holidays in succession would have been a still more novel circumstance.
The sea exhibited many large luminous patches during last night, and to-day many stormy petrel, and immature birds of the large albatross kind and small dark petrel were numerous.
In the evening the gale abated, but the wind continuing fresh from the southward, we made but small progress; and as the adverse breeze prevailed the whole of the two following days, we
found ourselves at noon still a hundred and eighty miles from Chatham Island, being in latitude 39 deg. 16' S., longitude 177 deg. 2' W. At 1 P.M. we tried for soundings, with six hundred fathoms, without striking ground. It was quite calm at the time, so we tried the temperature of the sea, as follows: at
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SUDDEN FALL OF TEMPERATURE.
600 fathoms it was 44 deg.9; at 450 fathoms, 46 deg.8; at 300 fathoms, 49 deg.2: at 150 fathoms, 53 deg.5; and at the surface, 58 deg.; the specific gravity of the surface water, 1.0274; at 150 fathoms, 1.0272, and at 450 fathoms, 1.0268; all tried at the temperature of 60 deg., and showing that the water beneath was specifically lighter than that of the surface, when brought to the same temperature; our almost daily experiments confirmed these results.
Soon afterwards a breeze sprang up from the northward; heavy showers of rain, and a falling barometer, as usual accompanied the northerly wind; but what surprised us was, that the temperature of the air fell in the course of two hours from 63 deg. to 54 deg.; that of the surface of the sea not being altered by the change of wind. It is probable that this effect was produced by the rain having fallen from a great elevation, and therefore of a very low temperature; but it was unfortunately omitted to be noted.
At eight in the evening of the 29th, we were Nov. 29. only fifty miles distant from the Sister Islets, and a reef of rocks which lies about six leagues to the northward of Chatham Island; but as the night was fine and the wind favourable, we continued our course for its N. W. point, named Point Allison, heaving to occasionally to try for soundings, as we approached these dangerous and almost unknown shores.
Thick weather came on during the night, which rendered these precautions the more necessary.
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We saw large patches of sea-weed; and the number and variety of sea-birds greatly increased. The minute petrel (the equivalent of the little auk of the northern regions, and very like it), as well as the black-backed gull, neither of which are met with far from land, and the long-snouted porpoise, were particularly numerous; one of these creatures was struck with a harpoon, and in its formidable jaws we found the teeth, which the New Zealanders value highly as ornaments, and which had puzzled us greatly to ascertain to what animal they belonged.
Shortly before eight in the morning breakers were seen directly ahead of us, and about one mile distant, which obliged us to alter our course slightly to avoid them. These rocks are called the Northwest Reef, and lie about five miles in that direction from the Sister Islets; they cover a space not exceeding fifty yards in diameter, and no part of the rocks could be seen above water. The fog at this time became so thick that we could not see any object at more than half a mile distance; and although we must have passed quite close to the Sister Islets, which are about one hundred feet high, we did not see them. Steering direct for Point Allison, with hopes of the fog clearing away about noon, we found ourselves at that time above three miles to the northward of it, and in half an hour afterwards passed within a mile of it, without being able to distinguish it through the dense fog that prevailed. We had some difficulty in keeping the
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DANGERS OFF CHATHAM ISLAND.
Terror in company, by constantly firing guns; and finding it impossible to make the land, I was unwilling to lose time by waiting for more favourable weather; so, after heaving to for a short time in the afternoon, and sounding in one hundred fathoms, on a bank of greenish sand, we bore away to the south-westward, to get clear of the west reef before dark.
The temperature of the sea at one hundred fathoms on this bank was 50 deg.2, being as low as that at two hundred fathoms in the deep sea of yesterday.
We passed the west reef so near as to hear the roar of the sea breaking over it, but the thick fog prevented our seeing it; and as soon as we got well clear of all the known dangers that surround the Chatham Islands, we steered to the south-eastward, for the purpose of ascertaining a magnetic desideratum of great interest. It was supposed that a second point of greater magnetic intensity would be found in about the lat. 60 deg. S. and long. 125 deg. W., but as our time did not admit of our going to the spot, our course was so directed as to enable us to cross the lines of the Isodynamic oval in such places as should be best calculated to secure its accurate determination.
The wind prevailed from the N. E., but the foggy weather continued the greater part of the next day. Our observations at noon placed us in lat. 45 deg. 40' S., long. 176 deg. 41' W., by which also we found that we had been carried S. 8 deg. W. twenty-
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eight miles by a current, the greater part of which I have no doubt occurred as we passed along the west side of the Chatham Islands, where we observed, in many places, strong ripples and whirls of tide.
Many patches of seaweed were passed during the day, and the albatross and several small kinds of petrel played about us in great numbers.
It was a beautiful day, the wind fresh from the N. E.; and again we found the current had carried us twenty miles in a S. 4 deg. W. direction. In the afternoon we passed a wicker basket and several small pieces of wood, from which we concluded that we were crossing the track of some vessel homeward bound from Tasmania.
Diverted from our proper course by the N. E. wind, we gradually approached the supposed locality of a small group of islands called the Nimrods, but as they have been searched for so often without success, I should have looked for them rather to the east or west of their presumed position, had the wind suited, and far from the tracks of other navigators; but my purpose was defeated by adverse circumstances of wind and weather, so that we could not get within two hundred miles of their assigned place. Dec. 3. Several sperm whales were seen this morning, and during the night we had observed a great number of luminous patches, and some very large pyrosoma were taken in the towing net: a boat was lowered in the afternoon to try the current,
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TEMPERATURE OF THE OCEAN.
whilst making the usual experiments on the temperature of the sea; it was found to be setting to the southward (true), nine miles in the twenty-four hours. Some pieces of seaweed, with barnacles attached to them, were brought on board. The barometer attained the unusual height of 30.45 inches, with a moderate N. E. wind and overcast sky. At night the cry of penguins was heard, and again the luminous patches in the sea were numerous and brilliant.
This morning we had a very light breeze from the N. E., and towards noon it fell perfectly calm, with the surface of the ocean beautifully smooth; thus affording a most favourable opportunity of trying its temperature at a great depth. A new line had been prepared for the purpose, and thermometers were attached to it at intervals of one hundred and fifty fathoms: we had no soundings with eleven hundred fathoms, and beyond this I did not venture to send the thermometers. In hauling the line in it broke, and two of the new thermometers which had been sent out to me for the purpose of deep sounding, were lost; we had still three others left, and the opportunity was too good to be lost, notwithstanding this accident. Another line was immediately prepared, and the thermometers which were sent down to a thousand and fifty fathoms came up again quite safe, after sustaining such enormous pressure, and recording the temperature at that deep region of the ocean to be exactly 40 deg., or thirteen degrees below that of the surface. The tem-
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perature at the intermediate depths was as follows: at 900 fathoms, 40 deg.2; at 750 fathoms, 41 deg.; at 600 fathoms, 42 deg.2; at 450 fathoms, 44 deg.5; and at 150 fathoms, 48 deg.7: so that the mean temperature of the ocean is at least nine hundred fathoms below the surface in latitude, 49 deg. 17' S., and longitude, 172 deg. 28' W.
These experiments, which had occupied us about five hours, were hardly completed, when a breeze sprang up from the northward, before which we made all sail. Sperm whales, patches of sea-weed, and flocks of penguins, were seen in such abundance, that I was in great hopes of meeting with land. Although we did not see any, I think it not improbable that some small islands may be eventually found in this neighbourhood, however much the great depth of the sea may seem to militate against the supposition. The penguins were all going to the eastward, and I have no doubt proceeding to their breeding quarters, perhaps to the Nimrod Islands. It is a wonderful instinct, far beyond the powers of untutored reason, that enables these creatures to find their way, chiefly under water, several hundred miles, to their place of usual resort, as each succeeding spring season of the year arrives.
Another most beautiful day. A large shoal of the bottle-nose whales played about the ship, and kept company for several hours. A piece of drift timber and many patches of sea-weed were seen; great numbers of penguins of a large species were observed making their way to the eastward; and,
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APPEARANCE OF LAND.
probably from our expectation of seeing land, many false reports of it were made from the masthead: dense clouds arose in the evening to the eastward, whose strongly marked outline assumed the appearance of land, and were the cause of these frequent mistakes.
Favoured by a strong breeze from the S. W., we Dec. 9. made good progress during the next two days, and by noon on the 9th we had reached the latitude of 52 deg. 32' S. and longitude 161 deg. 20' W. The magnetic dip had increased to 70 deg. S., and the variation was 15 deg. 10' E. The breeze increased to a strong gale soon after noon, with rain and occasional snow squalls, which reduced the temperature of the air from 42 deg. to 34 deg. during their continuance, -- the barometer falling quickly to 29.1 inches at midnight. It was a severe night, and felt more so by us from the suddenness of the change of both the temperature and weather. As we had no apprehension of meeting ice in so low a latitude, we pursued our course before the gale, although the snow fell so thickly at times, that we could not see more than a quarter of a mile before us.
The gale which continued throughout the next day, shifted to the south-eastward in the afternoon, and reduced us to close-reefed topsails; the change of wind brought clear weather, but prevented our getting so near to the Nimrod Islands as I wished. At noon we were in lat. 53 deg. S. and long. 157 deg. 49' W.; the islands, therefore, bore S. 6 deg. W., 212 miles from us, which was the nearest approach to them we
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CIRCLE OF UNIFORM TEMPERATURE
were able to make. Our observations proved that for the last few days we had been carried to the S. 60 deg. E. by a current, at the rate of fifteen miles daily, similar to that we detected between Kerguelen Island and Van Diemen's Land, and which probably circulates round the globe in a belt of about five degrees on each side of the 50th parallel of south latitude. 1 We still continued to meet with patches of seaweed, and the birds I have before enumerated. To-day a great number of grampuses were seen and a few whales.
As we were now getting near the latitude in which, from our former observations, we might expect to cross the circle of uniform temperature of the ocean, our experiments for the determination of this interesting point in physical geography were made at every opportunity: and, according to our expectation, we reached it on the 13th, in latitude 55 deg. 18' S., longitude 140 deg. 20' W. Unfortunately it was blowing too fresh for us to obtain the temperatures below six hundred fathoms: at that depth it was 39 deg.7; at 450 fathoms, 39 deg.7; at 300 fathoms, 39 deg.9; at 150 fathoms, 39 deg. 6; and at the surface, 39 deg. I have no doubt, that had we been able to measure the temperature to several thousand fathoms, we should have found it not to differ to the amount of one degree throughout the whole depth.
The next day proving more favourable for the purpose, thermometers were sent down to one
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OF THE SOUTHERN OCEAN.
thousand two hundred fathoms, and recorded a temperature of 39 deg.7, between that depth and three hundred fathoms; at 150 fathoms it was 38 deg.; that of the surface having: fallen to 35 deg.8; the effect of radiation of heat from the ocean, therefore, extended to the depth of more than 150 fathoms, proving clearly that we were to the southward of the circle of uniform temperature. Our position at this time was, lat, 50 deg. 20' S., long. 148 deg. 8' W. In the forenoon we had crossed a line of ripple, lying in a north and south direction, but our trial of the current failed from mismanagement, and the weather becoming densely foggy, it was not repeated. We also passed a small piece of sea-weed, the last trace of vegetation we saw in our way to the south, and therefore worthy of notice, more especially as we were now in the latitude where we might expect to meet floating ice.
Although the fog was very thick all night, and the wind light from the N. E., yet we contrived to keep company by firing muskets, sounding the gong, or ringing the bell; and had thus an opportunity of judging the relative value of these three methods usually employed as fog signals.
To us the bell was most distinct, and the gong very little inferior, when the musket was scarcely audible; but I was much surprised, at this time, on hailing through a speaking-trumpet, to receive an immediate and so clear an answer from the officer of the watch of the Terror, that we might have carried on a conversation.
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1841. Dec. 15.
A dense fog prevailed throughout the whole of the following day: we were now nearly a hundred miles to the southward of where Cook and Biscoe met with icebergs, still we proceeded on our course with confidence, the temperature of the sea being 36 deg. In the afternoon a boat was lowered down to try the current, which we found setting S. E., at the rate of fifteen and a half miles daily. The barometer rose steadily, notwithstanding which the fog was so thick, that although we could hear the voices of those on board the Terror, and every order that was given, we could not see the vessel. Towards midnight the temperature of the sea fell rather suddenly, to below 34 deg.,
and at 5h 30m A.M. two icebergs were seen, and at 6h a third berg, right ahead of us. The fog had cleared away for a short time, which enabled us to see the bergs: and, in passing within half a mile of the largest, the temperature of the sea was rather below 33 deg..
The height of this berg was one hundred and thirty feet, and its circumference three quarters of a mile. It was one of the table-topped, or barrier kind, and deep caverns had been worn into its vertical sides by the action of the sea: a long line of loose pieces extended several miles to leeward of it, and many large masses appeared ready to fall from it, to continue the line of fragments, as the others drifted away before the wind.
At noon we were in latitude 58 deg. 36' S., longitude 146 deg. 13' W. The magnetic dip had increased to
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FOCUS OF GREATER INTENSITY.
73 deg. 23' S., and the variation 14 deg. 40' E. It is a curious fact, that although we caught numerous marine mollusca in the towing net yesterday, it was not until we got near the bergs that the beautiful diminutive argonaut (Argonauta arctica) of the Arctic seas was taken. Cape pigeons were now become more numerous, and the large albatross more rare. The sooty albatross was still seen in considerable numbers, as were also the dark and the blue petrel.
In the afternoon we hove to, and tried the temperature of the sea, to the depth of six hundred fathoms; after which we bore away under more moderate sail; the fog being very thick, great vigilance was necessary during the night, whilst running seven knots, to avoid bergs and enable the Terror to keep company.
As we had now attained that meridian on which I intended to penetrate to the antarctic seas, our course was changed to due south, which was also the most favourable for determining the situation of the several lines of equal magnetic intensity, leading directly across them; our observations had by this time shown that the supposed position of the second focus of greater intensity in this hemisphere was very distant from the truth, and that that point had yet to be sought far to the south.
But my chief object in selecting this meridian was the hope that it would lead to the discovery of land, which I was led to expect by reason of the low
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APPROACH THE PACK.
latitude in which the ice had been met with by former navigators, -- at any rate, I thought it better to attain the eastern point of the great southern barrier, at which our operations last year had been interrupted by the setting in of the winter, by a route as widely different as practicable from that by which we had before approached it; and thus enlarge the boundary of our examination of those regions.
We passed only a few icebergs during the night, but many very heavy loose pieces, doubtless fragments of broken-up bergs, sufficiently large to destroy any ordinary ship that might strike against them, at the rate we were sailing; the fog had, however, in some degree cleared away, and having no difficulty in avoiding them, we had a fine run. The snow showers which followed in the morning were only of short continuance, and during the longer intervals of clear weather, we could see to a great distance from the mast-head.
At noon we were in lat. 61 deg. 3' S., long. 146 deg. W. We had, therefore, passed beyond the track of the Russian navigator, Bellingshausen, upon this meridian, and were fast approaching that of Cook, in 1774.
Some whales, numerous gray petrel, and Cape pigeons were seen. At 5 P.M. a strong iceblink appeared in the sky to the S. E.; the temperature of the sea also falling to 29 deg. at midnight, gave notice of our approach to a large body of ice: and at three o'clock the following morning the
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ENTER THE PACK.
1841. Dec. 18.
main pack was seen stretching across our course, from east to west. At this time there were forty large bergs in sight.
All the circumstances appearing favourable, we at once ran into the pack, and at first made good way through it, the ice being remarkably light and very open; but as we proceeded south it became heavier, and more strongly pressed together, until, after having penetrated about thirty miles, we were obliged to steer more to the westward, availing ourselves of every opportunity of resuming our southerly course when the ice permitted. We were at noon in lat. 60 deg. 50' S., long. 147 deg. 25' W.; and the magnetic dip had increased to 76 deg. S., the variation to nearly 19 deg. E.
Immediately upon entering the ice we found the temperature of the sea 28 deg., that of the air being 32 deg.; and for the first time the beautiful snow-white petrel and the gigantic petrel were seen, also a few whales of the finner kind, and some small seals were basking on the ice.
As we advanced through the pack during the rest of the day, we observed the ice to be very much stained in some places, and upon examination we found it to be caused by matter of a yellowish colour, similar to that we had met with off Mount Erebus, and which led me to suppose it to be aluminous or other minute crystals ejected from that volcano. It has been since ascertained by that eminent naturalist Ehrenberg, whose wonderful researches with the microscope have detected large
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mineral masses and extensive formations, composed wholly of the remains of microscopic animalculae, that this colouring matter consisted of countless myriads of an entirely new and minute form of organic life, which he observes arrived at Berlin, in 1844, in a living state, and of which "almost all the separate atoms are independent siliceous-shelled creatures." 2 We also found this colouring; matter in the stomachs of the small Beroe and other molluscous animals we took in the net, which therefore feed upon these infusoria.
In the evening many whales were seen amongst the ice, and were so tame that the ship struck upon one in passing over it, without having done it any harm, although a shock was felt, but whether from the force with which the vessel struck the whale, or from a blow of its tail, given in return, we could not know.
The wind wras moderate from the south-eastward, and the weather clear, but the ice to the southward so close that we were obliged to run more to the westward than we wished, forcing our way from hole to hole as they came in sight from the masthead, and keeping as much to the southward as possible until noon, when our progress was interrupted by the closeness of the pack. I took this early opportunity of obtaining magnetic observations on a large floe of ice, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the corrections we em-
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MAGNETIC OBSERVATIONS ON ICE.
ployed for the effect of the ship's iron were still to be depended upon. We were at this time in latitude 63 deg. 23' S., longitude 149 deg. 58' W., having penetrated the pack nearly one hundred miles in a south-west direction. The magnetic observations on the ice agreed very satisfactorily with those made on board the skips; by them we found the magnetic dip to have increased to 77 deg. 23' S., and the variation to 20 deg. 2' E.; on board the Erebus the dip was 77 deg. 25' S., the variation 20 deg. 14' E.
The ice slackened in the afternoon, and we pushed the ships nearly twenty miles further to the S. S. W. by midnight, when we were again stopped.
We made considerable progress next morning, by taking advantage of every opening that occurred, although the thick fog, which came on early in the forenoon, prevailed throughout the day. Numerous whales, seals, Cape pigeons, and white petrel were seen, and two or three flocks of an elegant little tern were observed flying to the south-westward. At noon we were in lat. 63 deg. 47' S., long. 151 deg. 34, W.; in the course of the afternoon, the ice again closed, and prevented our getting any further; we tried for soundings, and struck ground in one thousand seven hundred fathoms. The temperature of the sea at 900 fathoms was 39 deg.8; at 750 fathoms, 39 deg.6; at 000 fathoms, 40 deg.; at 300 fathoms, 38 deg.4; at 150 fathoms, 35 deg.6; and at the surface, 30 deg. The experiment at 450 fathoms failed through an acci-
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dental blow the thermometer received; but it is quite clear from that at 300 fathoms, that the mean temperature of the ocean in this latitude is about six hundred fathoms beneath the surface. We did not repeat the experiment as the ice opened, and allowed us to make some way to the southward through it; and those who wish to penetrate an extensive pack, must never miss any opportunity, however trifling, that may present itself, for it is always difficult to know how far it may lead you, or if neglected, how irretrievable may be the loss. Whilst we were hove to, three seals were killed on the ice and brought on board; they offered no resistance, and did not seem to apprehend any harm from our people, whom they suffered to approach near enough to knock them on the head with bludgeons; in the stomach of one of them were about nine pounds in weight of granite stones, which we imagined it must have got from off the floating ice, as we knew of no land within a thousand miles of us; in the stomach of another were the mutilated remains of some fish about the size of a herring, and in all of them great numbers of a large red shrimp, which appears to constitute their chief food.
During the next few days we were much embarrassed by fogs and light winds, chiefly from the eastward, and made but little progress in the desired direction, so that we found ourselves on the twenty-fifth in latitude 66 deg. S. and longitude 156 deg. 14' W. and passed our Christmas-day, closely
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beset in the pack, near to a chain of eleven bergs, of the barrier kind, and in a thick fog the greater part of the day, with by no means a cheering prospect before us; we, nevertheless, managed to do justice to the good old English fare, which we had taken care to preserve for the occasion.
The wind shifted early in the day to the northward, and towards the evening increased to a strong breeze, accompanied with thick weather and snow; we were at this time in a large hole of clear water, but were not able to find any way out of it to the southward; and as this unfavourable weather continued for some days, we could do nothing more than dodge about from side to side, or occasionally run along the edge of the hole, under easy sail, manoeuvring the vessels so as to keep them from getting beset, and ready to take advantage of any favourable change that might occur of pushing through the pack to the southward. On the evening of the thirtieth, it became
quite calm and the ice spread out so as to shut up the hole we were in, but without opening sufficiently to admit of our making any way through it, when a light air sprung up from the northward. We, therefore, made our ships fast to the largest piece of ice we could get hold of, mooring it between the ships to prevent their coming into collision with each other, and employed our crews in filling the water tanks with ice from the floe, the small pools of water which we found on it being too brackish to drink.
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The northerly wind had brought with it a remarkable elevation of the temperature of the air, the thermometer rising to 40 deg. at noon. We were at this time in latitude 66 deg. 30' S., and had, therefore, not yet crossed the Antarctic Circle; and during the last week we had not made more than thirty miles of southing, in the longitude of 156 deg. 19' W.: the magnetic dip 80 deg. 26' S., and the variation 25 deg. 36' W.
The calm, with thick fog and snow, continued throughout the day, and our ships remained fast to the piece of ice between them; we could perceive by the bergs we were drifting very slowly to the southward, and the year closed upon us under as unpromising appearances as can be imagined. During the day many seals and white petrel, a few of the gigantic petrel, one entirely white, and a pair of the rapacious Skua gull, were seen.
We took advantage of the opportunity which this unlooked-for detention afforded us of obtaining a careful comparison of the magnetic instruments of the two ships, and were gratified to find they maintained their usual exactness of accordance.
Experiments in the temperature and specific gravity of the ocean, at various and considerable depths, were also made; and as they gave occupation to our crew, so they served, in some measure, to relieve the tedious and wearisome hours of our imprisonment and inactivity. The pack in which we were involved consisted, for the most part, of heavy floe ice, which had been much broken
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up, and pressed and heaped together so as to form the most irregular-shaped masses: severe, indeed, must have been the pressure at some period, as not a single level floe could be seen amongst it, and it seldom happened that we met with any piece exceeding a quarter of a mile in circumference, thus presenting a striking difference of character in the pack of the Antarctic from that of the Arctic Sea, where floes of several miles in diameter are of common occurrence, and sometimes "fields" as they are termed, whose boundary is beyond the reach of vision from a ship's mast head. The cause of this is explained by the circumstance of the ice of the southern regions being so much more exposed to violent agitations of the ocean, whereas the northern sea is one of comparative tranquillity.
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ABSTRACT OF THE METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT ON BOARD HER MAJESTY'S SHIP EREBUS. -- DECEMBER, 1841.
ABSTRACT OF THE METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT ON BOARD HER MAJESTY'S SHIP EREBUS. -- DECEMBER, 1841.
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ABSTRACT OF THE METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT ON BOARD HER MAJESTY'S SHIP EREBUS.--DECEMBER, 1841.
ABSTRACT OF THE METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT ON BOARD HER MAJESTY'S SHIP EREBUS.--DECEMBER, 1841.
For explanation of these symbols, see Appendix to Vol. I.