Thursday, December 31, 2009
The clouds lifted and before us lie the Admiralty Range, Mount Sabine being most visible, its peaks touched by snow glinting in the sky. They are still over 100 miles away, but a glorious sight!
Cherry came up all wrapped in his blankets to look, I think Atkinson had woken him.
Someone is running all up and down the ship ringing in the new year with the dinner bell.
It might be midnight, but the sun shines bright, and the fresh bracing air makes being on deck an exhilarating experience.
I wonder what trials the new year will bring, and where I shall be a year from now. In some stark place with the Pole in my hand no doubt!
72 degrees 54 minutes South, 174 degrees 55 minutes East.
We are at last in the Ross Sea, but not at the end of our misfortunes. We had a horrible night.
Very rough seas with swell and wind -- the ponies are suffering terribly. We sought some pack to protect us from the rocking, but it doesn't last long.
What a year. It is a pleasure to write 1910 for the last time.
From our sounding you can see how sharply the continental shelf rises here. But where is Cape Crozier?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
1111 fathoms! We are at the lip of the continental shelf and out of the pack at last! Twenty godforsaken days we lingered there, eating an astonishing ton of coal for every six miles progress.
How Lady Fortune turns us on her cruel wheel. On every occasion she seems to have decided against us.
Still, while held up we have managed some important scientific work and I have grown strangely attached to the Terra Nova, plucky little ship that she is. Certainly the Nimrod would never have reached the south water had she been caught in such pack. So strike one for us and none for Shackleton so far!
All the while, I have never seen a party of men so anxious to be doing work or so cheerful in doing it. When there is anything to be done, such as making or shortening sail, digging ice from floes for the water supply, or heaving up to the sounding line, it goes without saying that all the afterguard turn out to do it. There is no hesitation and no distinction. It will be the same when it comes to landing stores or doing any other hard manual labour.
the spirit of enterprise is as bright as ever. Every one strives to help every one else, and not a word of complaint or anger has been heard on board. the inner life of our small community is very pleasant to think upon and very wonderful considering the extremely small space in which we are confined.
The attitude of the men (the crew) is equally worthy of admiration. In the forecastle as in the wardroom there is a rush to be first when work is to be done, and the same desire to sacrifice selfish consideration to the success of the expedition. It is very good to be able to write in such high praise of one's companions, and I feel that the possession of such support ought to ensure success.
Fortune would be in a hard mood indeed if it allowed such a combination of knowledge, experience, ability, and enthusiasm to achieve nothing.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Today I wrote in my journals that:
"...the sky is overcast and slight sleety drizzle is falling; the sun has made one or two attempts to break through but without success."
It seems to me that I could have written that sitting at my desk in London in December, just the same.
I used the word "hopefullest" which I fear is not in fact a word. I have, however, run out of words to describe the possibility of hope when in fact what I feel is despair. How much longer can this go on? The new year will soon be upon us and I had wanted to be settled into our new home on land by now so that we may begin our programme of depot-laying journeys during what remains of the summer.
I take comfort in my pipe and tobacco, and read.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Bacon and Drayton,
"And in regions far
Such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came
And plant out name
Under that star
Not known unto our North."
-- To the Virginian Voyage, Drayton
"But be the workemen what they be, let us speake of the worke: that is, the true greatnesse of Kingdom and estates; and the meanes thereof."
-- Francis Bacon
Have raised steam.
The ponies are miserable, especially those under the forecastle. We brought one up for fresh air today, and it is in a most pathetic condition. It's hair is falling out in great clumps and it can barely stand. Have had some tense words with Oates about them. He wants me to use the deck as a sort of exercise yard so they may stretch their legs, but I can't have the boat being rocked to and fro like that.
Two leopard seals were spotted playing in our wake.
Have been enjoying the antics of the Adelie penguins, watching the way they are so graceful when under water. As one looks across the barren stretches of the pack, it is sometimes difficult to realise what teeming life exists immediately beneath its surface.
It makes one very much aware of one's place in the large scheme of things -- observing the smallest shrimps and fish and seals, penguins, skua and whales, and thinking how one feeds on the other. Beneath the placid ice floes and under the calm water pools the old universal warfare is raging incessantly in the struggle for existence.
Meanwhile, we lay about on deck sunning ourselves and reading. There I am smoking my pipe.
And here are the rest of the officers lazing about!
And the crew posed with an ice anchor and Nigger, of course.
Ponting has been busy today. Here's a view of the crow's nest from decks. You can see two chaps in there, and one out on the mast, if you look closely. He's probably taking them a flask of hot cocoa.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I expect you're sick to death of my going on about pack ice and the like. I am too. I wrote a lot about it in the journal, more than I ever thought I would, simply because it's been the only thing to report on for what seems like half my life.
I have a better idea of what is rotten in Denmark: I'm afraid the ice-house isn't going on so well as it might. There is some mould on the mutton and the beef is tainted. There is a distinct smell. I ordered the door of it open when the temperature fell below 28 degrees, in an effort to 'harden' the meat, but apparently you need air circulation. When the temperature goes down tonight we shall probably take the beef out of the house and put a wind-sail in to clear the atmosphere. If this does not improve matters we must hang more carcasses in the rigging. That ice-house cost me a fortune, too.
One has to be an expert in so many areas on an expedition such as this. One can't be expected to know everything. Clissold looks at me as though he wishes I'd consulted a food preservation professional before embarking, but really, how would that look? For a Commander of the British Royal Navy to go cap-in-hand to tradesmen for advice? He's just going to have to find a way to make it palatable, that's all. A good curry ought to take care of it.
I have noticed that towards the end of my journal entries I refer to myself in the second-person rather often. To wit:
"One must confess that things might be a great deal worse and there would be little to disturb one if one's release was certain, say in a week's time."
One feels this is appropriate, however, as one has to step away from one's work every now and then to contemplate it with perspective.
Good Lord, that stinks.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Our position tonight is very cheerless. One can only vaguely comprehend that things are happening far beyond our horizon which directly affect our situation. It is a very, very trying time.
Rennick got a sounding of 1843 fathoms today. Clearly we are still a very long way off the continental shelf. I can't help but think about Davy and Jones, those two ponies we had to haul overboard.
Am feeling extremely despondent, truth is. The men are all cheerful -- what choice to they have? -- but a Captain's job is a lonely one. I want to be able to do something about our situation but am impotent. I lay in my bunk and listen to the swoosh of the ice as it brushes the ship and feel so helpless.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Well, that's better, though I'll feel it in the morning, no doubt. Am hoarse with all the raucous singing -- you never in your life heard such a choir as ours. The navy men know the hymns, and the merchant sailors contribute quite a lusty and lively set of chanties whose content cannot be printed here. Ponting did us proud on the banjo.
The sledging banners were all hung about us and looked very festive.
Dinner was excellent: turtle soup, penguin breast served as an entree with red-currant jelly, asparagus, a great sirloin of roast beef, a plum pudding on fire, mince pies, preserved fruits and crackers, champagne, port and liqueurs. I was toasted and gave a small speech. We opened the small Christmas parcels we'd brought from home. We began at 6 and ended at 7. Thenceforth came 5 whole hours of the aforementioned chorus.
I thought the men ate as we did in the wardroom, but am since told that they turned their nose up at penguin and asked for mutton instead. Luckily, we have plenty hanging from the rigging.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
We are 69 degrees 5 minutes South, 178 degrees 30 minutes East. Temperature is 28 degrees F.
We are 69 degrees 5 minutes South, 178 degrees 30 minutes East. Temperature is 28 degrees F.
The scene is altogether too Christmasssy. We are surrounded by ice for miles around. Snowflakes fall and curious groups of penguins approach the ship, attracted no doubt by our wholesome noise. I suppose that to the others they look quaint, having never spent a holiday in these climes before. To me they just look like food. They behave very much like people though, which is worth pondering.
Ponting took these photographs of them today.
The mess is gaily decorated with banners of all kinds, and there was full attendance at Service this morning with lusty singing of hymns. In an effort to emulate the Holy Family, Crean's rabbit produced a litter of 17! They are at present warm and snug, tucked away beneath the fodder under the forecastle. I shall harbor no illusions about what will become of them, however.
The men have already had their dinner at midday, with plenty of beer and whiskey. This they celebrated by striking up a very merry band. I can hear a lot of activity all about the ship and there are delightful smells emanating from the galley. I am rather looking forward to the feast to break my dull mood. This inaction gives one black thoughts.
To waste coal or not to waste coal? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the pack to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to light fires against a sea of troubles and, by pushing through, end them. To sail, to stay -- no more -- and by staying we mean to end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that a ship is heir to -- 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To bank coals, to raise steam -- to raise steam, perchance to push on. Ay, there's the rub, for in pushing on what progress may be made, when we have shuffled off this infernal ice, must give us pause.
Alas, alas! Something is rotten in the Pack.
We are once more stuck fast, and all weight rests on me to decide whether it looks to be longer than 24 hours or less, yet there is no way for me to know. Raising steam from dead boilers is a dead loss of two tons; yet 24 hour's steam uses 2 tons also.
I have a two-ton headache.
I had better try and shift it before the carols.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
What can I tell you. We went on a bit and have now come to a stop again. It is cold out, as one would expect. Once we crossed the Antarctic Circle most aboard lost their taste for deck bathing, except for Bowers, that is. The man is remarkable. He's short, but with a deep barrel chest. He strips off to the buff, tosses a bucket overboard, hauls it up full of sea water, and then pours the lot over himself. He emerges a fiery red all over! Quite bracing, I'll bet.
Here's our Wardroom.
I'm at the head of the table of course.
You can just see Bower's enormous nose and some of his body on the very far left. Look at Gran in his dashing hat glaring at the camera! That's funny, because he otherwise loves to have his picture taken. That's Oates, "The Soldier," standing next to the portrait of His Majesty. Queen Alexandra is on the other side of the door. Cherry looks on from the far right, next to Oates.
The most important member of our illustrious company, however, is our teddy bear, who is present for all occasions of significance. He has perfected his salute, as you can see.
Nigger, the ship's cat, can usually be found skulking about our legs beneath the table waiting to be spoiled with scraps of penguin meat.
We also have on board three rabbits, a pigeon, some squirrels, and a guinea pig which lives in a tobacco container. Hoping the rabbits increase their number for our pies, the squirrels not so much.
Clissold has begun his preparations for our Christmas feast. I, for one, can't wait to tuck in. It's been a rough journey so far and we could all do with a bit of cheering up in the form of rich food, loads of bubbly, good cigars, and games. It's what Christmas is all about, isn't it?
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Not even the report that Atkinson discovered a new tapeworm in the intestines of an Adelie penguin cheers me up. It's only an eighth of an inch long, with a propeller-shaped head.
We are stuck fast in this pack ice and can get nowhere. I have let the fires die out as we cannot go on wasting coal - only 300 tons left in a ship that simply eats coal.
This is simply very bad luck. Fortune has determined to put every obstacle in our way. There can be no other explanation for our predicament. People say yes, but couldn't you have planned better? Let them try I say! It's not all about planning when luck goes against you. You can't plan for misfortune. You can't sit there in your office in London and ask yourself if you'll have enough coal in case you get stuck in pack ice for a month. You can't sit there and think about the possibility of the horses your whole enterprise relies on standing in their own filth for weeks and weeks on end getting weaker and weaker. You can't go, I wonder if we have enough food to feed 60-odd hungry men?
Well, I suppose you can, but we don't do things like that in England. That's not how real men head an expedition. We leave that sort of nonsense to the Norskies.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sitting here twiddling our thumbs going nowhere.
Luckily, Wilson has been out sketching and doing wonderful watercolors of the surrounding pack and bergs. He tried to capture some penguins out on the ice today by singing to them, and up they waddled quite happily until he stopped singing, and then all ran away!
Every now and then one can hear the strains of music coming up from below decks where one of the crew has fashioned a crude instrument out of a tin can and soldered an arm on it to hold string. Gran was quite impressed!
I do hope we have some decent piano players among us. We have several hundred recordings to play upon the gramophone. I'll have to get the Caruso out. That'll teach whoever it is warbling chanteys down there!
What a voice.
What a moustache.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
At noon we were 68 degrees, 41 minutes South, 179 degrees, 28 minutes West. Made good pace in the night, but today are help up yet again, and have banked fires. Bowers reported a floe 12 miles wide during the middle watch. This evening we have a force 6 wind knocking us about. We can see promising dark skies ahead which indicate open water, but we are still far off, I fear.
One of the ways we raised funds for the expedition was to offer sponsorship to schools for naming rights to our ponies, dogs, sledges, tents, and sleeping bags.
The ponies are:
Of course, we have already lost the two who died as a result of our first storm, but I can't recall if they were Davy, Jones, or Cuts. I must ask Oates.
We thus have two "Uncle Bills" on ship, which might prove confusing. Am sincerely hoping "Bones" and "Weary Willie" do not live up to their names. Much rides upon them.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Keeping the Captain's Log is a lonely business. I am required to make note of our position and the various particulars of our maneuvers and major events, and so forth -- but what a merely technical account reveals is really nothing like the reality of sailing in these conditions. It cannot portray, for example, how desperately nervous I am about our prospects.
Have made copious notes about the kind of pack ice we are in, describing the bergs. Have Asked Pennell to make a map of the pack. We know so little about it, where it comes from, how it travels, under what conditions it forms and breaks up.
This evening felt a little smug at the thought of being proved right in insisting we push on despite Evans suggesting twice that we stop. If indeed we break through, I will have won a major victory in the confidence of the men.
Saw first Emperor penguin today, and sea leopards. Also saw one of Wilson's new whales with a sabre dorsal fin I estimated to be 4 feet high.
Listed the officer's nicknames in the journal today. Men confined in close quarters always develop nicknames. Here it is:
Wilson: Uncle Bill
Simpson: Sunny Jim
Campbell: The Mate
Taylor: Griff and Keir Hardy
Nelson: Marie and Bronte
Oates: Titus, Soldier, "Farmer Hayseed"
Levick: Toffarino, Old Sport
Mears, Day, Gran and Bruce don't appear to have nicknames.
I am known as "The Owner." At least it's not a girl's name.
Friday, December 18, 2009
We discovered this fish -- a new species, I think -- Notothenia -- when we overturned an ice floe and it popped up on the underside.
We have been stopping and starting all day trying to forge our way through the pack. Made good headway for a while in open leads, and are now hung up again in heavy bay ice.
Wrote this in my Journal, obviously about the ice, but re-reading it just now, it reminded me instead of women at parties.
In general what we have observed on the opening of the pack means a very small increase in the open water spaces, but enough to convey the impression that the floes, instead of wishing to rub shoulders and grind against one another, desire to be apart. They touch lightly where they touch at all--such a condition makes much difference to the ship in attempts to force her through, as each floe is freer to move on being struck.
Thinking of Katherine, and how she will miss Peter's Christmas. Thinking too, about Ory Wilson and Hilda Evans, missing their husbands at this special time of year. We offer a toast to wives and girlfriends at dinner.
Happy with that fish, though. At least it's something.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We've been having rain! I've never known rain beyond the Antarctic Circle before. Let's hope it helps to melt this ice. We have been drifting for 48 hours now.
Am thoroughly enjoying Around The World On A Wheel. What an adventure! Here's what Fraser says of leaving London:
"We were going to strange lands. We had been told we were rash and foolish and mad, and we were hastening our deaths. We didn't believe it."
I should think not! Marvellous stuff. I thoroughly recommend it. Ask your local bookseller for a copy.
There's really nothing to do. I would be bored to tears if it wasn't for reading. Wilson keeps saying "are you sure there's nothing I can do to help with any of the planning," and "are you sure all the equipment is perfectly in order," which is beginning to get on my nerves. I do not like being second-guessed.
Here's the intrepid author with his companions and their mighty metal steeds:
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
If only it were possible to view the ice ahead of us from above, so that we may see whether any clear passage lies there. The crow's nest is simply not high enough. How nice it would be to have a balloon, as we did on Discovery, that we could lift a man up in to view our surroundings. But alas, no balloon, and no firm ground to light her from. Imagine being so high one could view the entire continent at once! It defies the imagination.
Always the decision whether or not to start fires. Getting the boiler going uses two whole tons of coal to bring up steam. Sometimes I despair that we shall find ourselves wintering here at sea, using all our precious fuel, and only having enough to get back to New Zealand in the Spring.
It's as if the ice has a mind of its own and is dead set against us.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
There's nothing more invigorating to the system and which make you feel more like a man than going for a ski before breakfast, as I did this morning. Plus, it gives one an enormous appetite! After breakfast, we doled out ski to the landing party, because they shall need to be able to ski when we land a few short weeks hence. I am glad for this chance for Gran to teach them beforehand. I would not do to have to land all the ship's stores using ski with men who have never had their feet in them. Mind you, there's something to be said for "learning on the job," as it were.
Meares took two dog teams out on the ice with sledges to help get them into condition, too, as several have grown very fat. It's hard to know how this happens since all they get to eat per days is two and a half dry biscuits.
We are continually drifting north, which is trying, but at least we're not drifting east. That would be a disaster.
I've found myself using the word "trying" rather too much of late. I must try not to.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Have spent much of the day out on the ice. We might as well make use of it while we are stuck here. It's 35 degrees, so not too bad.
Had a bit of a practice pulling weights -- Campbell, Evans and I took turns with one pulling the combined weight of the other two. It was easy enough. Gran is giving others skiing lessons. He is only a young chap, but already has the distinction of having instructed the Queen of Norway!
Oates and Atkinson have become genuine bosom buddies; they have been working up a sweat on the ice and have had to strip right down to their trousers.
We're all in snow goggles as the glare is exceptionally bright.
It is a relief to have something to do. I can't imagine how horribly depressing it is to be trapped in the pack like this for months and years, such as Nansen was. At least we have plenty of reading material: After I'm done with this I'm going to begin "Round The World On A Wheel," by J. Foster Fraser. It seems apt.
Posted by Micki Myers at 11:35 AM
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. Was up all night with the watch as we switched back and forward from pushing through ice and open leads, then coming up against solid ice and able to go nowhere. Everyone second-guessing me, I fear.
One feels tremendously the weight of the lives of these men under these conditions, where my decision alone consumes coal, and without coal, we all die. The mental anguish alone is exhausting.
So to conserve fuel we have cut fires and are stopped until better conditions prevail. It is what it is.
Have kicked Wilson out of our cabin for a bit so that I can catch some sleep.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Progress is slow. We are continually up against thick and thin ice, finding the occasional lead, but mostly going nowhere. At least there is drift to count on; we made 15 miles SE by this method alone. You're never really rooted to one spot at sea, whether you think you're moving or not; even when jammed fast in the ice, the ice, as a whole, moves, carrying you with it. This is how Nansen was able to achieve such success in the Fram. Of course the Fram was built to rise up out of the ice; we are not.
Gran, Oates and Bowers were out on the ice on ski. Ponting tells me that in recent years, ski have become very popular among winter-sporters in Switzerland. There's no accounting for what some people think of as fun. Ponting, meanwhile, has been out photographing whales coming up for air and was much caught off guard by a Blue Whale breaching right next to him!
Atkinson lit the blubber stove which we shall rely on for heat. The fat drips down onto an asbestos plate and the run off is collected. Good warmth, but horrid smell.
I just want to go to sleep.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Well, we're well and truly stuck here -- no leads, the ice pressed in all around us.
We have taken the opportunity to get a bit of exercise by trying out our skis on the floes. The skis and boots are very good, but Tryggve Gran has his work cut out for him, I fear, by the looks of the limbs akimbo. The men are very grudging about the possibility of ski, preferring instead to rely on their own two feet. It all seems so Scandinavian, somehow, and not at all English.
The skis are long and thin, solid wood. They are heavy, and one's legs do get awfully tired heaving them about. Still, at this point in our journey it does well to get acquainted with them as we shall need to use them on our sledge journeys.
I hope we get in enough practice before we begin.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Ice, ice, everywhere and not a drop to drink...
Actually, that's not at all true: we brought on 8 tons of freshwater from a hummocky floe during the night. We pulled alongside, dug in our ice-anchors, and men dug into the side of it with axes so that big chunks fell on deck. This was then condensed with a jet of steam in tanks. Used a lot of coal, but we need drinking water.
It doesn't feel like night when the sun only just dips below the horizon -- stayed up on deck til midnight watching it. Here is what I wrote in my Journal:
"The scene was incomparable. The northern sky was gloriously rosy and reflected in the calm sea between the ice, which varied from burnished copper to salmon pink; bergs and pack to the north had a pale greenish hue with deep purple shadows, the sky shaded to saffron and pale green."
Am in a bit of a quandary as regards a decision I made based on what I thought was the best evidence; that is, to enter the pack ice at 178 degrees west. I studied the records of previous voyages and it seemed right. However, we have encountered worse conditions than any ship has had before. The pack ice that we have to traverse before entering the Ross Sea changes according to prevailing conditions and consists of both new ice and old ice that has cleaved off the continent the previous year. When it warms up slightly, the new ice melts, leaving bergs of hard, old ice. We follow "leads" -- stretches of open water that open up in the ice -- as and when they appear, or just try to crush through smaller areas of pack ice. Either way, we are pretty much stalled, and have to be guided by the sky; clear sky often indicates clear water, so we aim for that. There's some about 20 miles away, but 20 miles is a lot under these conditions.
Wilson has been shooting birds for study. Bowers goes out in the pram to collect them from the water. It is remarkable how the sound of the shot doesn't warn them off, but what do they know of the danger? The men have also been having much fun causing a commotion among Adelie penguins by tossing a potato over deck and watching them scramble to examine it. They are the most adorable creatures. Don't taste so good, though.
Ponting has been much out and about with his cinematograph.
Tonight we have had the livers of four crab-eater seals we saw and shot -- they were delicious.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here's Ponting cinematographing the pack ice in quite a precarious position levered out over the deck!
Today we have been passing quite spectacular tabular icebergs that have broken off from the ice shelf -- they are enormous flat-topped slabs hundreds of yards in length and 60 - 80 feet high with horizontal bands of ice weaving through them. Absolutely spectacular. Ponting is beside himself with joy, saying he's seen nothing like it. The colors are beautiful when the sun pours through the clouds. More whales and plenty of sea birds, snow petrels and Cape pigeon and the like.
We are at about the 66th parallel I should think. I am surprised to meet ice so far north so early and don't know what it forebodes. In any case I am glad for the calm seas as it provides much needed relief for the ponies. The men are all jolly and singing shanties up a storm.Here's another one that should give you some idea of our surroundings. One feels every now and then a sharp bump as the ship's prow hits the ice. If it becomes thick I shall be obliged to put the fires out as we can't waste coal going nowhere.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Did you know we get through half a ton of coal a week just for cooking? We are many mouths and hungry fellows all.
We are not going as fast as I could like, and the headwind we are fighting doesn't help. I am worried about fuel. Had to furl all sail today as we battle out way South.
Am awfully tired today -- up all night unable to sleep thinking about the animals, wondering if they are sentinent beings like people and whether they will remember this dreadful voyage. Animals are awfully sensitive about places where they've been injured and I wouldn't want them giving us a hard time due to traumatic memories. They are soaked and the ship's rolling makes it hard for them to stand 24 hours a day. Not enough room for them to lie down. That's OK; horses sleep standing. I wonder if they dream. I wonder what they dream of.
All our hopes are pinned upon the ponies. I still think dogs useless when it comes to polar work and general survival. They have recovered from their dousing during the gale remarkably well though. They went from death's door to right as rain in a single day.
Have been watching blue whales from the deck. They are the biggest creatures ever to have lived. And I feel quite the smallest.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This afternoon, both the air and sea temperature were 34 degrees, which means the ice isn't far off. We are at Latitude 61, only 5 degrees off the Circle.
Proposed our photographer, Ponting, to lead the Western Geological Party, as he has a lot of experience traveling, but Griffith Taylor was most upset by this. We talked it all out and Ponting was quite happy to relinquish his spot to the satisfaction of all. He's a good chap. He's out and about on deck getting pictures of the skua and albatross.
34 degrees might sound chilly but it's the warmest we'll all be for years.
Everyone is very cheerful despite their gear being soaked with the ponies' effluent, which leaked badly after the gale. Their stalls are directly above the men's mess. Add to this misery, the lack of light and fresh air down there, and the impossibility of getting wet woollens dry. It is remarkable there hasn't been mutiny so soon into our venture. You can't imagine the smell.
At dinner we had reports of our first ice: Evans confirmed a berg far to the west as the sun burst through the clouds. All very excited.
One thinks often of Cook, skirting these waters not knowing what lies beyond, thinking himself the last man who will ever sail here.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
We have been discussing landing at Cape Crozier and are very excited by the thought. It will be advantageous in that we can start straight South without having to cross Barrier crevasses; our other parties shall not be cut off from us; and we can study both the geology of Terror and the Emperor penguin embryology, as they have a large rookery there.
The only problem we might encounter is in landing the stores as there is no good place to berth the ship and unload safely -- and there is quite a climb to suitable ground for our hut.
Wilson very much wants to get among the Emperors, but fears the smell will be too strong for comfort. Cherry says it's likely to be too windy.
We are on course and all is well. There is much singing.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Weather improving -- barometer steady. So much depends on fine weather. December is generally a good month in the Ross Sea, and the animals could really use a break from the endless tossing.
Someone once said that starting off by discussing the weather is showing off. The thing is, I'm English, and that's just how we begin things. It is THE subject at sea. I often sit here composing my thoughts to put down in the Journal and on here, and setting the tone with the weather just feels natural, somehow. Besides, I don't know you, and that's by far the best way to open a conversation with a stranger, when one absolutely has to--at a party, say--because everyone's got an opinion on it.
Wilson has been much embedded in his Bible of late; I think our recent brush with death has brought things close to home for him. He carries it absolutely everywhere with him--it was a gift from his mother as a boy and is practically falling apart. In any case, he does have a go at me for being such a stick about religion, so today I wrote in my Journals that "I pray there may be no more gales," and "I devoutly wish" the swell "would vanish altogether." That should satisfy the critics.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Everyone's pretty near done in with making reparations after the gale--catching sleep, cleaning out living quarters, helping to re-stow coal and petrol, mending lashings, etc. Mostly we're all still wet, since it is not easy to dry clothing and bedding. Everything smells pretty awful.
That photograph of me at the top of the page: I don't really look like that, you know. I did once, but that was years ago. I'm afraid age has caught up with me in less than flattering ways. I'll never understand what Kathleen sees in me since she enjoyed the company of so many other handsome chaps her own age. She wouldn't let me wear a hat in the sunshine for fear of my losing my hair -- "I won't have a bald husband," she said-- but I'm afraid that sunshine or not it's going. It's curious because in so many other ways she cares not a whit for appearances, whereas I care more than I suppose I ought.
I don't know why I'm fretting so -- perhaps it's the anti-climax of having been under such enormous stress the last few days. I would dearly love to sleep, but can't be seen to be slacking off while the men work so hard around me.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Here's Osman, who was washed clear overboard yesterday and then swept back on. He was in a very poor way but has been lying in hay all morning and has much recovered. We have had to nurse several of the dogs back from death's door.
Have just come in from helping to haul the two dead ponies up and out through the forecastle skylight. Quite a messy business as they are dead weight.
Campbell and Bowers have been re-listing everything stowed on deck to see what we've lost. So far, 10 tons of coal, 65 gallons of petrol, and a case of biologist's spirit have gone. Not as bad as I thought. The ship's bulwarks sustained some damage. The icehouse is fine.
The wind has died down and we are back on course, the fires having been re-lit now that the bilges are dry enough. Hard work got the pumps cleared and working again, thank goodness. Evans was quite remarkable wriggling over the coal and down the pump shaft to repair it. Bowers assisted him. It seems to me that Bowers was everywhere at once during our trial--and had a leading hand in every rescue effort. He is absolutely invaluable and I shall recommend him for reward once our expedition's done. I asked him how he was managing this morning when he came up from below, and he told me "even under its worst conditions this earth is a good place to live in."
I do not know where we shall be if another gale comes upon us. Several of the man have confessed to me today that they too believed we were all dead, though no-one showed it yesterday.
Though I will not record this in my Log, I must confess that the storm itself was not the cause for our near demise. The decks are so overloaded that most of the water came through between the planks. If any one of them had broken, I would not be here to write this now.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
You cannot know what this last 24 hours has been like for us, sixty-odd souls tossed about in Nature's fury as if to remind us our lives were worth nothing and she could take us all in an instant at any time she chose. I am still shaken--badly shaken, if you want to know--and am exhausted less with the effects of a lack of sleep than the press of adrenaline and sheer terror that has been my constant companion and which still hugs my shoulders as if it were my new best friend.
Here's Dante's Upper Circles of Hell; Cherry says we are in the second circle reserved for carnal sinners, floundering in these godforsaken seas. I heard Priestly mention Dante too, come to think of it. There are few better-suited analogies for what we have all been though.
The storm hit upon us and at times we estimated the waves to be 35 feet high--almost the highest ever recorded by James Clark Ross, and about the limit of what a vessel can bear. At times she dipped so far we were submerged to our waists in green water. Quietly I may tell you that there were times she listed so far I knew there was no way we could recover and were surely dead. And yet--
I kept it from the men, especially the scientists who are not used to sea life, who needn't have suffered, but I did put it to Bowers at one point, for he above all else could see our situation. "What do you think?" I asked him. He is a plucky soul who said we weren't dead yet, but just then Oates reported another pony dead, and Bowers's optimism felt thin indeed.
God, the animals. You can't imagine. The ponies in their stalls unable to stand, being thrown from side to side. One of them we found hung. The dogs, who are lashed to the decks have barely survived. We've lost some. Osman was washed clear overboard but a wave brought him back.
Lashings have broken, sending cases and sacks of coal flying. Bowers was after the loose petrol stores for the motors, but I told him it didn't matter, which seemed to bother him more than anything else, I can't imagine why. The loose coal and dust has choked the pumps and formed a sludge that has stopped them right up. We are baling in shifts. The men are singing as loudly as they can to take their minds off the work and are to a man naked as the day they were born, being submerged, most of them, to their chests. I wonder if they know they are literally pumping for their lives.
They look like they are in Hell already and wished they'd at least had a chance at misbehaving before they got there. At least we are as wet as we can get--it hides what the body does when it thinks the end is nigh.
One would think the Fates line up against us.
Monday, November 30, 2009
In seas such as this one is fast reminded of what it is like to have a weak stomach -- from all quarters the sounds of evacuation! Ponting is busy developing plates with a tray of chemicals in one hand and a basin in the other. I am told that on the way down to Port Chalmers he was busy on deck with his cinematograph, running back and forth to the side of the ship to heave-ho! Poor Anton, the groom, has it quite badly, but managed to smoke a cigar in between quite spectacular vomiting. Priestley is very badly affected.
If the animals could throw up, I'm sure they would. As it is, they hang on, the dogs leashed on deck in chains to prevent them being washed overboard. How utterly wretched they must be. It pains me they should suffer so.
My stomach OK so far -- though I am more likely to lose my lunch to nerves than waves. We have a horrid gale coming on and I dread losing all we have stowed on deck. Bowers has been rushing back and forth tying and re-tying everything he so carefully stowed. That little man appears to know no fear.
Would that I had his guts.
The seas are a bit rough, as one would expect. My mother would call them "bracing." In truth we are being tossed about quite a bit and because the ship is so heavily laden--it's a miracle she floats at all, really--she's like a stone borne aloft upon these waves. The animals are miserable and the humans charged with their care, Oates and Anton, not much better.
We can only hope for better weather tomorrow.
We are burning through an excess of coal however; 8 tons in the past 24 hours, I'm told.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Good Lord, what day.
Last night we all put on quite a show at the grand dance in extraordinary outfits. There was quite a hullabaloo among the women. It's astonishing the lengths to which they will go to in order not to get along. Kathleen and Hilda Evans got into a shouting match at the hotel that threatened to undo all of our good work with the citizens of Dunedin. I have no idea what got under her skin so. We men stood aside and let them have at it in the hopes it would finally clear the air, but women don't fight like men do, and when it was clear that they were going to do violence to one another, We stepped in and broke them up. Kathleen was so upset she left the ball early.
This morning we enjoyed a rather subdued picnic, then walked together down to the ship. The wives all joined us on board as we finally slipped from the dock at 2:30 amid much cheer and noise, all the boats fully dressed to bid us adieu. A local holiday was declared in our honor. They left us at the Heads before we entered the open sea to return to shore. Kathleen was a rock, taking photographs, and insisting on not saying goodbye. Hilda Evans was white as a sheet and looked like she was going to faint clear away.
The only real sour note in the whole affair was the reporter who wanted to know what I thought of Amundsen's prospects. "No, I don't think I would care to say anything on the subject," I told him. Really, what do they expect me to say?
Well, we're really on our way.
She didn't say goodbye.
What a day! Up at the crack of dawn for the train down to Port Chalmers. Thankfully, Kathleen and I had an entire carriage to ourselves for a bit of privacy, though I fear Wilson may have been a bit put out to be excluded. Taff Evans rode down too, as we came to an agreement as to his continuing on with the expedition. He came to see me hat in hand and very sorry, promising not to let the side down again etc. What could I do? I gave him a good telling off, but in my heart of hearts I was much relieved for I was depending on him for his strength on the sledging journeys. I expected Teddy Evans would take this badly, and he did. But then again, I am the Captain and he is not: it's just that simple.
Have written to Nansen:
"We may have made a mistake in having such an extensive organization but I am most anxious to get really good scientific results and for that one ought to have a number of experts--as to the travelling we might have improved matters by having more dogs and fewer ponies--it is difficult to say--the animals we have are splendid and all in good condition."
That should placate him somewhat as he was very critical of my decision to use the ponies, and insisted on just using dogs. Well, I shall prove him wrong on this count. Oates keeps smiling at me for some reason, and it's got to be something to do with the ponies, because he is not taken to smiling much--but for the life of me I can't figure out what it might be.
As soon as we got off the train we were met with hysterics from the Evanses--Kathleen really has it out for Hilda and she might be right there--apparently there has been much talk of insurrection and the like in my absence, fueled, it seems, by female nerves, and Teddy announced he was ready to chuck it all in. I smoothed him down.
I write this while resting up at the hotel. Tonight we have a dance to attend for which Kathleen is bathing in preparation. I can hear her singing and splashing. Her hair takes such a long time to dry, and she is anxious for it to do so before the event. She does take these things very seriously, and at some level I feel needs to compete with Hilda E., who for all her neuroses and youth is really very pretty.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Lovely evening with Kathleen and the Kinseys. They have been most good to us. I have given Kinsey power of attorney in my absence and he is to be my agent here in Christchurch.
After our walk last night, Kathleen set to massaging my feet, rather lovingly, and insisted I take care of them because they had so very far to walk and she intended to have the first dance with me upon my return. I'm afraid I gave her the impression she was being a bit soft about it all, and of course it did tickle -- but she is right, you can take care of all you want but if you let your feet go, it's over. So I assured her I would and that seemed to placate her for the time being.
I must not forget to bring that lovely little can of curry powder she snuck in for me among my personal things. How it will enliven the hoosh on those dreadful treks I can only imagine. I wish I'd had some last time around.
Have decided simply to ignore Amundsen: we shall keep to our proposed schedule as it is sheer folly to alter one's plans in the face of the "unknown." Besides, Markham doesn't set much stock in the Fram's ability to sail anywhere in a timely fashion, so all this worry might be for naught.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Off she sails! The local boy scout troupe came out to wish us bon voyage, along with half the town!
Kathleen and I returned to shore to spend a last few days by ourselves before going by train to meet the ship at Port Chalmers. Here she is: isn't she lovely? All that hair! I quite prefer her with it down, like this, as opposed to the way she wears it all pulled up, the way all the ladies do. She looks less severe like this.
Taff Evans has given the most distressing trouble, getting drunk and falling into the water while trying to board ship. His behaviour is disgraceful. I refused to let him come on. He does pose a sticky problem for me, since I am so indebted to him from our Discovery days together, and I may have rashly promised him a stab at the Pole, for which I shall no doubt be sorry one day. But what am I to do? One simply can't abide drunkenness and there shall be hell to pay if I let him back on.
Walked over the hills in the evening with Kathleen and saw the lovely Terra Nova off in the distance, just a speck on the horizon.
Well, she's loaded and about ready to go. Best not to look at how low she sits. We carry 430 tons of coal in our holds and another 30 tons in sacks on the upper deck. In the icehouse we have 3 tons of ice, along with 162 carcasses of mutton, three of beef, and boxes of offal. We carry 5 tons of food for the dogs and 45 tons of fodder for the ponies. Oates has rather insisted we bring more, but I wouldn't hear of it.
We will pick up the animals, 19 ponies and 39 dogs, from Quail Island, along with Meares.
I am being called -- tomorrow I shall begin my log in earnest.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The packing is nearly complete - we shall sail in two day's time. We will all go aboard to wave from Lyttleton, then Kathleen and I will disembark and return to finish some business, whereupon we shall go by train to Port Chalmers where Terra Nova will take on her final coal.
I feel confident that all is in hand, and barring any unpleasantness among the women, all will go smoothly.
Can't find that photograph of Evans anywhere. Most odd.
Am still very puzzled by Nansen's reply to my cable asking what he knows of Amundsen's plans: "Unknown." How can that possibly be? Even Keltie in London is unsure. There must be rumors aplenty. There is no news of his having stopped anywhere in these Antipodes, and Keltie can only guess that he left Madeira in October.
Yet more nonsense on the wives front: it seems that they simply cannot abide one another. It does make it rather a chore, as each man must be seen to support his wife in public even as they are fighting like cats behind the scenes. Teddy Evans is in quite a spot. I'm not sure I trust him, entirely. He likes to be in charge, and the crew adore him. I will have to see to it that he is never placed in a position to try for the Pole without me. He just might.
I had a picture of him to show you but I must have misplaced it.
The dogs and wives are getting nippy. Am busier than ever trying to make sure we have everything in order and she won't leave me alone. She gave me lovely photographs to put in my den at the hut. She's having a rather awful time with Hilda Evans -- there is much tension in the air, and Bowers alway seems to go very quiet when K is around. She did a very nice thing, though: she got all the men's initials and sewed them into their clothing.
It is odd, though -- with Kathleen one never doubts the depth of her feeling and commitment, yet there runs underneath at all times a suggestion of her maintaining flirtations with others. It's nothing you can put a finger on. That letter she received from a would-be-suitor on her voyage over ruffled my feathers a bit, but she assured me it was nothing.
Perhaps it is merely the sculptress in her that causes her to look at other men. And she looks.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
One forgets that cities like Christchurch that sit facing the Pole at this latitude grew up on whaling, until one spends time at the docks and sees the old Maori men and catches the stench of the blubber and oil. God but that's a messy business. One of them wanted to show me how he flensed a skin, but I had to make my excuses. They beach themselves on a regular basis. Nobody knows why. The sight of blood leaves me weak, if I'm being really honest. I may have mentioned that already.
I look around at the horses and dogs and it does me no good to know we're going to slaughter them all, every last one.
Our last week. Kathleen is getting clingy.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I have instructed the officers to keep diaries, and to that end, have issued them journals in which to write in ink at the base, and smaller pocket-sized journals for sledging. Wilson, of course, likes to bring drawing books he can paint in. I myself have a very nice ink pot with my name inscribed on the base. I shall begin my journal in earnest once we sail next week.
I wonder if I will approach it any differently this time, given my experience writing up the Discovery voyage from my notes last time around? I expect so. I think this time I shall make the entries closer to how I would like them produced in the book, which shall make my work less arduous upon my return. Smith, Elder, have of course contracted with me for this volume.
Arrangements have also been made with certain people in the Press for exclusive rights to first word of our return, which shall of course be coded to avoid interception and pre-emption of our contract.
Wilson, I expect, will publish a memoir of the journey complete with his charming illustrations, and no doubt some of the scientific staff will publish their work. It's hard to say if we have any other writers among us, however. I suspect not.
It's all rather exciting.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Almost everything we take with us has been embossed with identifying features of some kind. For a start, everything associated with the ship has been marked with the official British Antarctic Expedition (BAE) logo - cutlery, plates, cruet sets, stationary, etc. In addition we are taking with us quite a bit of stuff for our eventual victory at the Pole: miniature silk Union Jacks, for instance, to fly there. Reminds me of knights going out to joust and taking their lady's ribbon with them as a standard. Today we received a rather nice box of Havanah Perfectos Elegantes Sol cigars to celebrate with. I dare say we shall be unable to smoke them at that altitude, but the gesture is nice, and no doubt the Ealam family who presented them will be made happy with a photograph of us posing with them.
I prefer a pipe, myself.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The season advances, and we all are getting restless to leave. Re-stowing the ship is going well: Bowers has done a splendid job.
That ship cost us 12,500 pounds, a large chunk of our total monies. We have made a great deal of adjustment to her to accommodate our needs: pony stalls having been built and an icehouse erected on deck.
How ironic that all the while we shall be aboard her, and thus on "new earth," we shall in fact be on water. We will be taking soundings to see how far the sea floor is below us, and of course to indicate when we reach the continental shelf.
What a sight she looks in the harbour. She sits right now, but the more that's put on board, the lower she sinks. It's a bit worrying, to be perfectly honest, but i shan't tell anyone, and neither should you.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Have been considering personnel today and making sure all information has been collected for record and that every man has had the required medical check-ups.
It is of utmost importance that we know, for example, who is to receive pay; some men want it sent directly to their wife or mother (for they have no need of money on the expedition). We also need to know what a man's will is -- whom to send his personal belongings in the event of his death. Accordingly, we need an address to send his letters.
Because good health is paramount -- especially dental health -- sailors are required to have a full examination and any teeth that require attention must be stopped and any that can't be stopped must be pulled. Some of the men have very few teeth left. The ratings generally require more attention than officers, as one would expect.
Lastly, for my own records, I need to know which men have had the honor of having handled sail around Cape Horn, for they are allowed to place one foot on the table after dinner, as per tradition.
On our return journey there will hardly be room for drinks, because every man shall be qualified to put both his feet up on the table, having crossed the Antarctic Circle. It is a great honor so few can claim.
Monday, November 16, 2009
"Most people would succeed in small things in they were not troubled by great ambitions." - Longfellow.
Have any truer words yet been spoken?
If it's not one thing, it's another with the ship. We are spending far too much time on fixing small leaks when what we really want is to get underway.
Painted over Plimsoll line so that we may sail unburdened by such things as how heavily loaded we are. We have 60 men for three years; all of what we will need to survive including food, scientific equipment, three motor sledges, animals, fodder, fuel, an entire hut and all that will go in it. It was a stroke of genius to register the ship as a yacht so as to avoid the merchant vessel regulations the Terra Nova, as a whaler, was subject to.
We are not a yacht. We are a thousand leagues from being a yacht, but there you have it. Ambition, my friends, can get around almost any problem that presents itself.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
As to clothing, I have calculated an allowance for 14lbs spare clothing per man for our Southern Journey. This includes personal items such as tobacco, note-books and reading material.
Of course what each man decides to bring is up to him, but I strongly advise against anything that adds even an ounce extra, as we shall be carrying everything we need to survive.
It will also be necessary to depot some personal supplies at various intervals as we get closer to the Pole. It doesn't seem a great deal, but after 700 miles, you feel everything you carry, and then you have 700 more miles to go. Everything also collects ice, which adds additional weight.
We shall weigh supplies before our preparatory journeys before setting out and then upon return to see just how much of an increase there is.
I shall have additional clothing in the form of my dress uniforms, naturally.
This time around we are all taking single man sleeping bags, as this shall prove more useful in planning than the three man bags we used on Discovery. Each bag is made of the winter coat of the reindeer, whose fur grows thick and close, making them less prone to losing their hair in clumps when wet.
There is nothing more miserable when, after a long day's hard march, you finally retire in the tent and have to fight your way into your bag because it has frozen solid. The trouble with them is that they collect rime - the sweat and breath that comes off one's body at all times, which freezes and sticks to every surface. We should expect that the sleeping bags will have to be dried out at every opportunity.
I'm glad for this fine summer weather we're having in Christchurch.
And Kathleen's warm body next to mine.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wondering how the dogs will fare with the bitch we're bringing to breed, now that I've seen some of them won't serve us in that area. Damn shame.
It does remind me that some of our party have no family or children to occupy their thoughts. We shall be away a long time, and some of them have already been away from their families for a long time. Some of the men are quite young, and are likely virgins. Some are not used to the sailor's life.
We always wait to see how many children await us at the docks when we return with a little excitement, a little dread. We count the months and years. We know how it goes.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I have noticed that some of our dogs are not whole. It will be useful to note whether these dogs are as sociable and as hard working at the others. Some are also docked. I am not pleased about this; dogs in the Antarctic need their tails to keep warm.
And the whole ones need their tails to keep their parts from frostbite.
Doesn't bear thinking about, really.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Am excited about the telephone we're taking with us. We hope to run a cable over the ice from the Discovery Hut to out base so that we can report on ice conditions and weather when parties are separated. It will be the first long distance communications system on the continent.
The technology is useful, but I can't see it catching on. I much prefer to write notes and letters, as most people do. How odd it is when you're speaking to someone you can't see! There is so much room for error with a telephone, for misinterpretation.
Motor sledges and telephones and cinematographs! We really are bringing the 20th century to the most remote spot on earth!
Hoping they've found a way to fix that leak in the Terra Nova.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Just a foul mood. Don't know why. Am going to try to stay out of people's way.
Have been looking over Bowers's Stores List and seeing that among the two tons of jam we're taking, not a single jar of honey. Yes, I said two tons.
Golden Syrup ... 1,000 lbs
Marmalade ... 700 lbs
Red Currant Jelly ... 300lbs
Strawberry Jam ... 600 lbs
Raspberry Jam ... 400 lbs
Black Current Jam ... 300 lbs
Blackberry and Apple Jam ... 600 lbs
Apricot Jam ... 400 lbs.
It's not his fault, of course, but do we really need half a ton of Golden Syrup? Is Lyle sponsoring this?
I suppose they are. We'll have to take photographs of us eating it. I bet it lasts forever though.
Out of the strong came forth sweetness.
I am trying.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Maintaining peak physical fitness is obviously of first importance in an venture like ours. There will be long months of total darkness and extreme cold; that can't be an excuse not to exercise like men. I expect everyone to do their part to remain healthy enough for the manhauling season.
I have no doubt that I shall be able to set a god example for the men, but I do worry about some of the lesser types.
Staying physically fit is only half the story, however. Diet and nutrition is just as important. It is to that end that I have maintained all along that we should feel as if we are eating exactly the same way we would at home. On the ice we will be on sledging rations, certainly, but in the hut we shall forget we are anywhere exceptional.
We shall still live like men.
Plug Tobacco ... 200lbs
Capstan ... 200lbs
Waverley Mixture ... 200lbs
Maspero Freres Cigarettes ... 10,000
Three Castles ... 5,000
Oh, and that should read "good," above.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Asked Bowers to remind me how much liquor we're taking, in case we need more. He tells me:
Wincarnis ... 10 doz. bottles
Courvoisiers Brandy, YYO ... 10 cases
Wynard Fockink's Orange Curacao ... 2 cases
Orange Fine Champagne ... 1 case
Creme de menthe ... 2 cases
Old Portugal ... 6 dozen
Sherry ... 4 dozen
Chas Heidsieck ... 6 cases of pints
Whiskey 6 ... cases
Is it enough, though? We have at least two Christmases, Midwinter and Midsummer days, birthdays, special celebrations.
I asked Bowers to keep an eagle eye on it all. Can't have any of it going "missing" before we sail. That young Gran has his eye on that Heidsieck, I've seen him.
Oh, and 1,000 pints of lime juice.
Got to keep the dread scurvy at bay.
I could use a drink now, come to think of it.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
While we've been inspecting the animals at Quail Island, Bowers has been busy unloading all the stores and dividing them into green and red marked boxes; some for us, and some for the Northern Party. We are picking up a large supply of fresh provision here in New Zealand; butter, eggs, mutton and so forth.
I'll never forget departing on Discovery with an entire flock of sheep on board decks. As soon as we got to the Antarctic Circle we slaughtered the lot and hung the carcasses up in the rigging. What a mess. We won't be doing that this time. I invested rather a large sum in the building of an icehouse aboard ship in which to store our perishables so that we can sail with already frozen meats.
I miss eggs the most. We have this stuff called "Truegg" which is a dried powder that can be used as a substitute, but it does get wearisome after a while. We have 500lbs of it.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Aren't the dogs grand!
They're all males, of course, except for one bitch, Lassie, who we'll have along for breeding. One should be enough.
It's not like we'll need to use too many dogs, of course. Not very good in the snow, dogs. It doesn't make any sense to me, to use a dog to pull a sledge. And besides, one has to be so cruel to them, and I can't abide cruelty to animals.
Naturally, we shan't be eating them, as was suggested.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Boy wheeling a barrow asking a penny for the Guy from all the dock workers today. Some of them chipped in. One smart lad said "I'll give you tuppence if you call him Roald," which made Gran angry and the boy bemused. Still, they agreed and the tuppence was duly given. I think we'll go along to the bonfire tonight and see him go up in flames.
In any case, I have decided to write to Nansen and see what he has to say about Amundsen's whereabouts. He must know. Someone must know something, and I feel uneasy setting off without feeling sure about it.
I don't wish Amundsen success, but I also don't wish him to meet as gory an end as his namesake this evening. It all smacks of treason and plot.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
How grand it is to see the ponies we shall have! Popped over to Quail Island today, which lies in Lyttleton Harbour, thus serving as an excellent quarantine post for our animals. Took Kathleen along too.
Oates gave them a workout for us, parading them up and down. I thought Meares and Bruce have done a remarkable job of securing us these fine beasts, not to mention transporting them all the way from Siberia on several ships, but Oates, who is to be in charge of them, doesn't seem to sure. I put that down to his general recalcitrance, but the look on his face when I gave them my stamp of approval!
They seemed quite high spirited to me, and pulled trial loads well enough on the beach, as you can see. That's me in my uniform, next to Kathleen. It was a fine day with a bit of a brisk wind. Nothing like what they will have to face down South, certainly. But the important thing is that they are all white. The lighter the better, I told Meares, and when I greeted him he told he got me just exactly what I'd asked for, no more, no less.
If only Oates could be so, well, willing to see things my way.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The carpenters are doing a mock erection of the hut, marking all the wood, then re-packing it so that they can build quickly once we arrive. It's going to be a veritable palace. Not a big palace, and without toilet facilities, but we shall all be comfortable enough. I have decided that we shall preserve shipboard custom and divide the hut into two domains; the officers quarters and separate accommodations for the sailors and men. They shall eat at their own table, too. Everyone will be more comfortable that way. You can't have the classes mixing willy-nilly and getting beyond their station all cooped up like that for so long.
I shall have my own sleeping quarters, naturally.
It will be good to be able to lock myself away as necessary.
Kathleen delights in all the activity at the docks, and enlivens the men as they work.
Monday, November 2, 2009
All Saint's Day and for some reason I feel like everything I look at today, I am looking at for the last time. Kathleen caught me looking at her this morning and said stop it, you're scaring me. But it feels like I'm looking at everything as a visitor or a guest.
Sometimes I do get scared of what might happen, of catastrophic injury, of hurt. But there's nothing to be done for it, except to move forward.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
November at last! We must sail this month if we are to get in a depot-laying journey before the winter sets in.
How good it is to be with the men again. Bowers is an absolute brick; a whirl of energy and I feel entirely confident trusting him with our stores and provisions. He is unloading them all according to two groups -- red boxes and green -- for our party and the Northern party. What a clever idea! We have with us very generous supplies provided by certain companies who see fit to have us photograph ourselves using said items, so that they may benefit from the advertising afterwards. Hence Heinz and Colmans stamped on so many of our boxes.
It is quite sobering to see it all laid out on the dock like that, however; knowing this is everything you will have to survive on for two or three years (apart from what seal and penguin we shall kill).
He keeps meticulous log books of it all, too, numbered by crate and contents, which is another very good idea. Would hate to lose track of what we have where.
Let me tell you, it's no fun to open an unmarked tin to find it contains not at all what you hoped was inside it.
It's a challenge for the cook, too.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The witching hour.
You have to have good nerves to be in the Antarctic, knowing there is a whole vast continent out there with only a few souls on it. Especially in winter when it's dark 24 hours a day. You get used to taking your exercise in the pitch black. You think you see ghosts, but it's only your mind playing tricks on you.
It's so odd for it to be nearly the end of Spring.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Finally with the Terra Nova. We have a good hard slog ahead of us getting her ship-shape. Everything must be unloaded and re-stowed with the fresh provisions we're picking up here, along with the animals and their feed. First, though, repairs: we can't have any leaks. She's going to be up in dry dock do we can take a good look at her.
Kathleen not too impressed with New Zealand, thinks it very provincial. Everything not quite good enough. Hope she settles in soon of the month we have here will drag.
That's her calling me for lunch now.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Hooray! We've word that our last 2,500 pounds was raised by a generous fellow in Australia.
This is surely the most expensive expedition ever undertaken, despite our cost-cutting. I doubt there will ever be such an amount spent to get to so distant a place by men ever again!
The moon looks lovely tonight.
Everything appears backwards down here, when you look up.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Well, what a fine welcome we've had! No sooner do we disembark, than I am practically accosted by reporters wanting to know what I think of Amundsen's plans to beat me to the Pole! I'm afraid the little man wouldn't let it go, so I replied that should Mr. Amundsen want to try for the Pole from some part of the coast of West Antarctica, I bid him good luck.
It seems that everyone and their mother knows more about what's going on here than I do. It is most trying. Are we going to sail into Cape Crozier only to find the Fram already moored there? Or will he be using our old Discovery hut? How impudent! It's truly shocking.
Markham must know from the Press back home what is up. He must be absolutely livid! We are staying with his sister, Lady Bowen, and her husband. Sir Charles, before going on to Lyttleton. They are very nice, of course, and won't brook any talk about our being forestalled at any cost.
Kathleen's just happy to be back on dry land, bless her.
It's all rather exhausting and gives me the most dreadful indigestion.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Our last day alone. We arrive Wellington tomorrow, then it's a short trip down to Lyttleton to join the ship. This respite has been nice, but I am anxious to get on.
Was going to say I have to remember to get a proper haircut before we set sail, owing to the length of time since I see a real barber again, but my charming wife reminds me that not much remains to be cut.
Always after the details, that woman.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The missus is disappointed not to have seen any penguins. I told her they mate for life, she liked that. I told her the Emperor males stand with the egg on their feet for the duration of the winter while the females go off hunting at sea. She liked that, too. How they find their spouse and egg when they return is beyond me. But they do.
We are hoping to procure some Emperor eggs so that we can study them at the embryonic stage. They say these primitive birds are the direct descendants of the dinosaurs, which we hope to prove. We took that photograph at Cape Crozier, where we hope to make our camp.
They do taste awful, though.
She didn't like that.