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.