South

Read South for Free Online

Book: Read South for Free Online
Authors: Ernest Shackleton
shouting. We were pushing through this loose pack all day, and the view from the crow’s nest gave no promise of improved conditions ahead. A Weddell seal and a crab-eater seal were noticed on the floes, but we did not pause to secure fresh meat. It was important that we should make progress towards our goal as rapidly as possible, and there was reason to fear that we should have plenty of time to spare later on if the ice conditions continued to increase in severity.
    On the morning of December 12 we were working through loose pack which later became thick in places. The sky was overcast and light snow was falling. I had all square sail set at 7 A.M. in order to take advantage of the northerly breeze, but it had to come in again five hours later when the wind hauled round to the west. The noon position was lat. 60° 26’ S., long. 17° 58’ W., and the run for the twenty-four hours had been only 33 miles. The ice was still badly congested, and we were pushing through narrow leads and occasional openings with the floes often close abeam on either side. Antarctic, snow and stormy petrels, fulmars, white-rumped terns, and adelies were around us. The quaint little penguins found the ship a cause of much apparent excitement and provided a lot of amusement aboard. One of the standing jokes was that all the adelies on the floe seemed to know Clark, and when he was at the wheel rushed along as fast as their legs could carry them, yelling out “Clark! Clark!” and apparently very indignant and perturbed that he never waited for them or even answered them.
    We found several good leads to the south in the evening, and continued to work southward throughout the night and the following day. The pack extended in all directions as far as the eye could reach. The noon observation showed the run for the twenty-four hours to be 54 miles, a satisfactory result under the conditions. Wild shot a young Ross seal on the floe, and we maneuvered the ship alongside. Hudson jumped down, bent a line on to the seal, and the pair of them were hauled up. The seal was 4 ft. 9 in. long and weighed about ninety pounds. He was a young male and proved very good eating, but when dressed and minus the blubber made little more than a square meal for our twenty-eight men, with a few scraps for our breakfast and tea. The stomach contained only amphipods about an inch long, allied to those found in the whales at Grytviken.
    The conditions became harder on December 14. There was a misty haze, and occasional falls of snow. A few bergs were in sight. The pack was denser than it had been on the previous days. Older ice was intermingled with the young ice, and our progress became slower. The propeller received several blows in the early morning, but no damage was done. A platform was rigged under the jib boom in order that Hurley might secure some motion pictures of the ship breaking through the ice. The young ice did not present difficulties to the Endurance, which was able to smash a way through, but the lumps of older ice were more formidable obstacles, and conning the ship was a task requiring close attention. The most careful navigation could not prevent an occasional bump against ice too thick to be broken or pushed aside. The southerly breeze strengthened to a moderate southwesterly gale during the afternoon, and at 8 P.M. we hove to, stern against a floe, it being impossible to proceed without serious risk of damage to rudder or propeller. I was interested to notice that, although we had been steaming through the pack for three days, the northwesterly swell still held with us. It added to the difficulties of navigation in the lanes, since the ice was constantly in movement.
    The Endurance remained against the floe for the next twenty-four hours, when the gale moderated. The pack extended to the horizon in all directions and was broken by innumerable narrow lanes. Many bergs were in sight, and they appeared to be traveling through the pack in a southwesterly

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