At half past eight we arrived on board, where I was happy to find that all our parties had returned without accident, except that Lieutenant Palmer had been wounded in his hand and temporarily blinded by a gun accidentally going off, from which, however, he fortunately suffered no eventual injury.
The result of our late endeavours, necessarily cramped as they had been, was to confirm, in the most satisfactory manner, the conviction that we were now in the only passage leading to the westward that existed in this neighbourhood. Notwithstanding, therefore, the present unpromising appearance of the ice, I had no alternative left me but patiently to await its disruption, and instantly to avail myself of any alteration that nature might yet effect in our favour.
A Journey performed along the South Shore of Cockburn Island.—Confirmation of an Outlet to the Polar Sea.—Partial Disruption of the Old Ice, and formation of New.—Return through the Narrows to the Eastward.—Proceed to examine the Coast to the Northeastward.—Fury’s Anchor broken.—Stand over to Igloolik to look for Winter-quarters.—Excursion to the Head of Quilliam Creek.—Ships forced to the Westward by Gales of Wind—A Canal sawed through the Ice, and the Ships secured in their Winter Station.—Continued Visits of the Esquimaux, and Arrival of some of the Winter Island Tribe.—Proposed Plan of Operations in the ensuing Spring.
A light air springing up from the eastward on the morning of the 8th, we took advantage of it to run up the margin of the fixed ice, which was now, perhaps, half a mile farther to the westward, in consequence of small pieces being occasionally detached from it, than it had been when we tacked off it ten days before.
The pools on the floes were now so hardly frozen, that skating and sliding were going on upon them the whole day, though but a week before it had been dangerous to venture upon them.
This latter circumstance, together with the fineness of the weather, and the tempting appearance of the shore of Cockburn Island, which seemed better calculated for travelling than any that we had seen, combined to induce me to despatch another party to the westward, with the hope of increasing, by the only means within our reach, our knowledge of the lands and sea in that direction. Lieutenant Reid and Mr. Bushnan were once more selected for that service, to be accompanied by eight men, a large number being preferred, because by this means only is it practicable to accomplish a tolerably long journey, especially on account of the additional weight of warm clothing which the present advanced state of the season rendered indispensable. Lieutenant Reid was furnished with six days’ provisions, and directed to land where most practicable on the northern shore, and thence to pursue his journey to the westward as far as his resources would admit, gaining all possible information that might be useful or interesting.