FOR THE DISCOVERY OF A NORTHWEST PASSAGE.
Notwithstanding the want of success of the late expedition to the Polar Seas, it was resolved to make another attempt to effect a passage by sea, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The chief alterations in the equipment of the present expedition consisted in the placing of Sylvester’s warming stove in the very bottom of the ship’s hold, in substituting a small quantity of salt beef for a part of the pork, and in furnishing a much larger supply of newly corned beef. Preserved carrots and parsnips, salmon, cream, pickles of onions, beet-root, cabbage, and, to make the most of our stowage, split peas, instead of whole ones, were supplied. A small quantity of beef pemmican, made by pounding the meat with a certain portion of fat, as described by Captain Franklin, was also furnished.
Passage to the Whale-fish Islands, and Removal of Stores from the Transport.—Enter the Ice in Baffin’s Bay.—Difficulties of Penetrating to the Westward.—Quit the Ice in Baffin’s Bay.—Remarks on the Obstructions encountered by the Ships, and on the Severity of the Season.
The equipment of the Hecla and Fury, and the loading of the William Harris transport, being completed, we began to move down the river from Deptford on the 8th of May, 1824, and on the 10th, by the assistance of the steamboat, the three ships had reached Northfleet, where they received their powder and their ordnance stores.
Early on the morning of the 3d of July, the whole of our stores being removed, and Lieutenant Pritchard having received his orders, together with our despatches and letters for England, the William Harris weighed with a light wind from the northward, and was towed out to sea by our boats.
Light northerly winds, together with the dull sailing of our now deeply-laden ships, prevented our making much progress for several days, and kept us in the neighbourhood of numerous icebergs, which it is dangerous to approach when there is any swell. We counted from the deck, at one time, no less than one hundred and three of these immense bodies, some of them from one to two hundred feet in height above the sea; and it was necessary, in one or two instances, to tow the ships clear of them with the boats.
From this time, indeed, the obstructions from the quantity, magnitude, and closeness of the ice were such as to keep our people almost constantly employed in heaving, warping, or sawing through it; and yet with so little success, that, at the close of the month of July, we had only penetrated seventy miles to the westward, or the longitude of about 62 deg. 10’.
Sept. 9th.—I shall, doubtless, be readily excused for not having entered in this journal a detailed narrative of the obstacles we met with, and of the unwearied exertions of the officers and men to overcome them, during the tedious eight weeks employed in crossing this barrier.