Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 346 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

Both officers and men were constantly employed, one time in getting out the boats to tow or cut through the ice, at another, at what is termed ‘sallying,’ or causing the ship to roll, by the men running in a body from side to side, so as to relieve her from the adhesion and friction of the young ice.  It sometimes happened, also, that their labour was in vain; for during the night a westerly wind would spring up, and that, combined with a strong current, would drive the vessels several leagues to eastward, thus compelling them to recommence their work over again.

On the 27th of September they found themselves in a tolerably open sea, and assisted by a fine working breeze they reached Port Bowen, in Regent’s Inlet.  Here Captain Parry determined to make his winter harbour, being convinced that it would be safer to remain there, than run the risk of any further attempt at navigation during the present year.

‘To those who read,’ writes Sir Edward Parry, ’as well as those who describe, the account of a winter passed in these regions can no longer be expected to afford the interest of novelty it once possessed; more especially in a station already delineated with tolerable geographical precision on our maps, and thus, as it were, brought near to our firesides at home.’

Here it may be perhaps asked, why tell a thrice-told tale?—­why go over ground that has been so often trod before?  The answer is, we are not only writing for the information of the general reader, but also for the seaman, in the hope that these examples may afford encouragement to him, if ever thrown under similar circumstances to those which befel the crews of the Hecla and Fury.

In a short time, the ships became embedded in ice, and in this remote part of the globe were they destined to remain, in all probability, for nine months, during the greater part of which they would not see the light of the sun.

To the seaman, whose happiness is dependent upon a life of excitement and adventure, such a change must be almost insupportable.  As far as the eye could reach, nothing was to be seen but trackless wilds of snow; an awful stillness reigned around; even the indigenous animals had for a time fled; and out of his ship, which is the world to him, not a living creature breathed in this dreary desert.  In order to procure occupation and amusement for the men, it was necessary to hit upon some expedient to keep their spirits from flagging.  This was found, by a proposal from Captain Hoppner, that they should attempt a masquerade, in which both officers and men should join.  The happy thought was at once seized upon, the ship’s tailor was placed in requisition, admirably dressed characters were enacted, and mirth and merriment rang through the decks of the Hecla.  These reunions took place once a month, alternately on board each ship, and not one instance is related of anything occurring which could interfere with the regular discipline of the

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Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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