Voyages in Search of The North-West Passage, by Richard Hakluyt

The First Voyage of Master Martin Frobisher To the North–West for the search of the passage or strait to China, written by Christopher Hall, and made in the year of our Lord 1576.

Upon Monday, the thirteenth of May, the barque Gabriel was launched at Redriffe, and upon the twenty-seventh day following she sailed from Redriffe to Ratcliffe.

The seventh of June being Thursday, the two barques, viz., the Gabriel and the Michael, and our pinnace, set sail at Ratcliffe, and bare down to Deptford, and there we anchored. The cause was, that our pinnace burst her bowsprit and foremast aboard of a ship that rowed at Deptford, else we meant to have passed that day by the court, then at Greenwich.

The eighth day being Friday, about twelve o’clock, we weighed at Deptford and set sail all three of us and bare down by the court, where we shot off our ordinance, and made the best show we could; her Majesty beholding the same commended it, and bade us farewell with shaking her hand at us out of the window. Afterwards she sent a gentleman aboard of us, who declared that her Majesty had good liking of our doings, and thanked us for it, and also willed our captain to come the next day to the court to take his leave of her.

The same day, towards night, Master Secretary Woolley came aboard of us, and declared to the company that her Majesty had appointed him to give them charge to be obedient, and diligent to their captain and governors in all things, and wished us happy success.

The ninth day about noon, the wind being westerly, having our anchors aboard ready to set sail to depart, we wanted some of our company, and therefore stayed and moored them again.

Sunday, the tenth of June, we set sail from Blackwall at a south-west and by west sun, the wind being at north-north-west, and sailed to Gravesend, and anchored there at a west-north-west sun, the wind being as before.

The twelfth day, being over against Gravesend, by the Castle or Blockhouse, we observed the latitude, which was 51 degrees 33 minutes, and in that place the variation of the compass is 11 degrees and a half. This day we departed from Gravesend at a west-south-west sun, the wind at north and by east a fair gale, and sailed to the west part of Tilbury Hope, and so turned down the Hope, and at a west sun the wind came to the east-south-east, and we anchored in seven fathoms, being low water.

[Here there follows an abstract of the ship’s log, showing the navigation until the 28th of July, when they had sight of land supposed to be Labrador.]

July 28th. From 4 to 8, 4 leagues: from 8. to 12, 3 leagues: from 12 to 4, north and by west, 6 leagues, but very foggy; from thence to 8 of the clock in the morning little wind, but at the clearing up of the fog we had sight of land, which I supposed to be Labrador, with great store of ice about the land; I ran in towards it, and sounded, but could get no land at 100 fathoms, and the ice being so thick I could not get to the shore, and so lay off and came clear of the ice. Upon Monday we came within a mile of the shore, and sought a harbour; all the sound was full of ice, and our boat rowing ashore could get no ground at 100 fathom, within a cable’s length of the shore; then we sailed east-north-east along the shore, for so the land lieth, and the current is there great, setting north-east and south-west; and if we could have gotten anchor ground we would have seen with what force it had run, but I judge a ship may drive a league and a half in one hour with that tide.

This day, at four of the clock in the morning, being fair and clear, we had sight of a headland as we judged bearing from us north and by east, and we sailed north-east and by north to that land, and when we came thither we could not get to the land for ice, for the ice stretched along the coast, so that we could not come to the land by 5 leagues.

Wednesday, the first of August, it calmed, and in the afternoon I caused my boat to be hoisted out, being hard by a great island of ice, and I and four men rowed to that ice, and sounded within two cables’ length of it, and had 16 fathoms and little stones, and after that sounded again within a minion’s shot, and had ground at 100 fathoms, and fair sand. We sounded the next day a quarter of a mile from it, and had 60 fathoms rough ground, and at that present being aboard, that great island of ice fell one part from another, making a noise as if a great cliff had fallen into the sea. And at 4 of the clock I sounded again, and had 90 fathoms, and small black stones, and little white stones like pearls. The tide here did set to the shore.

We sailed this day south-south-east ofward, and laid it a tric.

The next day was calm and thick, with a great sea.

The next day we sailed south and by east two leagues, and at 8 of the clock in the forenoon we cast about to the eastward.

The sixth day it cleared, and we ran north-west into the shore to get a harbour, and being towards night, we notwithstanding kept at sea.

The seventh day we plied room with the shore, but being near it it waxed thick, and we bare off again.

The eighth day we bended in towards the shore again.

The ninth day we sounded, but could get no ground at 130 fathoms. The weather was calm.

The tenth I took four men and myself, and rode to shore, to an island one league from the main, and there the flood setteth south-west along the shore, and it floweth as near as I could judge so too. I could not tarry to prove it, because the ship was a great way from me, and I feared a fog; but when I came ashore it was low water. I went to the top of the islands and before I came back it was hied a foot water, and so without tarrying I came aboard.

The eleventh we found our latitude to be 63 degrees and 8 minutes, and this day entered the strait.

The twelfth we set sail towards an island called the Gabriel’s Island, which was 10 leagues then from us.

We espied a sound, and bare with it, and came to a sandy bay, where we came to an anchor, the land bearing east-south-east of us, and there we rode all night in 8 fathom water. It floweth there at a south-east moon; we called it Prior’s Sound, being from the Gabriel’s Island 10 leagues.

The fourteenth we weighed and ran into another sound, where we anchored in 8 fathoms water, fair sand, and black ooze, and there caulked our ship, being weak from the gunwales upward, and took in fresh water.

The fifteenth day we weighed, and sailed to Prior’s Bay, being a mile from thence.

The sixteenth day was calm, and we rode still without ice, but presently within two hours it was frozen round about the ship, a quarter of an inch thick, and that bay very fair and calm.

The seventeenth day we weighed, and came to Thomas William’s Island.

The eighteenth day we sailed north-north-west and anchored again in 23 fathoms, and caught ooze under Bircher’s Island, which is from the former island 10 leagues.

The nineteenth day in the morning, being calm, and no wind, the captain and I took our boat, with eight men in her, to row us ashore, to see if there were there any people, or no, and going to the top of the island, we had sight of seven boats, which came rowing from the east side toward that island; whereupon we returned aboard again. At length we sent our boat, with five men in her, to see whither they rowed, and so with a white cloth brought one of their boats with their men along the shore, rowing after our boat, till such time as they saw our ship, and then they rowed ashore. Then I went on shore myself, and gave every of them a threaden point, and brought one of them aboard of me, where he did eat and drink, and then carried him on shore again. Whereupon all the rest came aboard with their boats, being nineteen persons, and they spake, but we understood them not. They be like to Tartars, with long black hair, broad faces, and flat noses, and tawny in colour, wearing seal skins, and so do the women, not differing in the fashion, but the women are marked in the face with blue streaks down the cheeks and round about the eyes. Their boats are made all of seal skins, with a keel of wood within the skin: the proportion of them is like a Spanish shallop, save only they be flat in the bottom and sharp at both ends.

The twentieth day we weighed, and went to the east side of this island, and I and the captain, with four men more, went on shore, and there we saw their houses, and the people espying us, came rowing towards our boat, whereupon we plied to our boat; and we being in our boat and they ashore, they called to us, and we rowed to them, and one of their company came into our boat, and we carried him aboard, and gave him a bell and a knife; so the captain and I willed five of our men to set him ashore at a rock, and not among the company which they came from, but their wilfulness was such that they would go to them, and so were taken themselves and our boat lost.

The next day in the morning we stood in near the shore and shot off a fauconet, and sounded our trumpet, but we could hear nothing of our men. This sound we called the Five Men’s Sound, and plied out of it, but anchored again in 30 fathoms and ooze; and riding there all night, in the morning the snow lay a foot thick upon our hatches.

The two-and-twentieth day in the morning we weighed, and went again to the place where we lost our men and our boat. We had sight of fourteen boats, and some came near to us, but we could learn nothing of our men. Among the rest, we enticed one in a boat to our ship’s side with a bell; and in giving him the bell we took him and his boat, and so kept him, and so rowed down to Thomas William’s island, and there anchored all night.

The twenty-sixth day we weighed to come homeward, and by twelve of the clock at noon we were thwart of Trumpet’s Island.

The next day we came thwart of Gabriel’s Island, and at eight of the clock at night we had the Cape Labrador west from us ten leagues.

The twenty-eighth day we went our course south-east.

We sailed south-east and by east, twenty-two leagues.

The first day of September, in the morning, we had sight of the land of Friesland, being eight leagues from us, but we could not come nearer it for the monstrous ice that lay about it. From this day till the sixth of this month we ran along Iceland, and had the south part of it at eight of the clock east from us ten leagues.

The seventh day of this month we had a very terrible storm, by force whereof one of our men was blown into the sea out of our waste, but he caught hold of the foresail sheet, and there held till the captain plucked him again into the ship.

The twenty-fifth day of this month we had sight of the island of Orkney, which was then east from us.

The first day of October we had sight of the Sheld, and so sailed along the coast, and anchored at Yarmouth, and the next day we came into Harwich.

The Language of the People of Meta Incognita.

Argotteyt, a hand. Attegay, a coat.
Cangnawe, a nose. Polleuetagay, a knife.
Arered, an eye. Accaskay, a ship.
Keiotot, a tooth. Coblone, a thumb.
Mutchatet, the head. Teckkere, the foremost finger.
Chewat, an ear. Ketteckle, the middle finger.
Comagaye, a leg. Mekellacane, the fourth finger.
Atoniagay, a foot.
Callagay, a pair of breeches. Yachethronc, the little finger.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38