After the Fram had undergone extensive repairs in Horten Dockyard, and had loaded provisions and equipment in Christiania, we left the latter port on June 7, 1910. According to the plan we were first to make an oceanographical cruise of about two months in the North Atlantic, and then to return to Norway, where the Fram was to be docked and the remaining outfit and dogs taken on board.
This oceanographical cruise was in many respects successful. In the first place, we gained familiarity with the vessel, and got everything shipshape for the long voyage to come; but the best of all was, that we acquired valuable experience of our auxiliary engine. This is a 180 h.p. Diesel motor, constructed for solar oil, of which we were taking about 90,000 litres (about 19,800 gallons). In this connection it may be mentioned that we consumed about 500 litres (about 110 gallons) a day, and that the Fram’s radius of action was thus about six months. For the first day or two the engine went well enough, but after that it went slower and slower, and finally stopped of its own accord. After this it was known as the “Whooping Cough.” This happened several times in the course of the trip; the piston-rods had constantly to be taken out and cleared of a thick black deposit. As possibly our whole South Polar Expedition would depend on the motor doing its work properly, the result of this was that the projected cruise was cut short, and after a lapse of three weeks our course was set for Bergen, where we changed the oil for refined paraffin, and at the same time had the motor thoroughly overhauled.
Since then there has never been anything wrong with the engine.
From Bergen we went to Christiansand, where the Fram was docked, and, as already mentioned, the remaining outfit, with the dogs and dog-food, was taken on board.
The number of living creatures on board when we left Norway was nineteen men, ninety-seven dogs, four pigs, six carrier pigeons, and one canary.
At last we were ready to leave Christiansand on Thursday, August 9, 1910, and at nine o’clock that evening the anchor was got up and the motor started. After the busy time we had had, no doubt we were all glad to get off. As our departure had not been made public, only the pilot and a few acquaintances accompanied us a little way out. It was glorious weather, and everyone stayed on deck till far into the light night, watching the land slowly disappear. All the ninety-seven dogs were chained round the deck, on which we also had coal, oil, timber and other things, so that there was not much room to move about.
The rest of the vessel was absolutely full. To take an example, in the fore-saloon we had placed forty-three sledging cases, which were filled with books, Christmas presents, underclothing, and the like. In addition to these, one hundred complete sets of dog-harness, all our ski, ski-poles, snow-shoes, etc. Smaller articles were stowed in the cabins, and every man had something. When I complained, as happened pretty often, that I could not imagine where this or that was to be put, the Chief of the expedition used generally to say: “Oh, that’s all right; you can just put it in your cabin!”
Thus it was with every imaginable thing — from barrels of paraffin and new-born pups to writing materials and charts.
As the story of this voyage has already been told, it may be rapidly passed over here. After much delay through headwinds in the Channel, we picked up the north-east trade in about the latitude of Gibraltar, and arrived at Madeira on September 6.
At 9 p.m. on September 9 we weighed anchor for the last time, and left Madeira. As soon as we were clear of the land we got the north-east trade again, and it held more or less fresh till about lat. 11° N.
After our departure from Madeira I took over the morning watch, from 4 to 8 a.m.; Prestrud and Gjertsen divided the remainder of the twenty-four hours.
In order if possible to get a little more way on the ship, a studding-sail and a skysail were rigged up with two awnings; it did not increase our speed very much, but no doubt it helped a little.
The highest temperature we observed was 84° F. In the trade winds we constantly saw flying-fish, but as far as I know not one was ever found on deck; those that came on board were of course instantly snapped up by the dogs.
In about lat. 11° N. we lost the north-east trade, and thus came into the “belt of calms,” a belt that extends on each side of the Equator, between the north-east and south-east trades. Here, as a rule, one encounters violent rain-squalls; to sailing ships in general and ourselves in particular this heavy rain is welcome, as water-tanks can be filled up. Only on one day were we lucky enough to have rain, but as it was accompanied by a strong squall of wind, we did not catch all the water we wanted. All hands were on deck carrying water, some in oilskins, some in Adam’s costume; the Chief in a white tropical suit, and, as far as I remember, clogs. As the latter were rather slippery, and the Fram suddenly gave an unexpected lurch, he was carried off his legs, and left sitting on the deck, while his bucket of water poured all over him. But “it was all in his country’s cause,” so he did not mind. We caught about 3 tons of water, and then had our tanks full, or about 30 tons, when the shower passed off; later in the voyage we filled a bucket now and again, but it never amounted to much, and if we had not been as careful as we were, our water-supply would hardly have lasted out.
On October 4 we crossed the Equator. The south-east trade was not so fresh as we had expected, and the engine had to be kept going the whole time.
At the beginning of November we came down into the west wind belt, or the “Roaring Forties,” as they are called, and from that time we ran down our easting at a great rate. We were very lucky there, and had strong fair winds for nearly seven weeks at a stretch. In the heavy sea we found out what it was to sail in the Fram; she rolls incessantly, and there is never a moment’s rest. The dogs were thrown backwards and forwards over the deck, and when one of them rolled into another, it was taken as a personal insult, and a fight followed at once. But for all that the Fram is a first-rate sea boat, and hardly ever ships any water. If this had been otherwise, the dogs would have been far worse off than they were.
The weather in the “Foggy Fifties “ varied between gales, calms, fogs, snowstorms, and other delights. As a rule, the engine was now kept constantly ready, in case of our being so unlucky as to come too near an iceberg. Fortunately, however, we did not meet any of these until early on the morning of January 1, 1911, when we saw some typical Antarctic bergs; that is to say, entirely tabular. Our latitude was then a little over 60° S., and we were not far off the pack. On the 1st and 2nd we sailed southward without seeing anything but scattered bergs and a constantly increasing number of lumps of ice, which showed us we were getting near. By 10 p.m. on the 2nd we came into slack drift-ice; the weather was foggy, and we therefore kept going as near as might be on the course to the Bay of Whales, which was destined to be our base.
A good many seals were lying on the ice-floes, and as we went forward we shot some. As soon as the first seal was brought on board, all our dogs had their first meat meal since Madeira; they were given as much as they wanted, and ate as much as they could. We, too, had our share of the seal, and from this time forward we had fresh seal-steak for breakfast at least every day; it tasted excellent to us, who for nearly half a year had been living on nothing but tinned meat. With the steak whortleberries were always served, which of course helped to make it appreciated. The biggest seal we got in the pack-ice was about 12 feet long, and weighed nearly half a ton. A few penguins were also shot, mostly Adélie penguins; these are extraordinarily amusing, and as inquisitive as an animal can be. When any of them saw us, they at once came nearer to get a better view of the unbidden guests. If they became too impertinent, we did not hesitate to take them, for their flesh, especially the liver, was excellent. The albatrosses, which had followed us through the whole of the west wind belt, had now departed, and in their place came the beautiful snowy petrels and Antarctic petrels.
We had more or less fog all through the pack-ice. Only on the night of the 5th did we have sun and fine weather, when we saw the midnight sun for the first time. A more beautiful morning it would be difficult to imagine: radiantly clear, with thick ice everywhere, as far as the eye could see; the lanes of water between the floes gleamed in the sun, and the ice-crystals glittered like thousands of diamonds. It was a pure delight to go on deck and drink in the fresh air; one felt altogether a new man. I believe everyone on board found this passage through the pack the most interesting part of the whole voyage, and, of course, it all had the charm of novelty. Those who had not been in the ice before, myself among them, and who were hunting for the first time, ran about after seals and penguins, and amused themselves like children.
At 10 p.m. on the 6th we were already out of the ice after a passage of exactly four days; we had been extremely lucky, and the Fram went very easily through the ice.
After coming out of the pack, our course was continued through the open Ross Sea to the Bay of Whales, which from the previous description was to be found in about long. 164° W. On the afternoon of the 11th we had strong ice-blink ahead, by which is meant the luminous stripe that is seen above a considerable accumulation of ice; the nearest thing one can compare it to is the glare that is always seen over a great city on approaching it at night. We knew at once that this was the glare of the mighty Ross Barrier, named after Sir James Clark Ross, who first saw it in 1841. The Barrier is a wall of ice, several hundred miles long, and about 100 feet high, which forms the southern boundary of Ross Sea. We were, of course, very intent upon seeing what it looked like, but to me it did not appear so imposing as I had imagined it. Possibly this was because I had become familiar with it, in a way, from the many descriptions of it. From these descriptions we had expected to find a comparatively narrow opening into Balloon Bight, as shown in the photographs we had before us; but as we went along the Barrier, on the 12th, we could find no opening. In long. 164° W., on the other hand, there was a great break in the wall, forming a cape (West Cape); from here to the other side of the Barrier was about eight geographical miles, and southward, as far as we could see, lay loose bay ice. We held on to the east outside this drift-ice and along the eastern Barrier till past midnight, but as Balloon Bight was not to be found, we returned to the above-mentioned break or cape, where we lay during the whole forenoon of the 13th, as the ice was too thick to allow us to make any progress. After midday, however, the ice loosened, and began to drift out; at the same time we went in, and having gone as far as possible, the Fram was moored to the fast ice-foot on the western side of the great bay we had entered. It proved that Balloon Bight and another bight had merged to form a great bay, exactly as described by Sir Ernest Shackleton, and named by him the Bay of Whales.
After mooring here, the Chief and one or two others went on a reconnoitring tour; but it began to snow pretty thickly, and, as far as I am aware, nothing was accomplished beyond seeing that the Barrier at the southernmost end of the bay sloped evenly down to the sea-ice; but between the latter and the slope there was open water, so that they could not go any farther. We lay all night drifting in the ice, which was constantly breaking up, and during this time several seals and penguins were shot. Towards morning on the 14th it became quite clear, and we had a splendid view of the surroundings. Right over on the eastern side of the bay it looked as if there was more open water; we therefore went along the fast ice-foot and moored off the eastern Barrier at about three in the afternoon. The cape in the Barrier, under which we lay, was given the name of “Man’s Head,” on account of its resemblance to a human profile. All the time we were going along the ice we were shooting seals, so that on arrival at our final moorings we already had a good supply of meat.
For my part I was rather unlucky on one of these hunts: Four seals were lying on the ice-foot, and I jumped down with rifle and five cartridges; to take any cartridges in reserve did not occur to me, as, of course, I regarded myself as a mighty hunter, and thought that one shot per seal was quite enough. The three first died without a groan; but the fourth took the alarm, and made off as fast as it could. I fired my fourth cartridge, but it did not hit as it ought to have done, and the seal was in full flight, leaving a streak of blood behind it. I was not anxious to let a wounded seal go, and as I had only one cartridge left, and the seal had its tail turned towards me, I wanted to come to close quarters to make sure of it. I therefore ran as hard as I could, but the seal was quicker, and it determined the range. After running half-way to the South Pole, I summoned my remaining strength and fired the last shot. Whether the bullet went above or below, I have no idea. All I know is, that on arriving on board I was met by scornful smiles and had to stand a good deal of chaff.
As already mentioned, we left Norway on August 9, 1910, and arrived at our final moorings on January 14, 1911, in the course of which time we had only called at Madeira. The Barrier is 16,000 geographical miles from Norway, a distance which we took five months to cover. From Madeira we had had 127 days in open sea, and therewith the first part of the voyage was brought to an end.
As soon as we had moored, the Chief, Prestrud, Johansen and I went up on to the Barrier on a tour of reconnaissance. The ascent from the sea-ice to the Barrier was fine, a perfectly even slope. When no more than a mile from the ship, we found a good site for the first dog-camp, and another mile to the south it was decided that the house was to stand, on the slope of a hill, where it would be least exposed to the strong south-easterly gales which might be expected from previous descriptions. Up on the Barrier all was absolutely still, and there was not a sign of life; indeed, what should anything live on? This delightful ski-run was extended a little farther to the south, and after a couple of hours we returned on board. Here in the meantime the slaughtering of seals had been going on, and there were plenty to be had, as several hundreds of them lay about on the ice.
After the rather long sea voyage, and the cramped quarters on board, I must say it was a pleasure to have firm ground under one’s feet and to be able to move about a little. The dogs evidently thought the same; when they came down on to the ice, they rolled in the snow and ran about, wild with delight. During our whole stay a great part of the time was spent in ski-runs and seal-hunts, and an agreeable change it was.
Sunday the 15th was spent in setting up tents at the first dog-camp and at Framheim, as the winter station was named. A team of dogs was used, and, as they were unused to being driven, it is not surprising that some lay down, others fought, a few wanted to go on board, but hardly any of them appreciated the seriousness of the situation or understood that their good time had come to an end. On Monday all the dogs were landed, and on the following day the supplies began to be put ashore.
The landing of the cases was done in this way: the sea-party brought up on deck as many cases as the drivers could take in one journey; as the sledges came down to the vessel, the cases were sent down on to the ice on skids, so that it all went very rapidly. We would not put the cases out on the ice before the sledges came back, as, in case the ice should break up, we should be obliged to heave them all on board again, or we might even lose them. At night no one was ever allowed to stay on the ice.
Before we reached the ice, we had counted on having 50 per cent. of idle days — that is, from previous descriptions we had reckoned on having such bad weather half the time that the Fram would be obliged to leave her moorings. In this respect we were far luckier than we expected, and only had to put out twice. The first time was on the night of January 25, when we had a stiff breeze from the north with some sea, so that the vessel was bumping rather hard against the ice. Drifting floes came down upon us, and so as not to be caught by any iceberg that might suddenly come sailing in from the point of the Barrier we called Man’s Head, we took our moorings on board and went. When the shore party next morning came down as usual at a swinging pace, they saw to their astonishment that the Fram was gone. In the course of the day the weather became fine, and we tried to go back about noon; but the bay was so full of drift-ice that we could not come in to the fast ice-foot. About nine in the evening we saw from the crow’s nest that the ice was loosening; we made the attempt, and by midnight we were again moored.
But the day was not wasted by the shore party, for on the day before Kristensen, L. Hansen and I had been out on ski and had shot forty seals, which were taken up to the station while we were away.
Only once or twice more did we have to leave our berth, until on February 7, when almost all the ice had left the bay, we were able to moor alongside the low, fast Barrier, where we lay in peace until we went for good.
There was a great deal of animal life about us. A number of whales came close in to the vessel, where they stayed still to look at the uninvited guests. On the ice seals came right up to the ship, as did large and small flocks of penguins, to have a look at us. These latter were altogether extraordinarily inquisitive creatures. Two Emperor penguins often came to our last moorings to watch us laying out an ice-anchor or hauling on a hawser, while they put their heads on one side and jabbered, and they were given the names of “the Harbour-master and his Missis.”
A great number of birds, skua gulls, snowy petrels and Antarctic petrels, flew round the ship and gave us many a good “roast ptarmigan.”
On the morning of February 4, about 1 a.m., the watchman, Beck, came and called me with the news that a vessel was coming in. I guessed at once, of course, that it was the Terra Nova; but I must confess that I did not feel inclined to turn out and look at her. We hoisted the colours, however.
As soon as she was moored, Beck told me, some of her party went ashore, presumably to look for the house. They did not find it, though, and at 3 a.m. Beck came below again, and said that now they were coming on board. So then I turned out and received them. They were Lieutenant Campbell, the leader of Captain Scott’s second shore party, and Lieutenant Pennell, the commander of the Terra Nova. They naturally asked a number of questions, and evidently had some difficulty in believing that it was actually the Fram that was lying here. We had at first been taken for a whaler. They offered to take our mail to New Zealand; but we had no mail ready, and had to decline the offer with thanks. Later in the day a number of the Terra Nova’s officers went to breakfast at Framheim, and the Chief, Prestrud and I lunched with them. At about two in the afternoon the Terra Nova sailed again.
On Friday, February 16, a number of the shore party started on the first trip to lay down depots. We cleared up, filled our water-tanks with snow, and made the ship ready for sea. We had finished this by the evening of the 14th.
The sea party consisted of the following ten men Thorvald Nilsen, L. Hansen, H. Kristensen and J. Nödtvedt; H. F. Gjertsen, A. Beck, M. Rönne, A. Kutschin and O. K. Sundbeck. The first four formed one watch, from eight to two, and the last five the other, from two to eight. Last, but not least, comes K. Olsen, cook.
Having made ready for sea, we let go our moorings on the Ice Barrier at 9 a.m. on February 15, 1911. Hassel, Wisting, Bjaaland, and Stubberud came down to see us off. As in the course of the last few days the ice had broken up right to the end of the bay, we went as far south as possible to take a sounding; the shallowest we got was 155 3/4 fathoms (285 metres). The bay ended in a ridge of ice on the east, which was continued in a northerly direction, so that at the spot where we were stopped by the Barrier, we reached the most southerly point that a vessel can attain, so long as the Barrier remains as it is now. Highest latitude 78° 41’ S. When the Terra Nova was here, her latitude and ours was 78° 38’ S.
The last two days before our departure had been calm, and a thick, dense sludge lay over the whole bay; so dense was it that the Fram lost her way altogether, and we had to keep going ahead and astern until we came out into a channel. Seals by the hundred were lying on the floes, but as we had a quantity of seal’s flesh, we left them in peace for a change.
Before the Chief began the laying out of depots, I received from him the following orders:
“To First-lieutenant Thorvald Nilsen.
With the departure of the Fram from the Ice Barrier, you will take over the command on board. In accordance with the plan we have mutually agreed upon
“1. You will sail direct to Buenos Aires, where the necessary repairs will be executed, provisions taken on board, and the crew completed. When this has been done,
“2. You will sail from Buenos Aires to carry out oceanographical observations in the South Atlantic Ocean. It would be desirable if you could investigate the conditions between South America and Africa in two sections. These investigations must, however, be dependent on the prevailing conditions, and on the time at your disposal. When the time arrives you will return to Buenos Aires, where the final preparations will be made for
“3. Your departure for the Ice Barrier to take off the shore party. The sooner you can make your way in to the Barrier in 1912, the better. I mention no time, as everything depends on circumstances, and I leave it to you to act according to your judgment.
“In all else that concerns the interests of the Expedition, I leave you entire freedom of action.
“If on your return to the Barrier you should find that I am prevented by illness or death from taking over the leadership of the Expedition, I place this in your hands, and beg you most earnestly to endeavour to carry out the original plan of the Expedition — the exploration of the North Polar basin.
“With thanks for the time we have spent together, and in the hope that when we meet again we shall have reached our respective goals,
When Sir James Ross was in these waters for the first time, in 1842, he marked “Appearance of land” in long. 160° W., and lat. about 78° S. Afterwards, in 1902, Captain Scott named this land “King Edward VII. Land.” One of the Terra Nova’s objects was to explore this land; but when we met the ship on February 4, they told us on board that on account of the ice conditions they had not been able to land. As no one had ever been ashore there, I thought it might be interesting to go and see what it looked like. Consequently our course was laid north-eastward along the Barrier. During the night a thick sea-fog came on, and it was only now and then that we could see the Barrier over our heads. All of a sudden we were close upon a lofty iceberg, so that we had to put the helm hard over to go clear. The Fram steers splendidly, however, when she is in proper trim, and turns as if on a pivot; besides which, it was calm.
As the day advanced, the weather cleared more and more, and by noon it was perfectly clear. The sight that then met us was the lofty Barrier to starboard, and elsewhere all round about some fifty icebergs, great and small. The Barrier rose from about 100 feet at its edge to something like 1,200 feet.
We followed the Barrier for some distance, but in the neighbourhood of Cape Colbeck we met the drift-ice, and as I had no wish to come between this and the Barrier, we stood out in a north-westerly direction. There is, besides, the disadvantage about a propeller like ours, that it is apt to wear out the brasses, so that these have to be renewed from time to time. It was imperative that this should be done before we came into the pack-ice, and the sooner the better. When, therefore, we had gone along the Barrier for about a day and a half without seeing any bare land, we set our course north-west in open water, and after we had come some way out we got a slant of easterly wind, so that the sails could be set. We saw the snow-covered land and the glare above it all night.
The date had not yet been changed, but as this had to be done, it was changed on February 15.8
At noon on the 16th the propeller was lifted, and by the evening of the 17th the job was done — a record in spite of the temperature. Capital fellows to work, our engineers.
On the night of the 15th we saw the midnight sun unfortunately for the last time. The same night something dark was sighted on the port bow; in that light it looked very like an islet. The sounding apparatus was got ready, and we who were on watch of course saw ourselves in our minds as great discoverers. I was already wondering what would be the most appropriate name to give it, but, alas! the “discovery” became clearer and the name — well, it was a rather prosaic one: “Dead Whale Islet”; for it turned out to be a huge inflated whale, that was drifting, covered with birds.
We went rather slowly north-westward under sail alone. On the morning of the 17th we saw ice-blink on the starboard bow, and about noon we were close to the pack itself; it was here quite thick, and raised by pressure, so that an attempt to get through it was out of the question. We were, therefore, obliged to follow the ice to the west. Due aft we saw in the sky the same glare as above the great Ice Barrier, which may possibly show that the Barrier turns towards the north and north-west; besides which, the masses of pressure-ice that collect here must go to show that it encounters an obstruction, probably the Barrier. When we went out in 1912 the ice lay in exactly the same place and in the same way.
Our course was still to the west along the pack-ice, and it was not till the 20th that we could turn her nose northward again. For a change we now had a stiff breeze from the south-east, with thick snow, so we got on very well. On the whole, the Fram goes much more easily through the water now than on the way south. Her bottom has probably been cleaned by the cold water and all the scraping against the ice; besides which, we have no more than a third of the load with which we left Norway.
On the night of the 20th we had to light the binnacle-lamps again, and now the days grew rapidly shorter. It may possibly be a good thing to have dark nights on land, but at sea it ought always to be light, especially in these waters, which are more or less unknown, and full of drifting icebergs.
At 4 p.m. on the 22nd we entered the drift-ice in lat. 70.5° S., long. 177.5° E. The ice was much higher and uglier than when we were going south, but as there was nothing but ice as far as we could see both east and west, and it was fairly loose, we had to make the attempt where there seemed to be the best chance of getting through.
The seals, which to the south of the ice had been following us in decreasing numbers, had now disappeared almost entirely, and curiously enough we saw very few seals in the pack. Luckily, however, Lieutenant Gjertsen’s watch got three seals, and for a week we were able to enjoy seal-beef, popularly known as “crocodile beef,” three times a day. Seal-beef and fresh whortleberries — delicioso!
We went comparatively well through the ice, though at night — from eleven to one — we had to slacken speed, as it was impossible to steer clear on account of the darkness, and towards morning we had a heavy fall of snow, so that nothing could be seen, and the engine had to be stopped. When it cleared, at about 9 a.m., we had come into a dam, out of which we luckily managed to turn fairly easily, coming out into a bay. This was formed by over a hundred icebergs, many of which lay in contact with each other and had packed the ice close together. On the west was the outlet, which we steered for, and by 10 p.m. on February 23 we were already out of the ice and in open water. Our latitude was then 69° S., longitude 175.5° E.
It is very curious to find such calm weather in Ross Sea; in the two months we have been here we have hardly had a strong breeze. Thus, when I was relieved at 2 a.m. on the 25th, I wrote in my diary ‘ . . . It is calm, not a ripple on the water. The three men forming the watch walk up and down the deck. Now and then one hears the penguins’ cry, kva, kva, but except these there is no other sound than the tuff, tuff of the motor, 220 times a minute. Ah, that motor! it goes unweariedly. It has now gone for 1,000 hours without being cleaned, while on our Atlantic cruise last year it stopped dead after going for eighty hours. . . . Right over us we have the Southern Cross, all round glow the splendid southern lights, and in the darkness can be seen the gleaming outline of an iceberg. . . . ”
On the 26th we crossed the Antarctic Circle, and the same day the temperature both of air and water rose above 32° F.
It was with sorrow in our hearts that we ate our last piece of “crocodile beef,” but I hoped we should get a good many albatrosses, which we saw as soon as we came out of the ice. They were mostly the sooty albatross, that tireless bird that generally circles alone about the ship and is so difficult to catch, as he seldom tries to bite at the pork that is used as bait. When I saw these birds for the first time, as a deck boy, I was told they were called parsons, because they were the souls of ungodly clergymen, who had to wait down here till doomsday without rest.
More or less in our course to Cape Horn there are supposed to be two groups of islands, the Nimrod group in about long. 158° W., and Dougherty Island in about long. 120° W. They are both marked “D” (Doubtful) on the English charts. Lieutenant Shackleton’s vessel, the Nimrod, Captain Davis, searched for both, but found neither; Dougherty Island, however, is said to have been twice sighted. The Fram’s course was therefore laid for the Nimrod group. For a time things went very well, but then we had a week of northerly winds — that is, head winds — and when at last we had a fair wind again, we were so far to the south-east of them that there was no sense in sailing back to the north-west to look for doubtful islands; it would certainly have taken us weeks. Consequently, our course was laid for Dougherty Island. We had westerly winds for about two weeks, and were only two or three days’ sail from the island in question, when suddenly we had a gale from the north-east, which lasted for three days, and ended in a hurricane from the same quarter. When this was over, we had come according to dead reckoning about eighty nautical miles to the south-east of the island; the heavy swell, which lasted for days, made it out of the question to attempt to go against it with the motor. We hardly had a glimpse of sun or stars, and weeks passed without our being able to get an observation, so that for that matter we might easily be a degree or two out in our reckoning. For the present, therefore, we must continue to regard these islands as doubtful.
Moral: Don’t go on voyages of discovery, my friend; you’re no good at it!
As soon as we were out of Ross Sea and had entered the South Pacific Ocean, the old circus started again — in other words, the Fram began her everlasting rolling from one side to the other. When this was at its worst, and cups and plates were dancing the fandango in the galley, its occupant’s only wish was, “Oh, to be in Buenos Aires!” For that matter, it is not a very easy job to be cook in such circumstances, but ours was always in a good humour, singing and whistling all day long. How well the Fram understands the art of rolling is shown by the following little episode.
One afternoon a couple of us were sitting drinking coffee on a tool-box that stood outside the galley. As ill-luck would have it, during one of the lurches the lashing came loose, and the box shot along the deck. Suddenly it was checked by an obstacle, and one of those who were sitting on it flew into the air, through the galley door, and dashed past the cook with a splendid tiger’s leap, until he landed face downwards at the other end of the galley, still clinging like grim death to his cup, as though he wanted something to hold on to. The face he presented after this successful feat of aviation was extremely comical, and those who saw it had a hearty fit of laughter.
As has already been said, we went very well for a time after reaching the Pacific, a fair wind for fourteen days together, and I began to hope that we were once more in what are called the “westerlies.” However, nothing is perfect in this world, and we found that out here, as we had icebergs every day, and were constantly bothered by snow-squalls or fog; the former were, of course, to be preferred, as it was at any rate clear between the squalls; but fog is the worst thing of all. It sometimes happened that all hands were on deck the whole night to work the ship at a moment’s notice, and there were never less than two men on the lookout forward. The engine, too, was always ready to be started instantly. A little example will show how ready the crew were at any time.
One Sunday afternoon, when Hansen, Kristensen and I were on watch, the wind began to draw ahead, so that we had to beat. It was blowing quite freshly, but I did not want to call the watch below, as they might need all the sleep they could get, and Hansen and I were to put the ship about. Kristensen was steering, but gave us a hand when he could leave the wheel. As the ship luffed up into the wind and the sails began to flap pretty violently, the whole of the watch below suddenly came rushing on deck in nothing but their unmentionables and started to haul. Chance willed it that at the same moment an iceberg came out of the fog, right in front of our bows. It was not many minutes, either, before we were on the other tack, and the watch below did not linger long on deck. With so few clothes on it was no pleasure to be out in that cold, foggy air. They slept so lightly, then, that it took no more noise than that to wake them. When I afterwards asked one of them — I think it was Beck — what made them think of coming up, he replied that they thought we were going to run into an iceberg and were trying to get out of the way.
It has happened at night that I have seen the ice-blink as far off as eight miles, and then there is nothing to fear; but sometimes in the middle of the day we have sailed close to icebergs that have only been seen a few minutes before we were right on them. As the voyage was long, we sailed as fast as we could, as a rule; but on two or three nights we had to reduce our way to a minimum, as we could not see much farther than the end of the bowsprit.
After two or three weeks’ sailing the icebergs began gradually to decrease, and I hoped we should soon come to the end of them; but on Sunday, March 5, when it was fairly clear, we saw about midday a whole lot of big bergs ahead. One of the watch below, who had just come on deck, exclaimed: “What the devil is this beastly mess you fellows have got into?” He might well ask, for in the course of that afternoon we passed no less than about a hundred bergs. They were big tabular bergs, all of the same height, about 100 feet, or about as high as the crow’s-nest of the Fram. The bergs were not the least worn, but looked as if they had calved quite recently. As I said, it was clear enough, we even got an observation that day (lat. 61° S., long. 150° W.), and as we had a west wind, we twisted quite elegantly past one iceberg after another. The sea, which during the morning had been high enough for the spray to dash over the tops of the bergs, gradually went down, and in the evening, when we were well to leeward of them all, it was as smooth as if we had been in harbour. In the course of the night we passed a good many more bergs, and the next day we only saw about twenty.
In the various descriptions of voyages in these waters, opinions are divided as to the temperature of the water falling in the neighbourhood of icebergs. That it falls steadily as one approaches the pack-ice is certain enough, but whether it falls for one or a few scattered icebergs, no doubt depends on circumstances.
One night at 12 o’clock we had a temperature in the water of 34.1° F., at 4 a.m. 33.8° F., and at 8 a.m. 33.6° F.; at 6 a.m. we passed an iceberg. At 12 noon the temperature had risen to 33.9° F. In this case one might say that the temperature gave warning, but, as a rule, in high latitudes it has been constant both before and after passing an iceberg.
On Christmas Eve, 1911, when on our second trip southward we saw the first real iceberg, the temperature of the water fell in four hours from 35.6° F. to 32.7° F., which was the temperature when the bergs were passed, after which it rose rather rapidly to 35° F.
In the west wind belt I believe one can tell with some degree of certainty when one is approaching ice. In the middle of November, 1911, between Prince Edward Island and the Crozet Islands (about lat. 47° S.) the temperature fell. Towards morning I remarked to someone: “The temperature of the water is falling as if we were getting near the ice.” On the forenoon of the same day we sailed past a very small berg; the temperature again rose to the normal, and we met no more ice until Christmas Eve.
On Saturday, March 4, the day before we met that large collection of bergs, the temperature fell pretty rapidly from 33.9° F. to 32.5° F. We had not then seen ice for nearly twenty-four hours. At the same time the colour of the water became unusually green, and it is possible that we had come into a cold current. The temperature remained as low as this till Sunday morning, when at 8 a. m. it rose to 32.7° F.; at 12 noon, close to a berg, to 32.9° F., and a mile to lee of it, to 33° F. It continued to rise, and at 4 p.m., when the bergs were thickest, it was 33.4° F.; at 8 p.m. 33.6° F., and at midnight 33.8° F. If there had been a fog, we should certainly have thought we were leaving the ice instead of approaching it; it is very curious, too, that the temperature of the water should not be more constant in the presence of such a great quantity of ice; but, as I have said, it may have been a current.
In the course of the week following March 5 the bergs became rarer, but the same kind of weather prevailed. Our speed was irreproachable, and in one day’s work (from noon to noon) we covered a distance of 200 nautical miles, or an average of about 82 knots an hour, which was the best day’s work the Fram had done up to that time. The wind; which had been westerly and north-westerly, went by degrees to the north, and ended in a hurricane from the north-east on Sunday, March 12. I shall quote here what I wrote about this in my diary on the 13th:
“Well, now we have experienced the first hurricane on the Fram. On Saturday afternoon, the 11th, the wind went to the north-east, as an ordinary breeze with rain. The barometer had been steady between 29.29 inches (744 millimetres) and 29.33 inches (745 millimetres). During the afternoon it began to fall, and at 8 p.m. it was 29.25 inches (743 millimetres) without the wind having freshened at all. The outer jib was taken in, however. By midnight the barometer had fallen to 29.0 inches (737 millimetres), while the wind had increased to a stiff breeze. We took in the foresail, mainsail, and inner jib, and had now only the topsail and a storm-trysail left. The wind gradually increased to a gale. At 4 a.m. on Sunday the barometer had fallen again to 28.66 inches (728 millimetres), and at 6 a.m. the topsail was made fast.9
The wind increased and the seas ran higher, but we did not ship much water. At 8 a.m. the barometer was 28.30 inches (719 millimetres), and at 9 a.m. 28.26 inches (718 millimetres), when at last it stopped going down and remained steady till about noon, during which time a furious hurricane was blowing. The clouds were brown, the colour of chocolate; I cannot remember ever having seen such an ugly sky. Little by little the wind went to the north, and we sailed large under two storm-trysails. Finally, we had the seas on our beam, and now the Fram showed herself in all her glory as the best sea-boat in the world. It was extraordinary to watch how she behaved. Enormous seas came surging high to windward, and we, who were standing on the bridge, turned our backs to receive them, with some such remark as: ‘Ugh, that’s a nasty one coming.’ But the sea never came. A few yards from the ship it looked over the bulwarks and got ready to hurl itself upon her. But at the last moment the Fram gave a wriggle of her body and was instantly at the top of the wave, which slipped under the vessel. Can anyone be surprised if one gets fond of such a ship? Then she went down with the speed of lightning from the top of the wave into the trough, a fall of fourteen or fifteen yards. When we sank like this, it gave one the same feeling as dropping from the twelfth to the ground-floor in an American express elevator, ‘as if everything inside you was coming up.’ It was so quick that we seemed to be lifted off the deck. We went up and down like this all the afternoon and evening, till during the night the wind gradually dropped and it became calm. That the storm would not be of long duration might almost be assumed from its suddenness, and the English rule —
Long foretold, long last; Short notice, soon past’ — may thus be said to have held good.
“When there is a strong wind on her beam, the Fram does not roll so much as usual, except for an occasional leeward lurch; nor was any excessive quantity of water shipped in this boisterous sea. The watch went below as usual when they were relieved, and, as somebody very truly remarked, all hands might quite well have turned in, if we had not had to keep a lookout for ice. And fortune willed it that the day of the hurricane was the first since we had left the Barrier that we did not see ice — whether this was because the spray was so high that it hid our view, or because there really was none. Be that as it may, the main thing was that we saw no ice. During the night we had a glimpse of the full moon, which gave the man at the wheel occasion to call out ‘Hurrah!’ — and with good reason, as we had been waiting a long time for the moon to help us in looking out for ice.
“In weather like this one notices nothing out of the ordinary below deck. Here hardly anything is heard of the wind, and in the after-saloon, which is below the water-line, it is perfectly comfortable. The cook, who resides below, therefore reckons ‘ugly weather’ according to the motion of the vessel, and not according to storms, fog, or rain. On deck we do not mind much how it blows, so long as it is only clear, and the wind is not against us. How little one hears below deck may be understood from the fact that yesterday morning, while it was blowing a hurricane, the cook went about as usual, whistling his two verses of ‘The Whistling Bowery Boy.’ While he was in the middle of the first, I came by and told him that it was blowing a hurricane if he cared to see what it looked like. ‘Oh, yes,’ he said, ‘I could guess it was blowing, for the galley fire has never drawn so well; the bits of coal are flying up the chimney’; and then he whistled through the second verse. All the same, he could not resist going up to see. It was not long before he came down again, with a ‘My word, it is blowing, and waves up to the sky!’ No; it was warmer and more cosy below among his pots and pans.
“For dinner, which was eaten as usual amid cheerful conversation, we had green-pea soup, roast sirloin, with a glass of aquavit, and caramel pudding; so it may be seen that the cook was not behindhand in opening tins, even in a hurricane. After dinner we enjoyed our usual Sunday cigar, while the canary, which has become Kristensen’s pet, and hangs in his cabin, sang at the top of its voice.”
On March 14 we saw the last iceberg; during the whole trip we had seen and passed between 500 and 600 bergs.
The wind held steady from the north-east for a week and a half, and I was beginning to think we should be stuck down here to play the Flying Dutchman. There was every possible sign of a west wind, but it did not come. On the night of the 17th it cleared; light cirrus clouds covered the sky, and there was a ring about the moon. This, together with the heavy swell and the pronounced fall of the barometer, showed that something might be expected. And, sure enough, on Sunday, March 19, we were in a cyclone. By manoeuvring according to the rules for avoiding a cyclone in the southern hemisphere, we at any rate went well clear of one semicircle. About 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon the barometer was down to 27.56 inches (700 millimetres), the lowest barometer reading I have ever heard of. From noon to 4 p.m. there was a calm, with heavy sea. Immediately after a gale sprang up from the north-west, and in the course of a couple of days it slowly moderated to a breeze from the same quarter.
Sunday, March 5, a hundred icebergs; Sunday March 12, a hurricane; and Sunday, March 19, a cyclone: truly three pleasant “days of rest.”
The curves given on the next page, which show the course of barometric pressure for a week, from Monday to Monday, are interesting.
By way of comparison a third curve is given from the north-east trade, where there is an almost constant breeze and fine weather.
On this trip the fore-saloon was converted into a sail-loft, where Rönne and Hansen carried on their work, each in his watch. The after-saloon was used as a common mess-room, as it is warmer, and the motion is far less felt than forward.
From the middle of March it looked as if the equinoctial gales were over, for we had quite fine weather all the way to Buenos Aires. Cape Horn was passed on March 31 in the most delightful weather — a light westerly breeze, not a cloud in the sky, and only a very slight swell from the west. Who would have guessed that such splendid weather was to be found in these parts? — and that in March, the most stormy month of the year.
Lieutenant Gjertsen and Kutschin collected plankton all the time; the latter smiled all over his face whenever he chanced to get one or two “tadpoles” in his tow-net.
From the Falkland Islands onward the Fram was washed and painted, so that we might not present too “Polar” an appearance on arrival at Buenos Aires.
It may be mentioned as a curious fact that the snow with which we filled our water-tanks on the Barrier did not melt till we were in the River La Plata, which shows what an even temperature is maintained in the Fram’s hold.
About midday on Easter Sunday we were at the mouth of the River La Plata, without seeing land, however. During the night the weather became perfect, a breeze from the south, moonlight and starry, and we went up the river by soundings and observations of the stars until at 1 a.m. on Monday, when we had the Recalada light-ship right ahead. We had not seen any light since we left Madeira on September 9. At 2.30 the same morning we got a pilot aboard, and at seven in the evening we anchored in the roads of Buenos Aires.
We had then been nearly once round the world, and for over seven months the anchor had not been out.
We had reckoned on a two months’ voyage from the ice, and it had taken us sixty-two days.
According to the programme, the Fram was to go on an oceanographical cruise in the South Atlantic, and my orders were that this was to be arranged to suit the existing circumstances. I had reckoned on a cruise of about three months. We should have to leave Buenos Aires at the beginning of October to be down in the ice at the right time (about the New Year).
As we were too short-handed to work the ship, take soundings, etc., the following four seamen were engaged: H. Halvorsen, A. Olsen, F. Steller, and J. Andersen.
At last we were more or less ready, and the Fram sailed from Buenos Aires on June 8, 1911, the anniversary of our leaving Horten on our first hydrographic cruise in the North Atlantic. I suppose there was no one on board on June 8, 1910, who dreamed that a year later we should go on a similar cruise in the South.
We had a pilot on board as far as Montevideo, where we arrived on the afternoon of the 9th; but on account of an increasing wind (pampero) we had to lie at anchor here for a day and a half, as the pilot could not be taken off. On Saturday afternoon, the 10th, he was fetched off by a big tug-boat, on board of which was the Secretary of the Norwegian Consulate. This gentleman asked us if we could not come into the harbour, as “people would like to see the ship.” I promised to come in on the way back, “if we had time.”
On Sunday morning, the 11th, we weighed anchor, and went out in the most lovely weather that can be imagined. Gradually the land disappeared, and in the course of the evening we lost the lights; we were once more out in the Atlantic, and immediately everything resumed its old course.
In order to save our supply of preserved provisions as much as possible, we took with us a quantity of live poultry, and no fewer than twenty live sheep, which were quartered in the “farmyard” on the port side of the vessel’s fore-deck. Sheep and hens were all together, and there was always a most beautiful scent of hay, so that we had not only sea air, but “country air.” In spite of all this delightful air, three or four of the crew were down with influenza, and had to keep their berths for some days.
I reckoned on being back at Buenos Aires by the beginning of September, and on getting, if possible, one station a day. The distance, according to a rough calculation, was about 8,000 nautical miles, and I laid down the following plan: To go about east by north with the prevailing northerly and north-westerly winds to the coast of Africa, and there get hold of the south-east trade. If we could not reach Africa before that date, then to turn on July 22 and lay our course with the south-east trade for St. Helena, which we could reach before August 1; from there again with the same wind to South Trinidad (August 11 or 12); on again with easterly and north-easterly winds on a south-westerly course until about August 22, when the observations were to be concluded, and we should try to make Buenos Aires in the shortest time.
That was the plan that we attempted. On account of the fresh water from the River La Plata, we did not begin at once to take samples of water, and with a head-wind, north-east, we lay close-hauled for some days. We also had a pretty stiff breeze, which was another reason for delaying the soundings until the 17th.
For taking samples of water a winch is used, with a sounding-line of, let us say, 5,000 metres (2,734 fathoms), on which are hung one or more tubes for catching water; we used three at once to save time. Now, supposing water and temperatures are to be taken at depths of 300, 400, and 500 metres (164, 218, and 273 fathoms), Apparatus III. (see diagram) is first hung on, about 20 metres (10 fathoms) from the end of the line, where a small weight (a) hangs; then it is lowered until the indicator-wheel, over which the line passes, shows 100 metres (54 fathoms); Apparatus II. is then put on, and it is lowered again for another 100 metres, when Apparatus I. is put on and the line paid out for 300 metres (164 fathoms) — that is, until the indicator-wheel shows 500 metres (273 fathoms). The upper Apparatus (I.) is then at 300 metres (164 fathoms), No. II. at 400 metres (218 fathoms), and No. III. at 500 metres (273 fathoms). Under Apparatus I. and II. is hung a slipping sinker (about 8 centimetres, or 3 1/4 inches, long, and 3 centimetres, or 1 1/4 inches, in diameter). To the water-samplers are attached thermometers (b) in tubes arranged for the purpose.
The water-samplers themselves consist of a brass cylinder (c), about 38 centimetres (15 inches) long and 4 centimetres (1 1/2 inches) in diameter (about half a litre of water), set in a frame (d). At about the middle of the cylinder are pivots, which rest in bearings on the frame, so that the cylinder can be swung 180 degrees (straight up and down).
The cylinder, while being lowered in an inverted position, is open at both ends, so that the water can pass through. But at its upper and lower ends are valves, working on hinges and provided with packing. When the apparatus is released, the cylinder swings round, and these valves then automatically close the ends of the cylinder. The water that is thus caught in the cylinder at the required depth remains in it while it is being heaved up, and is collected in bottles. When the apparatus is released, the column of mercury in the thermometer is broken, and the temperature of the water is read at the same depth as the water is taken from.
The release takes place in the following manner: when all the cylinders have been lowered to the required depths, they are left hanging for a few minutes, so that the thermometers may be set at the right temperature before the column of mercury is broken. Then a slipping sinker is sent down the line. When this sinker strikes the first apparatus, a spring is pressed, a hook (e) which has held the cylinder slips loose, and the cylinder turns completely over (Apparatus I.). As it does this, the valves, as already mentioned, close the ends of the cylinder, which is fixed in its new position by a hook in the bottom of the frame. At the same instant the slipping sinker that hangs under Apparatus I. is released, and continues the journey to Apparatus II., where the same thing happens. It is then repeated with Apparatus III. When they are all ready, they are heaved in.
By holding one’s finger on the line one can feel, at all events in fairly calm weather, when the sinkers strike against the cylinders; but I used to look at my watch, as it takes about half a minute for the sinker to go down 100 metres.
The necessary data are entered in a book.
On the morning of the 17th, then, the sails were clewed up, and the Fram began to roll even worse than with the sails set. We first tried taking soundings with a sinker of 66 pounds, and a tube for taking specimens of the sea-bed. At 2,000 metres (1,093 fathoms) or more the line (piano wire) broke, so that sinker, tube, and over 2,000 metres of line continued their way unhindered to the bottom. I had thought of taking samples of water at 4,000, 3,000, and 2,000 metres (2,187, 1,639, 1,093 fathoms), and so on, and water-cylinders were put on from 0 to 2,000 metres. This, however, took six hours. Next day, on account of the heavy sea, only a few samples from 0 to 100 metres (54 fathoms) were taken. On the third day we made another attempt to get the bottom. This time we got specimens of the sea-bed from about 4,500 metres (about 2,500 fathoms); but the heaving in and taking of water samples and temperatures occupied eight hours, from 7 a.m. till 3 p.m., or a third part of the twenty-four hours. In this way we should want at least nine months on the route that had been laid down; but as, unfortunately, this time was not at our disposal, we at once gave up taking specimens of the bottom and samples of water at greater depths than 1,000 metres (546 fathoms). For the remainder of the trip we took temperatures and samples of water at the following depths: 0, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, 750, and 1,000 metres (0, 2 3/4, 5 1/2, 13 1/2, 27, 41, 54, 81, 108, 135, 164, 218, 273, 410, and 546 fathoms), in all, fifteen samples from each station, and from this time forward we went on regularly with one station every day. Finally, we managed to heave up two water-cylinders on the same line by hand without great difficulty. At first this was done with the motor and sounding-machine, but this took too long, and we afterwards used nothing but a light hand-winch. Before very long we were so practised that the whole business only took two hours.
These two hours were those we liked best of the twenty-four. All kinds of funny stories were told, especially about experiences in Buenos Aires, and every day there was something new. Here is a little yarn:
One of the members of the expedition had been knocked down by a motor-car in one of the busiest streets; the car stopped and of course a crowd collected at once. Our friend lay there, wondering whether he ought not to be dead, or at least to have broken a leg, so as to get compensation. While he lay thus, being prodded and examined by the public, he suddenly remembered that he had half a dollar in his pocket. With all that money it didn’t matter so much about the compensation; up jumped our friend like an india-rubber ball, and in a second he had vanished in the crowd, who stood open-mouthed, gazing after the “dead” man.
Our speed on this cruise was regulated as nearly as possible so that there might be about 100 nautical miles between each station, and I must say we were uncommonly lucky in the weather. We made two fairly parallel sections with comparatively regular intervals between the stations; as regular, in any case, as one can hope to get with a vessel like the Fram, which really has too little both of sail area and engine power. The number of stations was 60 in all and 891 samples of water were taken. Of plankton specimens 190 were sent home. The further examination of these specimens in Norway will show whether the material collected is of any value, and whether the cruise has yielded satisfactory results.
As regards the weather on the trip, it was uniformly good the whole time; we had a good deal of wind now and then, with seas and rolling, but for the most part there was a fresh breeze. In the south-east trade we sailed for four weeks at a stretch without using the engine, which then had a thorough overhauling. At the same time we had a good opportunity of smartening up the ship, which she needed badly. All the iron was freed from rust, and the whole vessel painted both below and above deck. The decks themselves were smeared with a mixture of oil, tar and turpentine, after being scoured. All the rigging was examined. At the anchorage at Buenos Aires nearly the whole ship was painted again, masts and yards, the outside of the vessel and everything inboard, both deck-houses, the boats and the various winches, pumps, etc. In the engine-room everything was either shining bright or freshly painted, everything hung in its place and such order and cleanliness reigned that it was a pleasure to go down there. The result of all this renovating and smartening up was that, when we fetched up by the quay at Buenos Aires, the Fram looked brighter than I suppose she has ever done since she was new.
During the trip the holds were also cleaned up, and all the provisions re-stowed and an inventory made of them.
A whole suit of sails was completely worn out on this voyage; but what can one expect when the ship is being worked every single day, with clewing up, making fast and setting of sails both in calms and winds? This work every day reminded me of the corvette Ellida, when the order was “all hands aloft.” As a rule, though, it was only clewing up the sails that had to be done, as we always had to take soundings on the weather side, so that the sounding-line should not foul the bottom of the vessel and smash the apparatus. And we did not lose more than one thermometer in about nine hundred soundings.
On account of all this wear and tear of sails Rönne was occupied the whole time, both at sea and in Buenos Aires, in making and patching sails, as there was not much more than the leeches left of those that had been used, and on the approaching trip (to the Ice Barrier) we should have to have absolutely first-class things in the “Roaring Forties.”
June 30, 1911, is a red-letter day in the Fram’s history, as on that day we intersected our course from Norway to the Barrier, and the Franz thus completed her first circumnavigation of the globe. Bravo, Fram! It was well done, especially after the bad character you have been given as a sailer and a sea-boat. In honour of the occasion we had a better dinner than usual, and the Franz was congratulated by all present on having done her work well.
On the evening of July 29 St. Helena was passed. It was the first time I had seen this historic island. It was very strange to think that “the greatest spirit of a hundred centuries,” as some author has called Napoleon, should have ending his restless life on this lonely island of the South Atlantic.
On August 12, when daylight came, we sighted the little Martin Vaz Islands ahead, and a little later South Trinidad (in 1910 this island was passed on October 16). We checked our chronometers, which, however, proved to be correct. From noon till 2 p.m., while we were lying still and taking our daily hydrographic observations, a sailing ship appeared to the north of us, lying close-hauled to the south. She bore down on us and ran up her flag, and we exchanged the usual greetings; she was a Norwegian barque bound for Australia. Otherwise we did not see more than four or five ships on the whole voyage, and those were pretty far off:
Never since leaving Madeira (September, 1910) had we been troubled with animals or insects of any kind whatever; but when we were in Buenos Aires for the first time, at least half a million flies came aboard to look at the vessel. I hoped they would go ashore when the Fram sailed; but no, they followed us, until by degrees they passed peacefully away on fly-paper.
Well, flies are one thing, but we had something else that was worse — namely, rats — our horror and dread, and for the future our deadly enemies. The first signs of them I found in my bunk and on the table in the fore-saloon; they were certainly not particular. What I said on that occasion had better not be printed, though no expression could be strong enough to give vent to one’s annoyance at such a discovery. We set traps, but what was the use of that, when the cargo consisted exclusively of provisions?
One morning, as Rönne was sitting at work making sails, he observed a “shadow” flying past his feet, and, according to his account, into the fore-saloon. The cook came roaring: “There’s a rat in the fore-saloon!” Then there was a lively scene; the door was shut, and all hands started hunting. All the cabins were emptied and rummaged, the piano, too; everything was turned upside down, but the rat had vanished into thin air.
About a fortnight later I noticed a corpse-like smell in Hassel’s cabin, which was empty. On closer sniffing and examination it turned out to be the dead rat, a big black one, unfortunately a male rat. The poor brute, that had starved to death, had tried to keep itself alive by devouring a couple of novels that lay in a locked drawer. How the rat got into that drawer beats me.
On cleaning out the provision hold nests were found with several rats in them: six were killed, but at least as many escaped, so now no doubt we have a whole colony. A reward was promised of ten cigars for each rat; traps were tried again, but all this did very little good. When we were in Buenos Aires for the second time we got a cat on board; it certainly kept the rats down, but it was shot on the Barrier. At Hobart we provided a few traps, which caught a good many; but we shall hardly get rid of them altogether until we have landed most of the provisions, and smoked them out.
We have also had a lot of moth; at present they have done nothing beyond eating a couple of holes in my best trousers.
During the whole of this cruise we had a fishing-line hanging out, but it hung for a whole month without there being a sign of a fish, in spite of the most delicate little white rag that was attached to the hook. One morning the keenest of our fishermen came up as usual and felt the line. Yes, by Jove! at last there was one, and a big one, too, as he could hardly haul in the line by himself. There was a shout for assistance. “Hi, you beggar! come and lend a hand; there’s a big fish!” Help came in a second, and they both hauled for all they were worth. “Ah! he’s a fine, glistening fish; it’ll be grand to get fresh fish for dinner!” At last the fish appeared over the rail; but, alas! it was seen to have no head. It was an ordinary stockfish, about three-quarters of a yard long, that some joker had hung on the line during the night. That we all had a hearty laugh goes without saying, the fishermen included, as they took it all in good part.
As a fishing-boat the Fram is on the whole not very successful. The only fish we caught, besides the above-mentioned stockfish, was a real live fish; but, unfortunately, it fell off the hook as it was being hauled in. According to the account of eye-witnesses, this fish was . . . six feet long and one broad.
Now we don’t fish any more.
On August 19 the hydrographic observations were brought to an end, and a course was laid for Buenos Aires, where we anchored in the roads at midnight on September 1.
To arrive at Buenos Aires in the early part of 1911 was not an unmixed pleasure, especially when one had no money. The Fram Expedition was apparently not very popular at that time, and our cash balance amounted to about forty pesos (about (L)3 10s.), but that would not go very far; our supply of provisions had shrunk to almost nothing, and we had not enough to be able to leave the port. I had been told that a sum had been placed to the credit of the Fram for our stay in Buenos Aires, but I neither saw nor heard anything of it while we were there, and it was no doubt somewhat imaginary.
If we were to be at all able to go down and take off the shore party money must be found. We had come to the end of sail-cloth and ropes, we had too little food and a minimum of oil; all this would have to be provided. At the worst the oceanographical cruise could be cut out, and we could lie still at Buenos Aires; then, as our comrades could not very well be left to perish on the ice, enough would have to be sent us from Norway to enable us to go down there; but that would finish the whole expedition, as in such a case the Fram had orders to go back to Norway.
As usual, however, the Fram’s luck helped her again. A few days before we left Norway our distinguished compatriot in Buenos Aires, Don Pedro Christophersen, had cabled that he would supply us with what provisions we might require, if, after leaving Madeira, we would call at Buenos Aires. Of course, he did not know at that time that the voyage would be extended to include the South Pole, and that the Fram on arrival at Buenos Aires would be almost empty instead of having a full cargo, but that did not prevent his helping us. I immediately called on him and his brother, the Norwegian Minister; fortunately, they were both very enthusiastic about our Chief’s change of plan.
When, on a subsequent occasion, I expressed my astonishment at not hearing from home, I was told that the funds of the Expedition were exhausted, and Mr. Christophersen promised me, on hearing what straits we were in, to pay all our expenses in Buenos Aires, and to supply us with provisions and fuel. That brought us out of our difficulties at a bound, and we had no more need to take thought for the morrow.
Everyone on board received a sum of money for his personal expenses from the Norwegian colony of the River Plate, and we were invited to their dinner on Independence Day, May 17.
Our second stay at Buenos Aires was very pleasant; everyone was amiability itself, and festivities were even got up for us. We took on board provisions that had been sent out from Norway by Mr. Christophersen’s orders, about 50,000 litres (11,000 gallons) of petroleum, ship’s stores, and so on; enough for a year. But this was not all. Just before we sailed Mr. Christophersen said he would send a relief expedition, if the Fram did not return to Australia by a certain date; but, as everyone knows, this was happily unnecessary.
During the three weeks we were lying at the quay in Buenos Aires we were occupied in getting everything on board, and making the vessel ready for sea. We had finished this by the afternoon of Wednesday, October 4, and next morning the Pram was ready to continue her second circumnavigation of the globe.
In Buenos Aires we lay at the same quay as the Deutschland, the German Antarctic Expedition’s ship.
A. Kutschin and the second engineer, J. Nödtvedt, went home, and seaman J. Andersen was discharged.
On the trip from Buenos Aires to the Barrier the watches were divided as follows: From eight to two: T. Nilsen, L. Hansen, H. Halvorsen, and A. Olsen. From two to eight: H. Gjertsen, A. Beck, M. Rönne, and F. Steller. In the engine-room: K. Sundbeck and H. Kristensen. Lastly, K. Olsen, cook. In all eleven men.
It is said that “well begun is half done,” and it almost seems as if a bad beginning were likely to have a similar continuation. When we left the northern basin on the morning of October 5, there was a head wind, and it was not till twenty-four hours later that we could drop the pilot at the Recalada lightship. After a time it fell calm, and we made small progress down the River La Plata, until, on the night of the 6th, we were clear of the land, and the lights disappeared on the horizon.
Properly speaking, we ought to have been in the west wind belt as soon as we came out, and the drift of the clouds and movement of the barograph were examined at least twenty-four times a day, but it still remained calm. At last, after the lapse of several days, we had a little fresh south-westerly wind with hail showers, and then, of course, I thought we had made a beginning; but unfortunately it only lasted a night, so that our joy was short-lived.
We took with us from Buenos Aires fifteen live sheep and fifteen live little pigs, for which two houses were built on the after-deck; as, however, one of the pigs was found dead on the morning after the south-westerly breeze just mentioned, I assumed that this was on account of the cold, and another house was at once built for them between decks (in the work-room), where it was very warm. They were down here the whole time; but as their house was cleaned out twice a day and dry straw put on the floor, they did not cause us much inconvenience; besides which, their house was raised more than half a foot above the deck itself, so that the space below could always be kept clean. The pigs thrived so well down here that we could almost see them growing; on arrival at the Barrier we had no fewer than nine alive.
The sheep had a weather-tight house with a tarpaulin over the roof, and they grew fatter and fatter; we had every opportunity of noticing this, as we killed one of them regularly every Saturday until we came into the pack-ice and got seal-meat. We had four sheep left on reaching the Barrier.
We did wretchedly in October — calms and east winds, nothing but east winds; as regards distance it was the worst month we had had since leaving Norway, notwithstanding that the Fram had been in dry dock, had a clean bottom and a light cargo. When close-hauled with any head sea, we scarcely move; a stiff fair wind is what is wanted if we are to get on. Somebody said we got on so badly because we had thirteen pigs on board; another said it was because we caught so many birds, and I had caught no less than fourteen albatrosses and four Cape pigeons. Altogether there is quite enough of what I will call superstition at sea. One particular bird brings fine weather, another storms; it is very important to notice which way the whale swims or the dolphin leaps; the success of seal-hunting depends on whether the first seal is seen ahead or astern, and so on. Enough of that.
October went out and November came in with a fresh breeze from the south-south-west, so that we did nine and a half knots. This promised well for November, but the promise was scarcely fulfilled. We had northerly wind or southerly wind continually, generally a little to the east of north or south, and I believe I am not saying too much when I state that in the “west wind belt” with an easterly course we lay close-hauled on one tack or the other for about two-thirds of the way. For only three days out of three months did we have a real west wind, a wind which, with south-westerly and north-westerly winds, I had reckoned on having for 75 per cent. of the trip from Buenos Aires to about the longitude of Tasmania.
In my enthusiasm over the west wind in question, I went so far as to write in my diary at 2 a.m. on November 11: “There is a gale from the west, and we are making nine knots with foresail and topsail. The sea is pretty high and breaking on both sides of the vessel, so that everything about us is a mass of spray. In spite of this, not a drop of water comes on deck, and it is so dry that the watch are going about in clogs. For my part I am wearing felt slippers, which will not stand wet. Sea-boots and oilskins hang ready in the chart-house, in case it should rain. On a watch like to-night, when the moon is kind enough to shine, everyone on deck is in the best of humours, whistling, chattering, and singing. Somebody comes up with the remark that ‘She took that sea finely,’ or ‘Now she’s flying properly.’ ‘Fine’ is almost too feeble an expression; one ought to say ‘lightly and elegantly’ when speaking of the Fram. . . . What more can one wish?” etc.
But whatever time Adam may have spent in Paradise, we were not there more than three days, and then the same wretched state of things began again. What I wrote when there was a head wind or calm, I should be sorry to reproduce. Woe to him who then came and said it was fine weather.
It was lucky for us that the Fram sails so much more easily now than in 1910, otherwise we should have taken six months to reach the Barrier. When we had wind, we used it to the utmost; but we did not do this without the loss of one or two things; the new jib-sheet broke a couple of times, and one night we carried away the outer bobstay of the jib-boom. The foresail and topsail were neither made fast nor reefed during the whole trip.
The last time the jib-sheet broke there was a strong breeze from the south-west with a heavy sea; all sail was set with the exception of the spanker, as the ship would not steer with that. There was an extra preventer on the double jib-sheet, but in spite of that the sheets broke and the jib was split with a fearful crack. Within a minute the mainsail and gaff-topsail were hauled down, so that the ship might fall off, and the jib hauled down. This was instantly unbent and a new one bent. The man at the helm, of course, got the blame for this, and the first thing he said to me was “I couldn’t help it, she was twisting on the top of a wave.” We were then making ten knots, and more than that we shall not do.
The Fram rolled well that day. A little earlier in the afternoon, at two o’clock, when the watch had gone below to dinner and were just eating the sweet, which on that occasion consisted of preserved pears, we felt that there was an unusually big lurch coming. Although, of course, we had fiddles on the table, the plates, with meat, potatoes, etc., jumped over the fiddles, which they didn’t care a button for, into Beck’s cabin. I caught one of the pears in its flight, but the plate with the rest of them went on its way. Of course there was a great shout of laughter, which stopped dead as we heard a violent noise on deck, over our heads; I guessed at once it was an empty water-tank that had broken loose, and with my mouth full of pear I yelled “Tank!” and flew on deck with the whole watch below at my heels. A sea had come in over the after-deck, and had lifted the tank up from its lashings. All hands threw themselves upon the tank, and held on to it till the water had poured off the deck, when it was again fixed in its place. When this was done, my watch went below again and lit their pipes as if nothing had happened.
On November 13 we passed the northernmost of the Prince Edward Islands, and on the 18th close to Penguin Island, the most south-westerly of the Crozets. In the neighbourhood of the latter we saw a great quantity of birds, a number of seals and penguins, and even a little iceberg. I went close to the land to check the chronometers, which an observation and bearings of the islands showed to be correct.
Our course was then laid for Kerguelen Island, but we went too far north to see it, as for two weeks the wind was south-easterly and southerly, and the leeway we made when sailing close-hauled took us every day a little to the north of east. When we were in the same waters in 1910, there was gale after gale; then we did not put in at Kerguelen on account of the force of the wind; this time we could not approach the island because of the wind’s direction. In no respect can the second trip be compared with the first; I should never have dreamed that there could be so much difference in the “Roaring Forties” in two different years at the same season. In the “Foggy Fifties” the weather was calm and fine, and we had no fog until lat. 58° S.
As regards the distance sailed, November, 1911, is the best month the Fram has had.
In December, which began with a speed of one and a half knots, calm, swell against us, and the engine at full speed, we had a fair wind for three days, all the rest calms and head winds; the first part of the month from the north-east and east, so that we came much too far south; even in long. 150 E. we were in lat. 60° S. In Christmas week we had calms and light winds from the south-east, so that we managed to steal eastward to long. 170° E. and lat. 65° S., where, on the edge of the pack-ice, we had a stiff breeze from the north-north-east, that is, straight on to the ice.
Between Buenos Aires and the pack-ice we caught, as I have said, a good many birds, mostly albatrosses, and about thirty skins were prepared by L. Hansen. The largest albatross we got measured twelve feet between the tips of its wings, and the smallest bird was of a land species, not much bigger than a humming-bird.
Talking of albatrosses, it is both amusing and interesting to watch their elegant flight in a high wind. Without a movement of the wings they sail, now with, now against, the wind; at one instant they touch the surface of the water with the points of their wings, at the next they go straight into the air like an arrow. An interesting and instructive study for an aviator.
In a wind, when there is generally a number of them hovering about the vessel, they will dash down after anything that is thrown overboard; but of course it is useless to try to catch them when the ship has so much way. This must be done the next day, when the wind is lighter.
The birds are caught with an iron triangle, which ought to be enclosed in wood, so that it will float on the water. At the apex, which is very acute, the iron is filed as sharp as a knife, and pork is hung on each of the sides. When this is thrown in the wake of the ship, the bird settles on the water to feed. The upper part of its beak is hooked like that of a bird of prey, and as the albatross opens its beak and bites at the pork, you give a jerk, so that the triangle catches the upper part of the beak by two small notches, and the bird is left hanging. If the line should break, the whole thing simply falls off and the bird is unharmed. In hauling in, therefore, you have to be very careful to hold the line quite tight, even if the bird flies towards you, otherwise it will easily fall off: A bird may be pulled half-way in several times, and will immediately take the bait again.
On the night of December 11 an unusually beautiful aurora was seen; it lasted over an hour, and moved in a direction from west to east.
On the 14th all the white paint was washed; the temperature was 43° F., and we were in shirt-sleeves.
For a whole week before Christmas the cook was busy baking Christmas cakes. I am bound to say he is industrious; and the day before Christmas Eve one of the little pigs, named Tulla, was killed. The swineherd, A. Olsen, whose special favourite this pig was, had to keep away during the operation, that we might not witness his emotion.
Early on the morning of Christmas Eve we saw the three first icebergs; there was an absolute calm all day, with misty air.
To keep Christmas the engine was stopped at 5 p.m., and then all hands came to dinner. Unfortunately we had no gramophone to sing to us, as in 1910; as a substitute the “orchestra” played “Glade Jul, hellige Jul,” when all were seated. The orchestra was composed of Beck on the violin, Sundbeck on the mandolin, and the undersigned on the flute. I puffed out my cheeks as much as I could, and that is not saying a little, so that the others might see how proficient I was. I hardly think it was much of a musical treat; but the public was neither critical nor ceremonious, and the prevalent costume was jerseys. The dinner consisted of soup, roast pork, with fresh potatoes and whortleberries, ten-years-old aquavit and Norwegian bock beer, followed by wine-jelly and “kransekake,” with — champagne. The toasts of their Majesties the King and Queen, Don Pedro Christophersen, Captain Amundsen, and the Fram were drunk.
I had decorated the saloon in a small way with artificial flowers, embroideries, and flags, to give a little colour. Dinner was followed by cigars and the distribution of Christmas presents. L. Hansen played the accordion, and Lieutenant Gjertsen and Rönne danced “folk dances”; the latter was, as usual, so amusing that he kept us in fits of laughter.
At ten o’clock it was all over, the engine was started again, one watch went to bed and the other on deck; Olsen cleaned out the pigsty, as usual at this time of night. That finished Christmas for this year.
As has been said before, Sir James Ross was down here in the 1840’s. Two years in succession he sailed from the Pacific into Ross Sea with two ships that had no auxiliary steam-power. I assumed, therefore, that if he could get through so easily, there must be some place between South Victoria Land and the Barrier (or land) on the other side, where there was little or no ice. Following this assumption, I intended to go down to the western pack-ice (that lying off South Victoria Land) and steer along it till we were in Ross Sea, or, at all events, until we found a place where we could easily get through. It is quite possible that Ross was very lucky in the time at which he encountered the ice, and that he only sailed in clear weather. We had no time to spare, however, but had to make use of whatever wind there was, even if we could not see very far.
As early as December 28, at 5 p.m., in lat. 65° S. and long. 171.5° E., it was reported that we were off the pack. I was a good deal surprised, as recent expeditions had not met the pack until 66.5° S., or about one hundred nautical miles farther south, nor had there been any sign of our being so near the ice. The wind for the last few days had been south-easterly, but for the moment it was calm; we therefore held on to the east along the edge of the pack, with the ice to starboard. About midnight the wind freshened from the north, and we lay close-hauled along the edge of the ice till midday on the 29th, when the direction of the ice became more southerly. The northerly wind, which gradually increased to a stiff breeze, was good enough for getting us on, but it must inevitably bring fog and snow in its train. These came, sure enough, as thick as a wall, and for a couple of days we sailed perfectly blindly.
Outside the pack-ice proper lie long streams of floes and loose scattered lumps, which become more frequent as one nears the pack. For two days we sailed simply by the lumps of ice; the more of them we saw, the more easterly was our course, until they began to decrease, when we steered more to the south. In this way we went in forty-eight hours from lat. 65° S. and long. 174° E. to lat. 69° S. and long. 178° E., a distance of about two hundred and fifty nautical miles, without entering the pack. Once we very nearly went into the trap, but fortunately got out again. The wind was so fresh that we did as much as eight and a half knots; when sailing at such a rate through a loose stream of ice, we sometimes ran upon a floe, which went under the ship’s bottom, and came up alongside the other way up.
During the afternoon of the 31st the streams of ice became closer and closer, and then I made the mistake of continuing to sail to the eastward; instead of this, I ought to have stood off, and steered due south or to the west of south, with this ice on ourport side. The farther we advanced, the more certain I was that we had come into the eastern pack-ice. It must be remembered, however, that owing to fog and thick snow we had seen nothing for over two days. Observations there were none, of course; our speed had varied between two and eight and a half knots, and we had steered all manner of courses. That our dead reckoning was not very correct in such circumstances goes without saying, and an observation on January 2 showed us that we were somewhat farther to the east than we had reckoned. On the evening of December 31 the fog lifted for a while, and we saw nothing but ice all round. Our course was then set due south. We had come right down in lat. 69.5° S., and I hoped soon to be clear altogether; in 1910 we got out of the ice in 70°S., and were then in the same longitude as now.
Now, indeed, our progress began to be slow, and the old year went out in a far from pleasant fashion. The fog was so thick that I may safely say we did not see more than fifty yards from the ship, whereas we ought to have had the midnight sun; ice and snow-sludge were so thick that at times we lay still. The wind had, unfortunately, fallen off, but we still had a little breeze from the north, so that both sails and engine could be used. We went simply at haphazard; now and then we were lucky enough to come into great open channels and even lakes, but then the ice closed again absolutely tight. It could hardly be called real ice, however, but was rather a snow-sludge, about two feet thick, and as tough as dough; it looked as if it had all just been broken off a single thick mass. The floes lay close together, and we could see how one floe fitted into the other. The ice remained more or less close until we were right down in lat. 73°S. and long. 179° W.; the last part of it was old drift-ice.
From here to the Bay of Whales we saw a few scattered streams of floes and some icebergs.
A few seals were shot in the ice, so that we had fresh meat enough, and could save the sheep and pigs until the shore party came on board. I was sure they would appreciate fresh roast pork.
The chart of Ross Sea has been drawn chiefly as a guide to future expeditions. It may be taken as certain that the best place to go through the ice is between long. 176° E. and 180°, and that the best time is about the beginning of February.
Take, for instance, our southward route in 1911 — 1912: as has been said, the ice was met with as early as in 65° S., and we were not clear of it till about 73° S.; between 68° S. and 69° S. the line is interrupted, and it was there that I ought to have steered to the south.
Now follow the course from the Bay of Whales in 1912. Only in about 75° S. was ice seen (almost as in 1911), and we followed it. After that time we saw absolutely no more ice, as the chart shows; therefore in the course of about a month and a half all the ice that we met when going south had drifted out.
The stippled line shows how I assume the ice to have lain; the heavy broken line shows what our course ought to have been.
The midnight sun was not seen till the night of January 7, 1912, to the south of lat. 77° S.; it was already 9.5° above the horizon.
On the night of January 8 we arrived off the Barrier in extremely bitter weather. South-westerly and southerly winds had held for a few days, with fair weather; but that night there was thick snow, and the wind gradually fell calm, after which a fresh breeze sprang up from the south-east, with biting snow, and at the same time a lot of drift-ice. The engine went very slowly, and the ship kept head to wind. About midnight the weather cleared a little, and a dark line, which proved to be the Barrier, came in sight. The engine went ahead at full speed, and the sails were set, so that we might get under the lee of the perpendicular wall. By degrees the ice-blink above the Barrier became lighter and lighter, and before very long we were so close under it that we only just had room to go about. The Barrier here runs east and west, and with a south-easterly wind we went along it to the east. The watch that had gone below at eight o’clock, when we were still in open sea, came up again at two to find us close to the long-desired wall of ice.
Some hours passed in the same way, but then, of course, the wind became easterly — dead ahead — so that we had tack after tack till 6 p.m. the same day, when we were at the western point of the Bay of Whales.
The ice lay right out to West Cape, and we sailed across the mouth of the bay and up under the lee of the eastern Barrier, in order, if possible, to find slack ice or open water; but no, the fast ice came just as far on that side. It turned out that we could not get farther south than 78°30’ — that is, eleven nautical miles farther north than the previous year, and no less than fifteen nautical miles from Framheim, taking into consideration the turn in the bay.
We were thus back at the same place we had left on February 14, 1911, and had since been round the world. The distance covered on this voyage of circumnavigation was 25,000 nautical miles, of which 8,000 belong to the oceanographical cruise in the South Atlantic.
We did not lie under the lee of the eastern Barrier for more than four hours; the wind, which had so often been against us, was true to its principles to the last. Of course it went to the north and blew right up the bay; the drift-ice from Ross Sea came in, and at midnight (January 9 — 10) we stood out again.
I had thought of sending a man up to Framheim to report that we had arrived, but the state of the weather did not allow it. Besides, I had only one pair of private ski on board and should therefore only have been able to send one man. It would have been better if several had gone together.
During the forenoon of the l0th it gradually cleared, the wind fell light and we stood inshore again. As at the same time the barometer was rising steadily, Lieutenant Gjertsen went ashore on ski about one o’clock.
Later in the afternoon a dog came running out across the sea-ice, and I thought it had come down on Lieutenant Gjertsen’s track; but I was afterwards told it was one of the half-wild dogs that ran about on the ice and did not show themselves up at the hut.
Meanwhile the wind freshened again; we had to put out for another twenty-four hours and lay first one way and then the other with shortened sail; then there was fine weather again and we came in. At 4 p.m. on the 11th Lieutenant Gjertsen returned with Lieutenant Prestrud, Johansen and Stubberud. Of course we were very glad to see one another again and all sorts of questions were asked on both sides. The Chief and the southern party were not yet back. They stayed on board till the 12th, got their letters and a big pile of newspapers and went ashore again; we followed them with the glasses as far as possible, so as to take them on board again if they could not get across the cracks in the ice.
During the days that followed we lay moored to the ice or went out, according to the weather.
At 7 p.m. on the 16th we were somewhat surprised to see a vessel bearing down. For my part, I guessed her to be the Aurora, Dr. Mawson’s ship. She came very slowly, but at last what should we see but the Japanese flag! I had no idea that expedition was out again. The ship came right in, went past us twice and moored alongside the loose ice. Immediately afterwards ten men armed with picks and shovels went up the Barrier, while the rest rushed wildly about after penguins, and their shots were heard all night. Next morning the commander of the Kainan Maru, whose name was Homura, came on board. The same day a tent was set up on the edge of the Barrier, and cases, sledges, and so on, were put out on the ice. Kainan Maru means, I have been told, “the ship that opens the South.”
Prestrud and I went on board her later in the day, to see what she was like, but we met neither the leader of the expedition nor the captain of the ship. Prestrud had the cinematograph apparatus with him, and a lot of photographs were also taken.
The leader of the Japanese expedition has written somewhere or other that the reason of Shackleton’s losing all his ponies was that the ponies were not kept in tents at night, but had to lie outside. He thought the ponies ought to be in the tents and the men outside. From this one would think they were great lovers of animals, but I must confess that was not the impression I received. They had put penguins into little boxes to take them alive to Japan! Round about the deck lay dead and half-dead skua gulls in heaps. On the ice close to the vessel was a seal ripped open, with part of its entrails on the ice; but the seal was still alive. Neither Prestrud nor I had any sort of weapon that we could kill the seal with, so we asked the Japanese to do it, but they only grinned and laughed. A little way off two of them were coming across the ice with a seal in front of them; they drove it on with two long poles, with which they pricked it when it would not go. If it fell into a crack, they dug it up again as you would see men quarrying stone at home; it had not enough life in it to be able to escape its tormentors. All this was accompanied by laughter and jokes. On arrival at the ship the animal was nearly dead, and it was left there till it expired.
On the 19th we had a fresh south-westerly wind and a lot of ice went out. The Japanese were occupied most of the night in going round among the floes and picking up men, dogs, cases, and so on, as they had put a good deal on to the ice in the course of the day. As the ice came out, so the Fram went in, right up to fat. 78°35’ S., while the Kainan Maru drifted farther and farther out, till at last she disappeared. Nor did we see the vessel again, but a couple of men with a tent stayed on the Barrier as long as we were in the bay.
On the night of the 24th there was a stiff breeze from the west, and we drifted so far out in the thick snow that it was only on the afternoon of the 27th that we could make our way in again through a mass of ice. In the course of these two days so much ice had broken up that we came right in to fat. 78°39’ S., or almost to Framheim, and that was very lucky. As we stood in over the Bay of Whales, we caught sight of a big Norwegian naval ensign flying on the Barrier at Cape Man’s Head, and I then knew that the southern party had arrived. We went therefore as far south as possible and blew our powerful siren; nor was it very long before eight men came tearing down. There was great enthusiasm. The first man on board was the Chief; I was so certain he had reached the goal that I never asked him. Not till an hour later, when we had discussed all kinds of other things, did I enquire “Well, of course you have been at the South Pole?”
We lay there for a couple of days; on account of the short distance from Framheim, provisions, outfit, etc., were brought on board. If such great masses of ice had not drifted out in the last few days, it would probably have taken us a week or two to get the same quantity on board.
At 9.30 p.m. on January 30, 1912, in a thick fog, we took our moorings on board and waved a last farewell to the mighty Barrier.
The first day after our departure from the Barrier everything we had taken on board was stowed away, so that one would not have thought our numbers were doubled, or that we had taken several hundred cases and a lot of outfit on board. The change was only noticed on deck, where thirty-nine powerful dogs made an uproar all day long, and in the fore-saloon, which was entirely changed. This saloon, after being deserted for a year, was now full of men, and it was a pleasure to be there; especially as everyone had something to tell — the Chief of his trip, Prestrud of his, and Gjertsen and I of the Fram’s.
However, there was not very much time for yarning. The Chief at once began writing cablegrams and lectures, which Prestrud and I translated into English, and the Chief then copied again on a typewriter. In addition to this I was occupied the whole time in drawing charts, so that on arrival at Hobart everything was ready; the time passed quickly, though the voyage was fearfully long.
As regards the pack-ice we were extremely lucky. It lay in exactly the same spot where we had met with it in 1911 — that is, in about lat. 75° S. We went along the edge of it for a very short time, and then it was done with. To the north of 75° we saw nothing but a few small icebergs.
We made terribly slow progress to the northward, how slow may perhaps be understood if I quote my diary for February 27:
“This trip is slower than anything we have had before; now and then we manage an average rate of two knots an hour in a day’s run. In the last four days we have covered a distance that before would have been too little for a single day. We have been at it now for nearly a month, and are still only between lat. 52° and 53° S. Gales from the north are almost the order of the day,” etc. However, it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the time was well employed with all we had to do.
After a five weeks’ struggle we at last reached Hobart and anchored in the splendid harbour on March 7.
Our fresh provisions from Buenos Aires just lasted out; the last of the fresh potatoes were finished a couple of days before our arrival, and the last pig was killed when we had been at Hobart two days.
The Fram remained here for thirteen days, which were chiefly spent in repairing the propeller and cleaning the engine; in addition to this the topsail-yard, which was nearly broken in the middle, was spliced, as we had no opportunity of getting a new one.
The first week was quiet on board, as, owing to the circumstances, there was no communication with the shore; but after that the ship was full of visitors, so that we were not very sorry to get away again.
Twenty-one of our dogs were presented to Dr. Mawson, the leader of the Australian expedition, and only those dogs that had been to the South Pole and a few puppies, eighteen in all, were left on board.
While we lay in Hobart, Dr. Mawson’s ship, the Aurora, came in. I went aboard her one day, and have thus been on board the vessels of all the present Antarctic expeditions. On the Terra Nova, the British, on February 4, 1911, in the Bay of Whales; on the Deutschland, the German, in September and October, 1911, in Buenos Aires; on the Kainan Maru, the Japanese, on January 17, 1912, in the Bay of Whales; and finally on the Aurora in Hobart. Not forgetting the Fram, which, of course, I think best of all.
On March 20 the Fram weighed anchor and left Tasmania.
We made very poor progress to begin with, as we had calms for nearly three weeks, in spite of its being the month of March in the west wind belt of the South Pacific. On the morning of Easter Sunday, April 7, the wind first freshened from the north-west and blew day after day, a stiff breeze and a gale alternately, so that we went splendidly all the way to the Falkland Islands, in spite of the fact that the topsail was reefed for nearly five weeks on account of the fragile state of the yard. I believe most of us wanted to get on fast; the trip was now over for the present, and those who had families at home naturally wanted to be with them as soon as they could; perhaps that was why we went so well.
On April 1 Mrs. Snuppesen gave birth to eight pups; four of these were killed, while the rest, two of each sex, were allowed to live.
On Maundy Thursday, April 4, we were in long. 180° and changed the date, so that we had two Maundy Thursdays in one week; this gave us a good many holidays running, and I cannot say the effect is altogether cheerful; it was a good thing when Easter Tuesday came round as an ordinary week-day.
On May 6 we passed Cape Horn in very fair weather; it is true we, had a snow-squall of hurricane violence, but it did not last much more than half an hour. For a few days the temperature was a little below freezing-point, but it rose rapidly as soon as we were out in the Atlantic.
From Hobart to Cape Horn we saw no ice.
After passing the Falkland Islands we had a head wind, so that the last part of the trip was nothing to boast of.
On the night of May 21 we passed Montevideo, where the Chief had arrived a few hours before. From here up the River La Plata we went so slowly on account of head wind that we did not anchor in the roads of Buenos Aires till the afternoon of the 23rd, almost exactly at the same time as the Chief landed at Buenos Aires. When I went ashore next morning and met Mr. P. Christophersen, he was in great good-humour. “This is just like a fairy tale,” he said; and it could not be denied that it was an amusing coincidence. The Chief, of course, was equally pleased.
On the 25th, the Argentine National Fête, the Fram was moored at the same quay that we had left on October 5, 1911. At our departure there were exactly seven people on board to say good-bye, but, as far as I could see, there were more than this when we arrived; and I was able to make out, from newspapers and other sources, that in the course of a couple of months the third Fram Expedition had grown considerably in popularity.
In conclusion I will give one or two data. Since the Fram left Christiania on June 7, 1910, we have been two and a half times round the globe; the distance covered is about 54,400 nautical miles; the lowest reading of the barometer during this time was 27.56 inches (700 millimetres) in March, 1911, in the South Pacific, and the highest 30.82 inches (783 millimetres) in October, 1911, in the South Atlantic.
On June 7, 1912, the second anniversary of our leaving Christiania, all the members of the Expedition, except the Chief and myself, left for Norway, and the first half of the Expedition was thus brought to a fortunate conclusion.
8 — A vessel sailing continuously to the eastward puts the clock on every day, one hour for every fifteen degrees of longitude; one sailing westward puts it back in the same way. In long. 180deg. one of them has gone twelve hours forward, the other twelve hours back; the difference is thus twenty-four hours. In changing the longitude, therefore, one has to change the date, so that, in passing from east to west longitude, one will have the same day twice over, and in passing from west to east longitude a day must be missed.
9 — For the benefit of those who know what a buntline on a sail is, I may remark that besides the usual topsail buntlines we had six extra buntlines round the whole sail, so that when it was clewed up it was, so to speak, made fast. We got the sail clewed up without its going to pieces, but it took us over an hour. We had to take this precaution, of having so many buntlines, as we were short-handed.
by Roald Amundsen
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:50