Bert Lincoln was an Able Bodied ordinary seaman on board the
SY Aurora during a trip lasting just under three months from
Hobart to Commonwealth Bay Antarctica and back again to relieve
Mawson's expedition during its second summer, the middle
of a three summer and two winter expedition. What follows is
Bert's diary of the voyage.
The Aurora in pack ice
It is typed it as it is written.
There is an occasional word or letters that I have not been
able to interpret, at these points I have written a row of dashes
----- or wrapped question marks around the word where I have
- Page 5 - in Antarctica
Saturday Feb 15th 1913
the sails, which were set yesterday afternoon all night until
4 oclock this morning, when we furled and stowed the foresail,
this job is an easy one on board here as we can clew it up,
then furl and stow it in ten minutes.
The weather came on
thick this morning at 2 o'clock with a good deal of snow and
a bit of sea on.
We have had to keep a man on lookout all
day on account of the icebergs about and the weather being very
thick. We are steering N. by W. 3/4 W. Sometimes we cannot see
for more than 150 yards ahead of the ship when a heavy snow
squall comes on, so it is risky work travelling along at ten
or twelve knots an hour.
The weather is nice and warm now
for we are a good way to the north of heavy ice, and the only
danger is from icebergs which we meet pretty frequently. The
upper topsail was also made fast at 7 o'clock in the morning.
Sunday Feb 16th 1913
We had thick weather all last night and at 4 o'clock
as it was getting finer weather we set the upper topsail again
and the other watch went below. The other man and I who were
left in the watch (one man being at the wheel) then got a job
to put the double sheets on the foresail then set the sail which
job was finished by 5.30 when I relieved the wheel. At 6 o'clock
the mate pointed out a large iceberg on the port-beam, if we
had met that ahead of us in a snow squall it would be serious
for us. During the day we have had fine sunny weather and the
nice breeze still blowing fair. We expect to reach the base
at Gaussberg in about five days time so if we have good luck
we may be homeward bound in a fortnight.
Except for setting the sails and bracing the yards we have not
been set to work today which is a wonder seeing that it is Sunday
At 8 o'clock to night the both watches took in the foresail
this makes it better for the officers to lookout ahead for icebergs.
The sun sets now about 7 o'clock at night and rises about 6
o'clock in the morning and the nights are very dark.
party which we took aboard from the main base have been divided
into two watches and are keeping six hour watches each to give
us a hand with the sails, braces etc. of course they do not
all go aloft at all nor do they steer but still their weights
are very handy when pulling on the sheets and braces, when setting
sail and on clew-lines & bunt-lines when furling sail and
especially when we are setting the upper topsail (a heavy job)
we are glad to have them pulling on the topsail halyards.
Monday Feb 17th 1913
Our watch had the middle night watch on deck viz the midnight
till 4 o'clock this morning. At half past three, two of us were
sent aloft to loose the foresail this accomplished we came down
and with the aid of the "scientist watch" set the
sail. The foresail is the largest sail, but in seven minutes
from the time the order was given, the sail was set and
was shifting the ship along. This seems to be the regular thing
now, while we are among ice, to make the sail fast at eight
o'clock at night just before dark, and set it again just after
daylight. The topsails are kept on day or night as they are
no trouble when bracing which must be done quickly, should we
sight ice, close ahead at night, as we are travelling at a good
speed. The weather is still warm, at breakfast time this morning
the thermometer stood at 40°.
We were making wire grommets
this morning as we are going to put lifts on the topsail yards
and we could work the wire with bare hands without getting cold
fingers. We have been steering N. by W. 1/4 W. all day. Towards
evening we began to sight more icebergs than we usually have
this last three or four days. We have been having light snow
squalls today but at six o'clock we had a fairly heavy fall
and the big Dane in our watch pasted me with a couple of snowballs
and I gave him one back again and the other man in the watch
let one fly at the Dane and then in about two minutes both watches
were having a high time snowballing and one of my stray shots
just missed the captains head by about three inches but he took
it as a joke for a wonder. The mate on the bridge was watching
the fun and enjoying it immensely his face was like a water-melon
with a big slice cut out of it, although he had some narrow
escapes from snowballs that had been thrown at one sailor by
another. These strays were not all accidental either. One chap
got me square on the back of the neck, it was a bit cold down
my back for a minute or two afterwards.
Both watches made
fast the fore-sail again this evening at eight oclock, but I
suppose it will be set about 3.30 or 4 oclock in the morning.
I have been told that the party at Gaussberg will only bring
their instruments on board with them, and will leave all their
other stuff behind such as stores, coal etc. that they might
have left so they ought not to take long to get aboard, once
we find them.
Nothing much doing today.
The breeze was very light early this morning. so the foresail
was not set until about nine oclock when the breeze freshened
a little. We expect to reach the ice-barrier to-morrow after
which we have to make 120 miles to the southwards to be in the
latitude of the base.
We have had very nice weather to-day,
the temperature at 8 o'clock this evening was 34°. We have
noticed several strange faces on deck this last two or three
days of calm weather before, they were sea-sick, but now they
pay some interest in things one of the sea-sick ones in fact
being aloft helping to stow the foresail again at eight o'clock
this evening. Several of the men belonging to the party to go
aloft to the fore-yard with us chaps and although they are more
in our way than of any use to us, still we tolerate them because
it is a great event for them and helps them to pass the
time. When they are going aloft, they are slow as snails as
they have to hold on so carefully, and tight, whereas we run
aloft being used to it. We are steering N. N. W. and
N. by W. today.
Australis" was giving an illumination this evening but
was not very bright nor very large in extent.
Wednesday Feb 19th 1913
We set the foresail at 3.30 this morning. These icebergs
are getting more numerous. At 9.30 this morning we had to clew
up the foresail and brace the yards as the course was altered
a good many points to escape an iceberg which loomed up suddenly
ahead through the snow squall which was on at the time. About
ten o'clock the upper top foresail was hauled down and at 11.30
the lower topsail was clewed up. At nine o'clock we met the
ice-pack which was very heavy and we steamed alongside it. We
were steering about from E. to N.E according to the shape of
the pack. This was why the topsails had to be taken in as it
brought the wind ahead.
We were alongside the pack all day.
but to-night we steamed away from it as the nights are too dark
to stay close to it while steaming. We passed a tremendous lot
of very pretty icebergs today and this evening. The officers
say that we aught to reach the barrier soon and be at the base
to-morrow night, but as we have had to dodge about around the
icepack we may be later. We are afraid to go into a pack if
we can possibly avoid it we stand a big risk of getting frozen
If it goes well and we have a fair percentage of
luck we will be in about this place at this time next week.
"Homeward Bound" so we
are all feeling pretty happy over it and if everything goes
well we will be happier still next week.
The party from Adelie
Land go down in the hold sometimes now trimming coal and in
exchange for their work, the firemen give them each a bucket
of water from the condenser to wash in otherwise they cannot
have a wash as we are on a very low "whack" of water.
The men belonging to the Adelie Land base are called "The
talent" by us chaps so in future I will speak of them as
Thursday Feb 20th
This morning at turn to (seven
o'clock) our watch rigged the ------ for setting up the main
rigging and at 8 o'clock the other watch started setting up
the rigging and backstays. It is a rather foolish thing to attempt
to set up rigging in such cold latitudes as the wire contracts
when it is cold and expands or stretches in warm weather, consequently
warm weather is the best time for setting up. Rigging set up
now will be quite slack when we get in warm climates again.
- We entered a large ice-pack this morning about 10 oclock and
were plugging through it all day until late in the afternoon
when it got very heavy and very thick so as we could see open
water from the crows-nest we came out of the pack as by staying
in it at night we could not steam and laying still we should
most likely get frozen in there.
We have now about one degree
(25 miles) to go west and about 140 miles south to the base.
We have to reach the ice-barrier, which has been sighted
from the crows-nest with the telescope and then make south alongside
it. We do not expect much pack-ice along the side of the
barrier, and the base is at the southern end of a big bay which
is 120 miles long and was clear of pack-ice last year. It is
supposed that a strong current runs along the side of the barrier
and so keeps the barrier pretty clear of loose ice.
dark to-night we stopped the engines as there were small bergs
all round us and first drifted. Whenever we drifted too close
to a berg we went slow ahead till we were clear of it then stopped
again, and drifted.
Feb 21st 1913
During my trick at the wheel this
morning in the 12 to 4 o'clock watch, the wheel was hard aport
all the time and I was walking up and down on the bridge beside
it and did not have to touch it at all. dawn came about 3.30
when we started steaming again. We went below from 4 to 8 oclock
and during that watch a heavy fog came on, so that a good look-out
had to be kept, and even then in our watch on deck (8 o'clock
to midday) about 8.30 we very nearly collided with a large berg,
though the engines were only going dead slow, but then the fog
was as thick as soup sometimes it being impossible to see much
more than a ship's length ahead .
About 10.30 the fog lifted
and showed us ice all round and close ahead was pack-ice, which
we entered. The pack ice was in large flat lumps or floes but
there was a good deal of room between them most of the time,
although now and then we had to smash our way through, but of
course when entering a thick part the engines are slowed down
to lessen the shock, and are set going full speed when we are
fairly in it.
Feb 22nd 1913
One man in our watch is taken sick
thus leaving only two men as the fourth man was taken from us
and put in the other watch yesterday as one of their men smashed
his hand and can't take a wheel trick. In the 4 to 8 watch this
morning the weather started to get bad, and the wind to blow
causing us to make a lot of leeway which is very bad as we are
in pack-ice and are continually hitting large lumps. We passed
many seals on ice-floes to-day. We came out of the pack at 2
oclock this afternoon and are not sorry. there are many small
bergs about and twice we only missed collision with ice-bergs
by a hairs breadth. The second and third mates mess the men
about when at the wheel and this caused one man to split a small
berg in two by colliding with it. This afternoon us two men
in the watch had to take the wheel three times for an hour during
the 6 hr watch from 12 to 6.
Sunday Feb 23rd 1913
was put in the watch at midnight and he did not like it either,
but in bad weather two men to take wheel was not enough so he
has to take a wheel too. We had a lot of snow and sleet during
the midnight to four o'clock watch, each man when he finished
his hour and twenty minutes wheel would scrape fully half an
inch of snow and ice off his long top coat and hood before he
hung them to dry in the engine room.
During the sailmakers
wheel while the weather was very thick we sighted the "Great
Barrier" We were steering S. W. by W. at the time and we
sighted the " " on the port bow, then swung to start
and followed it along keeping it still on the port bow, The
Barrier is 190 miles long, all ice, but at the N. W. end there
is a little land about 30 miles from it. We were close to the
base at 8 o'clock this morning and at eleven oclock we sighted
a flag which floated from a pole near the camp. After breaking
through a small ice-pack and winding among the ice-floes we
came to the big flow which is about three miles wide and about
six long and runs from the barrier out into the sea and we moored
on to this with ice-anchors. The men from the base were
in line on the floe with dogs and sledges and as the ship came
up to the floe they cheered with a will, and we answered it.
They are all safe, but they only have two dogs left out of nine.
After the ship was moored, we were divided into two gangs, one
took the stores which the shore party had left over, also their
luggage specimens, gear etc. and stowed them in the hold and
the other gang set about watering ship and had to hoist baskets
of ice on to the poop and then lift, drag and lug them to the
snow tank while the "talent" filled the baskets. There
were about four of us hoisting the ice aboard by hand, while
about five men filled baskets and about every six or seven baskets
the talent would get tired, when their mates would believe them
they had by far the easiest job, but we, who had the heaviest
work of the day never got a relief and us chaps had just had
eight hours on deck out of the previous twelve and aught to
have had a six hour watch below, instead of bullocking ice.
If everything had been fair our watch (or gang) should have
been sleeping whilst the talent watered ship. The other watch
were only having their usual watch deck and just had to take
the stores as the sledges arrived, two at a time after been
drawn over the ice for these three miles, so they were spelling
more than working. Well we had tea at six oclock and finished
watering ship at seven. Then while waiting for the last four
sledge loads we (all the sailors) also the firemen and stewards
went on the ice, playing with the two empty sledges and with
the seals and penguins (Emperors). The penguins are comical
fellows to land on the ice they come swimming along underwater
then shoot above the surface into the air and then land
on their bellies about three or four feet in from the edge of
the ice and rise on their feet and stand straight up. They stand
about three feet high then. When moving along the ice they waddle
along like fat old women, and whatever the leader does, the
next do likewise. If the leader flops on his belly and pushes
himself along the ice with his flippers and feet. the rest flop
down too, when they come to the exact spot where the leader
flopped down. We had sport with them when mooring ship as they
crossed the wire rope we were pulling on and by giving a quick
pull we sent the leader flying into the air turning all sorts
of somersaults but the rest crossed over too and of course received
the same treatment.
When taking to the water they waddle
down near the edge where they flop on their bellies and slide
over the edge and dive under water where they are as quick as
fish. We all had great fun catching them, as they are strong,
and would pull us along the ice. We had fun sledging one another
along the ice also the seals gave us sport. One man would sneak
up and give a seal a poke with his finger when the seal would
raise his head and snarl and make a dive towards the sea when
we would surround him and drive him towards one of the stewards
or the cook, who would then have to run to get out of the seals
We got away from here at 8.30 as if we stayed over-night
we might not be able to go away for twelve-months.
had been on duty all day and then had to be on watch for eight
hours out of the following twelve, so we had to take charge
of the deck and put the ship in sea-going order before we went
off duty at midnight. We were as stiff as ramrods from the heavy
dragging, lifting and hauling up of ice baskets but we finished
off about ten oclock then only had to do the usual sea-watch
duties such as lookout, steer etc. etc. till midnight
when we went below. Off duty at last for four hours.
(side-note in the margin)
I posted a letter here today to
Mister Hazel it will have an impress stamp on it of the expedition.
The Tasmanian gov -anted it. is a good ----
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