The Aurora in pack ice
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.
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 ?guessed?
- Page 6 - Homeward Bound
Monday Feb 24th 1913 "Homeward
The engines have been pounding away
full speed since we left the base. We are winding among scattered
pack-ice and icebergs but not hitting ice very much which is
a good job seeing the pace we are doing (about eight knots).
We came on deck again at four oclock and started working about
the deck at five and everything was covered with ice and snow
making it cold for the hands and feet.
We are now in pretty
open water although there are many bergs about. A strong breeze
is blowing on the starboard beam and it is pretty cold, the
temperature is about 20°. We are steering from N. E. 1/2
E. to N. by E 1/2 E. according as the compasses dictate. At
two o'clock this afternoon we entered the big ice-pack where
we came through a few days ago. We expect to get through it
in about 24 hours. We are pounding smashing and grinding away
now at the huge lumps to "beat the band" making the
old ship have a rough time of it. It is marvellous how she stands
it without getting holes knocked in her.
Tuesday Feb 25th 1913
watch came on deck at midnight to keep the 12 watch and it was
sailmakers first wheel. he started colliding with every piece
of ice about and the second mate whistled and ordered another
man to take the wheel as the sailmaker could not steer. The
weather was fine and the sea like glass and there was plenty
of room in between the pack-ice at the time.
It is considered
a disgrace for a man to be turned away from the wheel and especially
so for a man like "sails" who says he has been at
sea for over 21 years. Then about one o'clock the standard compass
binnacle lamps needed trimming and "sails" trimmed
them and when he put them back he did not put the fastenings
in place with the result that one lamp fell out and smashed
up. Then at three oclock the sailmaker had to strike six bells
and he only struck two which is the number for one o'clock.
The total result for a "four hour watch" "Sailmaker"
who claims to be an old shell-back "in disguise three times".
He is nothing but an old blather-skiter who has done all his
whaling voyages to Arctic and Antarctic regions and other voyages
to all other parts of the world in a Dundee sail-loft, and there
is not an A.B. in the forecastle who could not do sail-making
quite as good as him, and he says he served five years to learn
his trade. We are all poking fun at him now. About 1.30 we ran
into heavier and much thicker pack-ice and the ship was continually
having to smash a way through and the noise and bumping and
grinding was something awful but we got through at ---- and
about six o'clock this morning we saw clear out of the pack
and put the engines full speed. The wind has been on the starboard
bow all day but tonight it is on the port quarter and tomorrow
we are supposed to be in "trade winds" then up will
go our sails. We are supposed to reach Hobart on March 1---.
To-day we sighted something black on an ice-berg and we went
to investigate, and found that it was dirt, the ice-berg having
evidently come from some glacier. We steamed all round the berg
and saw many seams in it of coloured ice, stained by the ground
at the sides of the glacier. It was a very pretty sight indeed.
The black spot which we saw at a distance looked just like a
hut on the berg and so caused considerable excitement.
had our photos taken in groups and the whole lot "explorers"
and ship's company all to-gether and also cinematograph pictures
were taken just before dinner-time.
We have been taking down
derricks, booms etc. to-day and stowing them in the hold as
the ship is getting empty of coal and we cannot have all the
weight high up and no ballast in her so we take everything heavy
down and put it for ballast in the hold so that she will not
roll so much. Last year coming back empty from the Antarctic
she was rolling from 45° degrees to starboard to 45°
to port and the captain never thought she would reach Hobart
but that she would capsize. We are steering N E by E.
Wednesday Feb 26th 1913
The weather continues fairly fine and the sea smooth although
we have occasional show squalls and sometimes sleet.
morning there were many icebergs around us. The wind is still
on the port quarter and the other watch and "talent"
set the upper and lower topsails about 10 oclock this morning
the ship then did about seven knots.
Everybody has been busy
this last two days skinning "emperor" penguins and
getting the skins ready for stuffing and the decks forward are
a nice state every day. The Emperor are said to be worth about
£3 apiece when stuffed and mounted in a glass case. I did not
trouble to get any of them but since leaving Gausberg I wish
I had got one skin for a muff. Things are very quiet now as
everyone among the "talent" are getting ready for
home and the seamen and fireman aer all happy and good tempered
because the ship is "Homeward Bound" and if everything
goes well we expect to be in Hobart about the 16th of march.
The "Aurora Australis" is giving us an illumination
again to-night although we have a bright moonlight.
are getting rarer this afternoon and night and those we see
aer getting very small so I suppose we will soon be clear of
the m altogether.
Feb 27th 1913
When we came on deck at midnight
we found that the wind had shifted and was now on the port bow.
I had the first trick at the wheel and when I relieved I found
that the yards were braced sharp up and the ship was steering
full and by and she was laying
about E N E. which was a point to leeward of her course. in
about an hours time the wind shifted still another point ahead.
We ahd the 4-8 watch below and on coming on deck at 8 bells
after breakfast found that she was still going
"full and by" and laying
east. About ten oclock the wind shifting more to east we furled
and stowed the sails and steamed along our old course N E by
We stopped at midday and took a sounding getting 2300
fathoms of water. The day has been very fine and warm and we
are getting well north of ice now being today in 58° Lat
South. The "Aurora Australis" is giving another illumination
tonight starting at 9.30.
When we were in the pack ice-field
going from Adelie Land to Gausberg the full moon rose about
9 o'clock and it still rises bright at about nine although it
is in its last quarter.
That is because we are making to
the north east.
Feb 28th 1913
This morning at six oclock there
was an iceberg away astern and the mate said to me to take your
last look at the ice and I did so but although we did not see
ice all day still in the 7 to 8 dog-watch we sighted another
small berg away on the port bow. To-day the wind was on the
starboard bow and the other watch set the fore-top mast staysail
which remained on all day.
We were steering E.N.E. all day.
The wind was freshening up all day till evening when a fairly
strong gale was blowing. In the 7-8 oclock dogwatch the wind
hauled round dead ahead so the fore-top mast staysail had to
be hauled down and stowed. The ship was diving about a lot also
rolling as there was a cross-swell on.
The talent are nearly
all down with sea-sickness they don't think of watch on deck
or watch below now but only lying in their bunks they are mostly
fine weather sailors, Sailors ha! ha!
We took another sounding
at midday today and got bottom at 2,330 fathoms and lost the
diver and a couple of hundred fathoms of wire when heaving it
The ice that has been all over the rigging etc. since
the gale that blew when we were in the pack-ice has all disappeared.
Saturday March 1st 1913
We are now about 54° South latitude and about 102°
east longitude. Hobart is in 147° E. long. This morning
at 11 oclock we headed the ship due east and started to run
our easting. We had the wind behind us and set the square sails
the fore and aft sails being no good when the wind is aft.
We were bowling along all day and the wind was freshening till
this evening we were doing about 10 knots. At eight oclock tonight
as we relieved water, both watches took in furled and stowed
the upper topsail . It was inky black and each man had to feel
his way about aloft as it was too dark to see. The (talents)
watch on deck, with the exception of two old chaps did not attempt
to help us at the down------- buntlines etc. It was too rough
for them to come on deck they might get some spray on them.
Only the sailors with the chief and third mates went aloft to
stow the sail. Some of the talent used to make a great show
of going aloft with us on to the fore-yard when the ship was
among the ice and the sea was smooth, but now it is different
they, most of them are frightened to come on the main deck let
alone go aloft, but one good thing is that now aloft in the
dark every-man there knows what to do and does it whereas if
the talent were there they would only be in the way I expect
most of the time.
I had the first wheel this morning at
four oclock. The sea which was very high last night had moderated
a lot and the wind had also gone down some. At six oclock we
set the upper-topsail again the talent watch on deck turned
out of their bunks and gave us a hand on the topsail halyards.
The ship then started doing about 10 knots again. The Hobart
girls have hold of the tow-rope and the ship is walking away
fine for Hobart. This afternoon the wind fell a lot and
was inclined to shift causing much bracing the yards. We had
been steering E.S.E. since midday but later on we steered E
by S a heavy swell started up during the afternoon and being
on the port quarter caused us occasionally to roll very heavily.
To night at eight oclock the wind was only about one point abaft
the beam so was almost due north and inclined to ---- round
ahead. Our watch below from eight to twelve (midnight).
today Mr. Wild of Shackleton's Exp and leader of the second
landing party in this expedition has been giving us chaps jerseys,
caps, mitts etc. etc. which he will have no further use for
but which will be very handy to us. I got a pair of Jaeger mitts
with W on them they are good warm ones.
March 3rd 1913
When we came on deck at midnight we found
that the yards were braced sharp up and the ship was sailing
full & by but during the watch the wind shifted more to
the north all the time she could lay up to her course E. 3/4
During the day the course was shifted to E. S.E. and the
wind was shifting towards west all the time causing us to have
a job bracing the yards very frequently sometimes getting pretty
wet whilst doing it. The sea has been running pretty high all
day and to-night the wind is dead fair and the yards braced
square running for Hobart for all we are worth we are now between
1400 & 1600 miles off Hobart.
The talent are not much
is evidence this last two or three days the weather is too wet
and boisterous for them so they stay in bunk. The weather is
wetter here than in the Antarctic as there is no rain only snow,
but here we are getting plenty of rain. We have been steering
E.S.E all day and have had the three square sails set too &
engines going full speed.
Tuesday March 4th 1913
morning the weather was a little finer but we are getting some
very heavy squalls, at times accompanied by much rain and sleet
and snow, but the weather does not cause us much inconvenience
as we are running before it. The course today was E. 3/4 S.
but during my wheel the captain altered it to E 1/2 N so that
in a day or two we should have a bit warmer and finer weather
than at present as we work to the northwards into warmer latitudes.
The ship did 202 miles run to-day which is not bad for her because
although the wind is fair still in the ---- seas she pitches
and rolls a good deal and that detracts from her speed as she
propeller sometimes almost stops and at other times is racing
according as the ship is on a sea. The ship being pretty empty
and light caused her to be pretty lively and her pitching is
often that much that when her bows are in the air her decks
having a slope of about 25° and when she makes up her mind
to have a good roll she often goes to 30° and 35°
out of perpendicular on either side so you can guess things
are very uncertain at meal times. To-night there is no "Aurora"
showing which is the first time for about a week that it has
missed giving us an illumination and about one oclock this morning
it was a fine sight to see although the prevailing colour always
seems to be pale green. Although early this morning was pretty
dark when the Aurora came on strong there was enough light from
it to make the moonlight insignificant. "You will see by
the above that in this diary there is early morning and night
spoken off. viz. from 6 to 12 at evening I call nigh at 12 to
12 midday I call morning as a day is from midnight to following
midnight. To-night the squalls are as black as ink and when
at the wheel and a squall is on the ship only the binnacle and
compass can be seen as the binnacle lamps light these up.
Wednesday March 5th 1913
The wind has moderated a lot today consequently the sea
is smoother. We are still under the foresail lower and upper
topsails as well as the steam, but are now only doing about
eight knots during this morning. We are still steering easterly
the course being E 1/2 N this morning.
When the ships position
was worked out at midday we were in 51° 12" south
latitude but I did not hear what the longitude was only that
we are about 900 miles from Hobart, and that the run for the
preceding 24 hours was 195 miles.
The wind this afternoon
and tonight is very light and almost abeam on the port side,
the course having been altered to NE. 1/4 E. during the
afternoon, and the watch on deck clewed up the foresail but
did not make it fast viz, stow it.
This sail is generally
clewed up in very light winds as it knocks more out of the sail
flopping about against the rigging than is worth the good it
There is a fair swell on tonight and not having a wind
pressure on the sails to steady her, the ship is inclined to
We had another fine "Aurora" tonight
showing the arc of a circle for about six points long across
the sky with the stream shooting up from it and flickering in
all directions. It started in the S.E. and spread over to SW.
before the streamers started out from it.
Thursday March 6th 1913
When we came on deck at 4 oclock this morning we found---
foresail set again the wind having freshened . During the day
the wind which was abeam gradually shifted round to the port
bow, but the ship could lay on her course right enough
with the yards braced sharp up the course being N.E. by 1/2
The captain has caused the port main water tank
which was nearly empty to be filled with sae-water for ballast
as the ship is getting lighter --- the while as the coal is
used. This afternoon our watch was putting in baulks of timber
between the sides of the tanks and the ship's sides for shores
to chock the tanks from shifting when she rolls heavy. Usually
she has had a lot of coal in the place between. but now the
--- is used and the new shores are to make sure of the
tanks not shifting if the old shores are by any means rotten.
The wind has gradually shifted back to the beam tonight
and is blowing a nice strong breeze which is lifting us along.
Friday March 7th 1913
We started to soogie-moogie the ship to day. Our watch did
all the white paint work under the forecastle-head in the 8-12
watch this morning. We want the ship to look a bit clean when
she gets in to Hobart which will probably be Wednesday next.
When we get there Mr. Eitel the secretary of the expedition
goes ashore to send away the news by cable (the ship is under
cable contract with different newspapers in London) and the
ship puts off again until the Thursday --- or Friday. That clause
is in the contract to prevent the news getting about Hobart
by people from different the parties when they go ashore.
The wind and the course are still same. The temperature today
at midday was 48°. The weather is fairly good, smooth seas
with occasional light rain squalls.
Saturday March 8th 1913
We have had fine weather today the wind on port bow and the
yards braced sharp up. The ship lay course which was N.E by
1/4 E. We scrub the forecastle out this afternoon and it was
a hard job to get the floor white although we used soda and
soft soap. This is only the second time it has been washed out
since we left Hobart on Boxing Day. We do not often get time
to scrub it out and the weather was too cold down south.
Sunday March 9th 1913
The wind was very light to-day and we clewed up the sails.
The wind was very shifty and we were bracing the yards every
now and then. We were not set to work today only stand by and
brace this makes several Sundays we have had free since I joined
the ship. I have been busy all day making a new canvas bag.
I had four yards of canvas and as my other bag will not be big
enough to hold all of my clothes I made the canvas into a bigger
bag. I was glad of the chance today to do something for myself.
At 7 o'clock to night the other watch made fast all the sails
as the wind had hauled ahead.
Monday March 10th 1913
We started cleaning the ship today. I led off soogeeing
the jibboom from the extreme end working inboard. We have had
drizzling rain, nearly all day and tonight.
We expect to
get to Hobart about Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday March 11th 1913
The who relieved the wheel this morning at four oclock was only
there about 10 minutes when he fell asleep and allowed the ship
to go 8 points off the course and the mate who was on watch
flew to the compass like a paper man in a gale of wind, and
then he called for another man to take the wheel. The wind is
still ahead and a heavy sea has been running all night and today.
This weather will prevent us getting into Hobart as soon as
we otherwise would have.
Wednesday March 12th
wind shifted round on to the port beam and we set the lower
topsail and the foresail and the ship could lay on her course
which was N E by E 1/2 E. but later on in fact in the dog watch
7-8 the wind hauled more ahead again and we steered "full
and bye". During the 8-12 watch the wind shifted still
more ahead when the other watch who were on deck had to steer "by
the wind". The captain wrote in his night-order book "To
be called if the wind shifts to N E by N during the night"
but the wind shifted so much ahead about ten oclock that the
sails were flapping when the ship headed east. but the third
mate did not call the captain as his brother officers would
make him wear the Jonah medal which is a tiny disc and is to
be worn by the one who is on watch and gets a head wind or bad
weather. He made the man at the wheel keep her so close to the
wind that the sails were full aback of course the engines were
going ahead but the sails stopped the ships way a lot. When
the second mate came on deck at 12 oclock (midnight) I relieved
the wheel and was given by the wind.
Thursday March 13th 1913
When I took the wheel at midnight the sails were full aback
and although the second mate did not say anything I put the
helm up to get some wind on the right side of the sails thinking
of course that the second mate had not noticed her aback as
the night was very dark. But when I got her "by the wind"
he made me bring her up again until she was flat aback. She
was heading then E. by N. During my trick at the wheel I amused
myself greatly by keeping her aback for a long time, when the
pressure against the propeller would cause the engines to go
slow, then on the fly I would get the wind on the proper side
of the sails when she would gather way and send along thus causing
the propeller to buzz round at three times the speed and I myself
would fetch her aback again when the engines would go slower.
I would laugh away to myself thinking how the donkeyman (Third
engineer) would think the engines had gone cazy and would come
"O. Cooley Chrrrist" what's
oop wi' her of course I knew he would not understand
the little game. The game between the 3rd and 2nd mates was
to keep the sails and not call the captain till the mate came
on deck at 4 o'clock when he would have to do it and he would
think he was "Jonah" and the other two would give
him the "Jonah" medal.
About 4.30 the watch made
fast the sails and the mate is Jonah. Really it is the 3rd mate.
The wind soon shifted again as by nine oclock it was abeam again
and at 10.30 it was on the port quarter when we loosed the upper
and lower topsails and the foresail and set them, when the ship
started buzzing along.
Tonight at 7.30 there was great excitement
among the talent when the man on lookout reported a light on
the port bow.
It was a revolving light at the South West
Cape. Tasmania. During the 8-12 watch I sighted and reported
a piece of rock on land ahead but the 3rd mate did not answer
and we went very close to it indeed (and the captain asked me
why I did not report it, and of course I told him because I
had already reported it 20 minutes before. You see the 3rd mate
would have liked to put the blame on to me.. but the man at
the wheel and two others had me report it so he fell in that
We entered the heads of Hobart or rather
20-30 miles from Hobart early this morning and steamed
up to Port Esperance and landed Mr. Eitel, the Dane and myself
pulled the boat while the mate steered. We were told about Scott's
death, it was the first we had heard about it. We had to land
Eitel so that he could send news to London papers, 24 hours
before anyone landed in Hobart from the Aurora. as she was under
After landing Eitel we went outside
again till next day.
Saturday March 15
the heads early this morning and proceeded right up to Hobart
and moored the ship by eight oclock. Our beards greatly amused
the girls etc. in Hobart until we got shaved. While walking
up the street to the barber's our faces and beards proclaimed
us as belonging to the Aurora, and everyone would give us a
smile or a nod and some would come and talk to us and altogether
we were made much of, after our voyage to the