In Antarctica (iv)
Bert Clive Burnell
Lincoln - Diary
from SY Aurora
page 5 - Feb 15th 1913 / Feb 23rd 1913
1 - Hobart to Antarctica | 2 - in Antarctica (i) | 3 - in Antarctica (ii) | 4 - in Antarctica (iii) | This Page - 5 - in Antarctica (iv) | 6 - Homeward Bound
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 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?
Saturday Feb 15th 1913
We carried 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.
The 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.
Tuesday Feb 18th 1913
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.
The "Aurora 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 in there.
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 such.
Thursday Feb 20th 1913
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.
After 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.
Friday 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.
Saturday 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
Sailmaker 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 way.
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.
Our watch 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
(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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