Bert Clive Burnell Lincoln
- Diary from SY Aurora
page 6 - Feb 24th 1913 / Mar 15th 1913
1 - Hobart to Antarctica | 2 - in Antarctica (i) | 3 - in Antarctica (ii) | 4 - in Antarctica (iii) | 5 - in Antarctica (iv) | This Page - 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?
Monday Feb 24th 1913 "Homeward Bound"
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
Our 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.
We 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.
This 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 Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£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.
The icebergs are getting rarer this afternoon and night and those we see are getting very small so I suppose we will soon be clear of the m altogether.
Thursday 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 E.
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.
Friday 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 in.
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.
Sunday March 2nd
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).
Oh 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.
Monday 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 S.
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
This 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 does.
There is a fair swell on tonight and not having a wind pressure on the sails to steady her, the ship is inclined to roll some.
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 E today.
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
This weather will prevent us getting into Hobart as soon as we otherwise would have.
Wednesday March 12th
The 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 crazy 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 time.
Friday March 14th 1913
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 cable contract.
After landing Eitel we went outside again till next day.
Saturday March 15
We re-entered 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 Antarctic.
Biographical information - I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men
involved. Any further information or pictures visitors may have is gratefully
received. Please email
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?