New Zealand and Arrival Antarctica

27th, 2012
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When Discovery arrived in Lyttelton harbour on the 29th of November 1901 she had sailed over 7,000 miles from Capetown at an average speed of about 8.5 mph, or in nautical terms about 7.5 knots. However during the voyage she made a number of record daily runs, the best being 223 nautical miles or about 9.3 knots, which means that her headway during the times she encountered bad weather must have been reduced to little more than walking pace.

The welcome she and her crew received on arrival was both generous and curious. Generous because that’s what New Zealanders are like, curious because her reasons for calling at the port, apart from the voyage repairs that had to be done, were unlike any ship that had called before. She was a modern equipped exploration ship and, as such, the small community was intrigued by her construction and equipment.

The repairs that had to be done to the hull in order to stop the leaks were carried out at a furious rate, both by the crew and shore contractors. The detail of those repairs and overhaul was such that it would blunt the flow of this story if it were to be included. Suffice it to say that all was completed by Christmas Eve 1901 when she sailed from Lyttelton to call briefly at Port Chalmers in Dunedin to load the maximum of coal that she could take before departing for Antarctic waters.

The first iceberg was sighted on the 2nd of January 1902, then, under engine power and sail she slipped through a 270 mile belt of pack-ice in just 5 days.

First Discovery anchored in Robertson Bay where there was a hut and stores left by a previous expedition some time before. Letters were left to be collected by her relief ship. She resumed her voyage of discovery and on the 21st of January 1902 turned East to follow Ross’s Great Barrier Reef where her scientists did some survey work before she turned Westward again on the 1st of February. Her purpose then was to set up winter quarters in a small ice-filled bay, which became known as Winter Harbour and was located at the head of the McMurdo Sound, near the tip of Ross Island. Securely berthed using her anchors Discovery became frozen in on the 8th of February 1902. A hut was built on solid ground that became known as Hut Point and the ship herself was made ready for wintering.

Little did Scott and his crew realise that the intention to spend one winter at that location would not come to pass. Further hardships awaited them and the stories of these have been told in many volumes, including Scott’s own in 1905. I diversify. The next part of this story will attempt to give the reader an indication of what did happen after the 8th of February 1902.

Captain John:

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