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On the Polar Star 





















" I ^HE object of the expedition of the Polar Star was to sail 
-*- as far to the north as possible along some coast-line, 
and then to travel on sledges towards the Pole from the 
place where the winter had been passed. The Pole was not 
reached, but the sledge expedition, led by Commander Cagni, 
pushed on to a latitude which no man had previously attained, 
and proved that with determination and sturdy men, and a 
number of well-selected dogs, the frozen Arctic Ocean can actually 
be crossed to the highest latitude. 

The practical use of Polar expeditions has often been 
discussed. If only the moral advantage to be derived from 
these expeditions be considered, I believe that it would suffice 
to compensate for the sacrifices they demand. As men who 
surmount difficulties in their daily struggles feel themselves 
strengthened for an encounter with still greater difficulties, so 
should also a nation feel itself still more encouraged and urged 
by the success won by its sons, to persevere in striving for its 
greatness and prosperity. 

Our expedition was composed of Italians and Norwegians. 
The willing and disinterested assistance of Captain Evensen, and 
of the Norwegians, in navigating in the midst of ice, brought the 
Polar Star to the highest latitude in the north of Europe hitherto 
attained by a ship following a coast-line. The well-tried courage, 

viii Introduction 

the steadfast perseverance, the moral and physical endurance 
of every sort of privation and hardship shown by the Italians 
composing the sledge expedition under Commander Cagni, has won 
for Italy the first place among the nations which have approached 
nearest to the Pole. 

Italians and Norwegians behaved throughout this voyage as 
though the crew were composed of one nationality. I had comrades 
with me, rather than subordinates. I express, therefore, my 
gratitude towards all, since to their harmonious co-operation is 
due the success of my expedition ; and I express the same 
gratitude to the memory of the three brave men who perished 
whilst on the sledge expedition. Honour to those who sacrificed 
their young lives in pursuit of a noble idea, and may my ad- 
miration, as well as that of their comrades on board the Polar 
Star and of the whole civilised world, afford some consolation 
to their afflicted families. 

As conclusion of this introduction, I feel it my duty to thank 
His Excellency the Italian Minister of Marine, Vice-Admiral 
Morin, for having allowed me to have a great part of my work 
executed in the Royal Hydrographical Institution, and all those 
who have helped to compile the narrative and scientific portions : 
Commander Cagni, Dr. Cavalli, A. Alessio, and G. Schoch 
(Lieutenants in the Royal Navy), Professors Rizzo, Aimonetti, 
Palazzo, Cappa, Camerano, Salvadori, Pollonera, Giglio-Tos, 
Nobili, Parona, Mattirolo, Belli, Spezia, Colomba, Piolti, Ermanno 
Ferrero, Dr. Filippo de Filippi, and the Cavaliere Uffiziale 
Vittorio Sella. 

November, 1902. 


THE temperature is given in Centigrade scale. The miles are 
geographical miles, or 6,080 feet. The tracks, the bearings, the 
direction of the winds and currents, are in the true meridian when 
not otherwise indicated. 














xii Contents 

















INDEX '. At End of Volume 



1. H.R.H. Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi . . . Frontispiece 

2. The Polar Star .............. 32 

3. Capes Forbes, Stephens, and Grant (Alexandra Land) ...... 64 

4. The Polar Star under the first ice pressure in British Channel . ... 76 

5. The camp in autumn . . . . . . . . . . . .136 

6. Our camp from the west ............ 160 

7. Returning from hunting 184 

8. Position of the ship in the Bay of Teplitz, in March, 1900 ..... 224 

9. View of the Bay of Teplitz, July 1 5th, 1900 296 

10. We liberate the ship with mines . 320 

11. Meeting between 1' Ilertha and the Polar Star in the Bay of Hammerfest . . 344 


I. Position of the mines 308 



I. Commander C. J. Phipps ............ 4 

2. Commander W. E. Parry ............ 5 

3. The attempt to reach the Pole W. E. Parry, 1827 7 

4. Commander A. H. Markham ........... 8 

5- Captain J. B. Lockwood ........ 9 

6. Professor Fridtjof Nansen ............ 1 1 

7. Nansen and Johansen in the Arctic, 1895 . . 13 

8. To the unknown goal ............. 17 

9. Leaving Europe ........... . . 23 

10. The Polar Star at Larvik 25 

11. Longitudinal section of the Polar Star 26 

12. Plan of the deck 26 

13. Transverse section of the officers' quarters ...... .27 

14. The crew of the Polar Star 29 

15. In the port of Christiania 31 

16. At Tromso 33 

17. We overtake a steamer in the White Sea 34 

xiv Illustrations in the Text 

18. At Solombol 35 

19. The kennels at Archangel 37 

20. Alexander Ivanov Trontheim 39 

21. Siberian dogs 4 1 

22. Kennels on board 43 

23. Embarkation of the dogs on the Polar Star 45 

24. The last farewell 47 

25. Puzzled ! 54 

26. The Polar Star meets the first ice (looking forward) 55 

27. The Polar Star meets the first ice (looking aft) 57 

28. Cape Flora and Cape Gertrude, on Northbrook Island : seen from the south . . 59 

29. The huts left by Jackson's expedition . . . . . . . . .61 

30. In Nightingale Sound Bell, Mabel, and Bruce Islands 63 

31. A walrus hoisted on board .... 65 

32. Bates Sound Cape Flora in the distance ......... 67 

33. In open water 73 

34. The ice to the north of Bruce Island 75 

35. The Polar Star nipped by the ice (side view) 77 

36. The Polar Star nipped by the ice (seen from the stern) 79 

37. The dogs on the ice 81 

38. Our comrades come back to the ship 83 

39. The first Arctic bear 85 

40. Dramatis persons . 87 

41. We force our way through the ice 88 

42. Waiting for clear weather near Maria Elizabeth Island 89 

43. Cape Fligely, from the north-west 91 

44. In training ............... 95 

45. Cape Fligely, seen from the north, near the coast 97 

46. Disembarking in the Bay of Teplitz 99 

47. Cape Germania, seen from the north-east 101 

48. Cape Saulen, seen from the south-east 103 

49. The ice-field in Teplitz Bay, with the channel cut in it by the Polar Star . . 104 

50. The ship in Teplitz Bay 105 

51. A Polar bear 107 

52. The end of the chase 109 

53. Kennels on the ice in 

54. Bringing the dogs into the kennels 113 

55. Training the dogs 114 

56. An excursion on Prince Rudolph Island 115 

57. Typical ice-cliff of the coast of Prince Rudolph Island 117 

58. Our position : a distant view 123 

59. Lanaing the stores while the ship is nipped by the ice 125 

60. One of the two field-tents which fanned the interior of the hut . . . .127 

61. How the hut was constructed . . . . . . . . . . .129 

62. The Polar Star after the ice pressure 131 

63. Vertical section of the hut 133 

64. Plan of the hut 133 

65. Framework of the hut 133 

66. The kennels being dragged up on the beach 134 

67. The entrance to the tent 136 

Illustrations in the Text xv 


68. Ivory gulls 

69. Under repair . . ........... 144 

70. Landing the coal ........ 145 

71. The leak mended 146 

72. The ship abandoned 147 

73. Interior of the tent 149 

74. The kennels during the summer . . . . . . . . . . .150 

75. The kennels after the snowstorm 151 

76. The cage for the instruments during summer 152 

77. The cage protected from the drift by canvas screens 153 

78. The first fall of snow . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 

79. A view forward . 161 

80. In the sailors' tent 163 

81. Dr. Cavalli in the tent 166 

82. The hut by moonlight 169 

83. Our Christmas dinner . . . . . . . . . . . . -'71 

84. Interior of the tent 179 

85. Dr. Cavalli prepares the rations . . . 181 

86. A kayak 183 

87. A sledge 183 

88. A tent 185 

89. A sleeping-bag 186 

90. Lamp and cooking-stove 187 

91. The door of the tent after the storm .......... 189 

92. The ship after the storm 191 

93- The porch of the hut buried in snow . . . . . . . . .192 

94. A typical team 199 

95. Entrance to our tent 201 

96. The magnetic box 203 

97. Dogs in front of the tent . 205 

98. A group of our friends 207 

99. Our camp in the spring of 1900 ....... ... 209 

100. The sledges on their way to Cape Rohlfs 211 

101. The sledge expedition ready for departure 212 

102. The sledge expedition crossing the pack -213 

103. Grasso. the dog given by Dr. Nansen . . . . .214 

104. A prize ... 221 

105. A sentry! 223 

106. Captain Evensen . . ....... 227 

107. Cape Fligely, as seen from the highest point of the island ..... 229 

1 08. The hut at Cape Fligely 231 

109. The Polar pack .... 233 

HO. Skinning a bear .......... ... 235 

in. Overhauling the sledges 243 

112. Lieutenant Querini, the engineer Stokken, and the guide Oilier . 245 

113. The Norwegian Hans 2 47 

114- A Polar bear -249 

115. Near Cape Fligely 2 5' 

116. The ship and hut, seen from the west 

117. Rocks of Cape Siiulen 2 55 

xvi Illustrations in the Text 


1 1 8. Another view of the rocks 257 

119. Travelling over soft snow 259 

1 20. Arrival of Cagni 265 

121. A friendly pair 271 

122. Equipment of the third detachment 273 

123. The names by which we called them 274 

124. Messicano 275 

125. Sacripante and Teresa 277 

126. Moro 278 

127. Piccin 279 

128. Orlando 281 

129. Pantalone 283 

130. Dogs brought back to Italy ... ......... 284 

131. Hard at work ... 290 

132. The hut during summer 291 

133. The siesta 292 

134. Commander Cagni taking observations 293 

135. The magnetic box fallen in the water .......... 294 

136. The magnetic box in peril ............ 295 

137. Out shooting 296 

138. Bringing the magnetic box to land .......... 297 

139. The return from Cape Auk 297 

140. On duty 302 

141. Position of the ship ............. 303 

142. Canal taking water to the ship 305 

143. The canal opening at the poop 307 

144. Gull (Stercorarhis parasilicus} ... ........ 309 

145. Return from shooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311 

146. Laying the mines in the ice . 312 

147. A mirror of water alongside ........... 313 

148. Getting out a piece of ice ............ 314 

149. The Polar Star righting herself . . . 315 

150. Making a canal to liberate the ship 317 

151. Ready to return 319 

152. Leaving the Bay of Teplitz 321 

153. One of our difficulties 327 

154. Our last glimpse of Cape Saulen 328 

155- Cape Auk and Cape Brorok ............ 329 

156. The ice in British Channel ............ 330 

157. A white dolphin . . 331 

158. Against an iceberg 333 

159. The drift in British Channel . 335 

160. TLe dogs on their way home . . . . . . . . . . . 337 

161. On our way towards Europe 339 

162. Our arrival at Tromso 343 

Plan of the Expedition 

VOL. I. 



THE Arctic expeditions which have had as their sole object the 
reaching of the North Pole, on account of the difficulties 
of such an undertaking, and the very small advantages to be 
derived from it, have been few. Since the seventeenth short History of 

Arctic Voyages 

century the English have attempted to penetrate to towards the Pole, 
the far east by advancing towards the north in the Arctic 
Ocean. The voyages of Henry Hudson were followed by others 
which are not deserving of notice, until 1773, when the British 
Government sent Commander C. J. Phipps, with the ships Racehorse 
and Carcars, expressly for the purpose of reaching the Pole. Passing 
to the north of Spitzbergen, Phipps was stopped by ice in the latitude 
of 80 48'; and though some captains of whalers attained the latitude 
of 81 30' with sailing ships, and though in 1868 Baron Nordenskiftld 
with the steamer Sophia went so far as 81 42' in the same direction, 
these attempts only proved that, even with the help of steam, ships 
could not advance into the ice of the Arctic Ocean far away from land. 
But although ships were stopped by the ice, might not an attempt 
be made to cross it with sledges ? Commander Parry, R.N., sailed on 
board the Hecla, which he left in June, 1827, in Treurenberg Bay, on 
the northern coast of Spitzbergen. With two launches built so as 
to serve as sledges, three officers, twenty-four men, and provisions 
for seventy-one days, he sailed north, and then drew his boats over 

4 On- the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

the ice-fields. These did not form, as had been reported, a level plain 
without obstacles. They were, on the contrary, crossed by ridges 
of ice, over which the boats had to be hauled with ropes, and 
intersected by numerous channels on which the boats had to 
be launched, to be drawn up again on the opposite shore, and 
thus had to be unloaded and loaded. As the snow was 


softened by the high temperature, the sailors sank in it up to 
their waists. 

Although the ground covered each day was much less than 
had been anticipated, Parry continued to push on towards the 
north, hoping that his difficulties might diminish according as he 
went farther ; but as the state of the ice did not change, and as, 

Plan of the Expedition 5 

moreover, it drifted every day as much as four miles to the south, 
thirty-six days after his departure, when in the latitude of 82 45', 
he gave the order to return. For many years this was the 
highest latitude ever attained by man, and Parry's attempt showed 


the difficulty, especially during summer, of travelling with sledges 
over the ice of the Polar Ocean. 1 

1 Commander Parry was sixty-one days absent from his ship, from June 2ist 
to August 2 ist. He passed thirteen days in the boats and forty-eight on the ice. 
The distance in a straight line from Treurenberg Bay (79 55' N. lat. by 16 48' E. 
long.) to the most northern point reached (82 45' N. lat. by 19 25' K. long.) is 
172 miles. 

6 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

In 1875 the English Admiralty dispatched for the third time an 
expedition to the North Pole. The preceding voyages had shown 
that it was as difficult to advance with ships as with sledges. It was 
hoped that by penetrating into the basin lying between Greenland 
and America, it would be possible to sail along some coast-line up to 
the 8jrd or 84th parallel, where it would winter, and then advance 
towards the Pole on sledges in the following spring. 

The expedition Jed by Commander Nares was composed of two 
ships, the Alert and the Discovery, one of which was to push as far as 
possible to the north in the above-mentioned basin, whilst the other 
should take shelter in some safe anchorage, and bring home the crews 
in case the former met with any mishap. The ships passed by Smith 
Sound into Kennedy Channel, and reached Lady Franklin Bay. The 
Discovery was left there at 81 44', whilst the Alert, entering Robeson 
Channel, reached the latitude of 82 27' off Grant Land. The excur- 
sions made during the autumn to discover the direction of the coast 
ascertained that it trended towards the west, and thus took away all 
hope of utilising it to establish depots for the expedition towards 
the Pole. 

In the following spring, however, Nares dispatched towards the 
north Commander A. H. Markham, with an officer, eighteen men, 
three sledges, and provisions for seventy days. He could only 
advance slowly and laboriously, as it was necessary to return over 
the same road several times in order to transport the heavy loads. 
After very great efforts he reached the latitude of 83 20', where 
he was obliged to stop on account of the fatigue of his men, among 
whom had also appeared some cases of scurvy. On his returning to 
the ship the situation was still more difficult. To the weight of the 
baggage was added that of the sick, who had to be carried on the 
sledges, and the expedition would hardly have succeeded in reaching 

Plan of the Expedition 7 

the Alert if a man had not volunteered to go forward to seek for 


help. The latitude reached by Parry was thus slightly exceeded, by 
a different road, although the advance had been carried out in 
the most favourable months. 1 

A few years later, in 1882, the United States succeeded in bearing 
away from England the Polar record, which had been jealously guarded 


for so many years. During the sojourn in Lady Franklin Bay of the 
expedition led by Lieutenant A. W. Greely for scientific purposes, 
Captain J. B. Lockwood, by advancing along the coast ot Greenland, 
reached with sledges the latitude of 83 24'. The fact of having gone 

1 Commander Markham started on April 3rd and returned to the Alert on 
June i4th, after being seventy-two days absent. The distance in a straight line 
from the Alert (82 27' N. by 61 18' W. long.) to the most northern point 
reached (83 20' N. by 63 W. long.) is fifty-four miles. 

8 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

farther than Markham, though only by four miles, whilst starting 
from a latitude forty-three miles lower, appeared to demonstrate the 
advantage to be gained by following the land in order to advance to 
the north, but it afforded at the same time additional proof of 
the great difficulty of reaching the Pole. 1 


Professor Nansen was to give a fresh stimulus to those who 
were desirous of penetrating the secrets of Arctic regions, but was 
discouraged by the results of the last expeditions. Abandoning 
the system followed until then of sailing along some coast-line 

1 Captain Lockwood was absent from Fort Conger for sixty days, from 
April 3rd to June ist. The distance in a straight line from Fort Conger (81 44' N. 
by 64 45' W. long.) to the farthest point attained (83 24' N. by 40 46' W. long.) is 
220 miles. 

Plan of the Expedition 9 

into the highest latitudes where shelter could be obtained during 

o o 

the winter, and then dispatching sledge expeditions in the following 

spring, he formed the plan of taking advantage of the current 
which causes the masses of ice in the Arctic Ocean to drift from 

east to west, and allowing his ship to be carried along by them. 


When he reached the 84th parallel, and was convinced that the Fram, 
while drifting, would not pass by the Pole, he left his ship with a 
single companion in order to advance towards the Pole, and from 
thence proceed to Emperor Franz Josef Land. By the use of 
sledges drawn by dogs, which had one by one to be killed to feed 
the survivors, and by daring to abandon all hope ot retreat, as he 
had previously done in Greenland, he succeeded in making an 
immense advance beyond the parallel reached by his predecessors, 

io On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and extended up to 227 miles from the Pole the limits of what 
was known of the Arctic Ocean. 1 

The uncertainty of the existence of a great extent of land 
to the north of what was already known rendered it necessary, in 
Plan of the or ^ er to reach the Pole, to travel over the moving ice- 
fields of the Arctic Ocean. No deposit of provisions 
could be made on these ice-fields, and, therefore, to facilitate this 
advance it was essential that the point of departure for the expe- 
dition should be established as far as possible towards the north. 
How could that be done ? By Jetting the ship drift again in the 
ice, or by sailing along some coast-line as far as possible to the 
north, by the routes already discovered ? 

To repeat the attempt made by the Fram, and submit to 
imprisonment by the ice farther to the east than Nansen had done, 
necessitated remaining for perhaps three or four years in the Polar seas, 
in which case the sledging expedition could be only carried out after 
two or three years ; and a depot of supplies should first of all be safely 
established on Emperor Franz Josef Land, where the sledge expedi- 
tion would touch on its return. All honour, therefore, is due to 
Nansen, who, knowing that he should have to stay so long in the 
Polar ice, prepared and carried out his voyage with that intention. 
Although my desire of arriving at the Pole was most ardent, it 
was not, however, strong enough to induce me to remain for some 
years in those solitary and icy regions. The danger of losing the 
dogs by disease, the risk of trusting to drifting on the Arctic 

, from March i4th (84 4' N. by 101 47' E. long.) to August gth, 
the day on which he arrived at Adelaide Island (81 38' N. by 62 n' E. long.), 
having attained in the meanwhile the parallel of 86 13', and the longitude of 
96 E., had covered a total distance of 500 miles. To arrive at Cape Flora he 
travelled a further distance of about 210 miles. 

Plan of the Expedition i r 

Ocean (a voyage which, though it may be repeated with the same 
probability of success, may also be accompanied by unknown dangers, 
even in the case of vessels built like the Fram), dissuaded me 
from attempting to follow the same system, which is, however, 
certainly the best, because it brings the expedition nearer to its goal,. 


while at the same time the sledge expedition can be under- 
taken over ice-fields which are less uneven, because they are 
farther from land. 

The Alert, which passed the winter in 82 27' latitude off Grant 
Land, is the ship which has reached the highest latitude by following 
a coast-line. Considering that it was sometimes, if not always, possible 

1 2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to steam forward into the sea stretching from Greenland to America, 
that seemed to be the route most clearly pointed out to be followed. 
But two expeditions had already taken that direction that from 
Norway on the Fram y and another from America on the Windward. 
These expeditions, and the obstacles which Markham had encountered 
with his sledges, led me to discard that route and to tend towards 
Emperor Franz Josef Land, which is certainly known to extend 
to about the latitude of 82. The observations made by Payer, 
Nansen, and Jackson led me to believe that a ship could reach Prince 
Rudolph Island, which is the most northern of that archipelago. The 
crossing of the Sea of Barentz up to Cape Flora might be considered 
almost free from danger, and if it were not possible for a ship 
to reach the northern extremity of that group of islands, the 
lands situated towards the north would at any rate facilitate the 
sledge expedition. 

As there was no certainty that we could reach Prince Rudolph 
Island, the probable departure of the sledges from Cape Flora, 
in about 80 latitude, had to be taken into consideration. From 
this point to the Pole 600 miles, had, therefore, jto be traversed 
in going, and as many in returning a total of 1,200 geographical 
miles. Would it, I wondered, be possible to cover this distance 
with the means at our disposal, and in the few months in which an 
expedition was feasible ? 

In Eastern Siberia, Baron Wrangell, by employing a number of 
sledges drawn by dogs, which he sent back according as his supplies 
were consumed, was able, in the four expeditions which he led 
along the coast in 1821, 1822, and 1823, to cover the distance of 
647 miles in twenty-two days; of 698 miles in thirty-six days; 
of 782 miles in fifty-seven days ; and lastly of 1,326 miles in seventy- 
eight days. 

Plan of the Expedition 13 

Lieutenant Peary, in his journeys on the inland ice 1 of Greenland, 
in 1892 and 1895 covered four times in 140 days a distance of 444 
miles from MacCormick Bay to Independence Bay. It remained to 
be seen if what it had been possible to accomplish along the coast of 
Siberia, and on the inland ice of Greenland, could not also be achieved 
on the ice-fields of the Arctic Ocean.' 2 


In what was the best season for travelling, from March I4th 
to May J_5th, :i Nansen never made more than a daily average of 

1 The name of " inland ice " is given to the mantle of ice which covers the 
interior of Greenland. 

2 Independence Bay is situated in 81 37' N. by 34 5' W. long. The point 
comprised between MacCormick Bay and Baldwin Bay is at 77 45' N. by 69 39' 
W. long. 

3 The latitude and longitude of the Pram when Nansen left it was 84 4' N. 
by 101 47 E. long. The farthest latitude reached was 86 13' N. by 96 E. long. 
On May i5th he was in 83 38' N. by 64 12' E. long. 

14 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

five and a half miles. If, by progressing as speedily as Wrangell 
and Peary, the 1,200 miles required to reach the Pole and to return 
from it could be accomplished in less than a hundred days, by 
advancing at the same rate as Nansen, the same distance could not 
be covered in less than two hundred. During winter in the Arctic 
regions the continual darkness puts an end to travelling, and during 
summer, the softness of the snow, the pools and channels which 
are formed in the ice, render it difficult to make any progress ; so 
that only from ninety to a hundred days in the months of February, 
April, and May can be utilised for making an -expedition. Taking, 
therefore, only as a basis, the distances accomplished every day by 
Nansen, I did not feel inclined to attempt the undertaking. 

The difficulty of advancing speedily over the ice-fields during the 
spring is especially caused by the channels which open out even 
during intense cold, and by the pressure-ridges formed by the ice-floes 
rising up over each other. Nothing could be done to lessen the 
delay caused by the channels. But by having many sledges at my 
disposal, lightly laden, and each driven by a single person, it might be 
possible for a number of men to make their way much more speedily 
through the pressure-ridges, whilst progress would be rendered more 
easy in those tracts which would be comparatively level. By increas- 
ing the number of men, and having as many as there were sledges in 
our expedition, I hoped to exceed the daily average of Nansen, and 
to attain that of Peary and Wrangell. 

Allowing that it might be possible to obtain an average of twelve 
miles a day, and fixing the maximum weight of a sledge at 617 Ib. 
(so that it might be easily managed by the men, and drawn by 
eight dogs over slightly uneven, ground), calculating also the daily 
ration for each man at 2 Ib. 12 oz., like other explorers, and that 
for the dogs at I Ib. i oz. iodr., and being resolved to kill the dogs 

Plan of the Expedition 15 

one after the other to feed those which survived, could the problem 
of reaching the Pole, and returning to the ship, be solved ? The 
enormous distance of 1,200 miles could not be traversed by a single 
party unaided. Either the sledges would be too heavily laden or, as 
in the case of Nansen, it would be necessary to have a greater number 
of sledges than men. It would, therefore, be absolutely necessary to 
establish depots on the lands farthest to the north, and to employ 
auxiliary parties to carry on from them the supplies required to enable 
a small number of persons to proceed still farther. The expedition, 
therefore, required to be formed of three detachments, each composed 
of several persons. The first detachment was to advance from Cape 
Fligely to the 85th parallel, carrying supplies to feed the entire expedi- 
tion during the first stage of its march, and for its own food during its 
return to the ship. The second detachment was to go on farther to 
the north, up to the 88th parallel, with provisions for the rest of the 
expedition in its march to the north, and for itself when on its way 
back ; and, lastly, the third detachment was to advance from the 88th 
parallel to the Pole. These detachments, while returning, could not 
rely upon the magazine at Cape Fligely, as various causes might oblige 
them to deviate from their route and to return directly to the ship at 
Cape Flora. 

The plan, as thus conceived, had certainly its drawbacks, which 
were, chiefly the great number of the staff, and the large amount of 
supplies that would be necessary. Although it might be possible 
before starting to carefully select the men composing the expedition, 
it might, nevertheless, be expected that they would not all prove 
suited for that mode of life, and that, therefore, the delays would be 
increased by accidents which would occur all the more frequehtly the 
greater the number of the party. On the other hand, it presented 
many advantages, such as the possibility of selecting, among the 

1 6 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

members of the expedition, those who would be more capable of going 
on farther, while sending back the weaker ; further, the abundance 
of supplies would enable us to replace whatever might be damaged 
without wasting time in repairs ; and, lastly, the large number of 
dogs, besides drawing the sledges, would also form a reserve of 
provisions which did not require transport. 

My original intention was to proceed to Emperor Franz Josef 
Land and build a house there, but not to make the ship winter there, 
as Wellman and Jackson had done ; being uncertain, however, as 
to whether the ship could be sent back with safety, and thinking 
also that it might afford the expedition greater comfort, I afterwards 
decided to use it as a dwelling during the winter. 

The plan of the new expedition to the Arctic Ocean was there- 
fore as follows : It was to leave Archangel not later than July loth 
for Cape Flora and Northbrook Island, where a magazine was to be 
established with provisions for eight months, and four boats should 
be left. Thence it was to proceed to Queen Victoria Sea, and there 
seek a safe anchorage as far as possible to the north, close to the lands 
lying to the west of Emperor Franz Josef Land. Sledge expeditions 
were to be carried on in autumn and in spring : the former were to 
transport supplies to the lands situated more to the north, and the 
latter to attempt to reach the highest latitude. When these latter 
expeditions came back at the beginning of summer, the place where 
we had wintered should be left, or, if it were then too late to do 
so, a second winter might be passed there, and in the following year 
the expedition was to return to Cape Flora with or without the ship. 
In case we were shipwrecked during the autumn, the supplies on 
board, and what had been left at Cape Flora, would enable us to subsist 
until the arrival of the relieving ship which, when two years had 
elapsed after our departure, would be dispatched to that place. If it 

Plan of the Expedition 17 

were impossible to do otherwise, we might retreat by means of the 
boats left at Cape Flora towards Novaya Zemlya or to the Spitz- 
bergen Islands, according to circumstances. 

The plan of the sledge expedition was as follows : It was to 
start as soon as possible in spring, from the place where we had 
wintered, advancing in the direction of the magazines we had left 



during the autumn, and from these, after leaving the land, cross 
over the ice toward the Pole. The supplies were calculated so as 
to maintain a party of four men for forty days ; a second party of 
four men for seventy days ; and a third party, composed also of 
four men, for ninety days. The first party that which carried 
the supplies for forty days was to return to the ship after fifteen 
days' march, to be reckoned from the last depot, which might be 
VOL. i. 2 

1 8 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

supposed to be situated in 82 latitude, at Cape Fligely ; the second 
party, with rations for seventy days, was to separate from the rest 
of the expedition after thirty days' march ; and the third party was 
to go as far as possible in the direction of the Pole, advancing for 
forty days from Cape Fligely. These parties were to be quite 
independent of each other as soon as they separated. By means of 
the depot which I hoped to establish at Cape Fligely, I reckoned on 
starting from that latitude with sufficient supplies for the above- 
mentioned parties, in the hope that the last of them might succeed 
in reaching the Pole and returning to the ship, which would 
probably be stationed at 80 latitude. The plan was not to be 
modified, whatever might be the distance which could be covered 
every day. 

Besides attempting to reach the highest possible latitude, the 
expedition would carry instruments for taking observations on gravita- 
tion and terrestrial magnetism, seek to enlarge our meteorological 
and hydrographical knowledge of the localities which were to be 
visited, and collect as much information as possible with regard to 
the fauna and flora of Emperor Franz Josef Land. 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 



DOGS are undeniably the most useful animals for man in his 
expeditions with sledges over the ice of the Polar Sea. They 
have this advantage, too, that, unlike horses and reindeer, they readily 
eat their fellows. Their weight is small, and they can be 

' Getting the Ex- 

easily carried on light boats or on ice-floes. Their loss pedition ready ' 
represents but a small diminution of motive power in comparison with 
what would result from the death of a reindeer or of a horse. The 
best dogs for the sledge are to be found in Greenland and in Eastern 
Siberia ; but the Danish Government has forbidden their exportation 
from Greenland, and it was difficult to procure them from Eastern 
Siberia. It was, therefore, decided to bring dogs from Western Siberia, 
as they, too, are good, and in July, 1898, an order for 120 was given 
to Alexander Trontheim (who had formerly provided Nansen with 
his dogs). - The English Vice-Consul in Archangel, Mr. Henry 
Arthur Cooke, kindly took charge of the correspondence with 
Trontheim, in which he took a special interest and for which I 
am deeply grateful to him. 

Of all the ships for sale in January, 1899, t ^ ie best ^ or tne 
strength of its timber and the quality of its engines was the Jason, 
a whaler about to start for the seal fishery. It had been built at 
Sande-Fiord in 1881, and could carry 570 tons of cargo. Its dimen- 
sions were as follows : Length on the deck, 1 3 1 ft. ; width, 30 ft. 6 in. ; 

22 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and it drew from 15 ft. n in. to 16 ft. 6 in. Its engines, which were 
nominally of 60 h.p., gave a speed of from six to seven miles an hour. 
The ship had a new boiler, and carried a spare propeller and rudder. 
It had no propeller -well or rudder-well. The Jason was getting 
ready to start, under the command of Captain Evensen, one of 
the most experienced and daring whaling captains. When its 
destination was changed, all the iron tanks which filled the hold were 
taken out, except four which were to serve to carry fresh water. The 
coal was put on shore, and the ship was sent to Colin Archer's 
dockyard at Larvik to undergo the overhauling and changes rendered 
necessary by its new enterprise. 

Many changes required to be made : in its hull, in its masts, and 
in its cabins. Stanchions were placed in the hold, which met in the 
centre under the transverse beams supporting the deck, while the lower 
ends rested on the floor timbers, and the lower deck, which had hitherto 
been entirely movable, so as to allow the large tanks to be easily 
filled, was firmly fixed in its position. The masts were changed and 
the vessel was transformed from a barque to a barquentine. This 
change was advisable on account of the diminished number of the 
crew, which having, moreover, only a small proportion of sailors, 
would hardly have been able to manage two masts carrying square 
sails. The ten boats of the Jason, which were 19 ft. 8 in. and 
20 ft. 1 1 in. long, were kept. Although they were not large 
enough for a long journey, they were well adapted by their light- 
ness for dragging over the ice, as they weighed only 1,542 Ib. 
without their rigging. The forecastle was cleared out, and accom- 
modation for all the crew provided on the lower deck near the 
engines. The places which had to be kept warm were thus brought 
close together, with the advantageous result of a smaller consump- 
tion of fuel and the utilisation of the heat of the boiler. The 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 23 

deck-house at the stern was taken away, and replaced by a 
shelter extending from the main-mast to the wheel, built expressly 
for the Polar regions and covering the officers' cabins, the dining- 
room, the laboratory, the kitchen, the cabinet for the instruments, 
and the pumps. The doors opening on it were double, with 
high leaves. The cabins had no windows, light being only admitted 
by the doors and by three skylights. To keep the ship free 
from water, we had, besides the pumps just mentioned, those which 


were worked by a windmill fitted up on deck, and by the donkey- 
engine, and, when the engines were working, the pipe from the 
condenser to the bilge. 

The straight sides of the ship did not present the shape most 
adapted for resisting pressure ; but as we were to sail in a sea 
frequented by whalers, and seek an anchorage for winter, a special 
build was not as necessary as in the case of the Fram, which was 
intended to be imprisoned in the ice. Our old ship, which had 
already sailed in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, and had acquired 

24 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

celebrity by taking over Nansen to make the crossing of Greenland, 
had its name changed. As the object of the expedition was to 
reach that spot on the surface of the earth near the zenith of which 
shines a star known to all from the man of learning to the peasant, 
what name could be more suited to the ship than that of Stella 
Polare the Polar Star? 

Commander Schley (now Admiral), who had been sent by the 
American Government to search for Greely's ill-fated expedition, a 
part of which he succeeded in rescuing, and who went farther than 
all the whalers dispatched on the same undertaking, says in his 
account of his journey 1 that if a naval officer who is put in com- 
mand of a ship intended to navigate the Polar regions does not fall 
a victim to his inexperience at the beginning, he soon acquires the 
knowledge which whaling captains gain by long practice. From 
the very first I suspected, and later on I verified, that during the 
short space of time requisite for the acquisition of this knowledge 
events may occur which, in the case of one who for the first time 
attempts that sort of navigation, are enough to ruin the expedition, 
or, at least, to cause the loss of favourable opportunities. An 
officer who only knew the ice of the Polar Sea by having read 
about it in books, and who would have wished to man his ship 
with a crew composed entirely of sailors with little experience of 
the region of ice, would have endangered the expedition from its 
very beginning through his false pride. I, therefore, gave up the 
idea of having a crew composed entirely of Italians. I preferred 
to choose a safe and capable Norwegian commander, to whom I 
might trust the guidance of the ship through the ice, and a crew 
of the same nationality, associating with them some Italian sailors and 
guides who were specially intended to take part in the expedition 
1 W. S. Schley and Soley, The Rescue of Greefy, p. 181. (London, 1885.) 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 25 

with sledges. By fitting out the vessel in Norway, it would 
be more easy to provide it with all that was requisite for an 
expedition in the midst of ice, whilst if any mishap occurred to our 


undertaking the captain and crew would find it more easy to 
return to Europe. Although the assemblage of a crew of two 
different nationalities on a ship intended to make an expedition to 
the Arctic regions did not seem to me to be without its drawbacks, 

26 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

I was firmly convinced from the outset that, if the men were all 
equally well treated by their chief, the good understanding between 
them would not be disturbed. 

The number of persons composing the expedition was strictly 
limited to what was necessary to navigate the ship from Norway 


1. Storeroom next the Wheel. 

2. After-Hold. 

3. Officers' Quarters. 

4. Engines and Boilers. 

5. Water-Tanks. 

6. Hatches. 

7. Powder Magazine. 

8. Lower Deck. 

9. Main Hold. 

10. Stairs. 

11. Sails and Cables. 

12. Fore-Hold. 

13. Mizzen-mast. 

14. Main-mast. 

15. Fore-mast. 

16. Sleeping Quarters of the 


1. Stores. 

2. Mizzen-mast. 

3. Workroom. 

4. Officers' Saloon. 

5. Crew's Room. 

6. Skylights. 

7. Galley. 


8. Storeroom. 

9. Infirmary. 

10. Storeroom for Drugs. 

11. Passages. 

12. W.C. 

13. Storeroom for Instruments. 

14. Skylight over the Engine 


15. Chimney. 

16. The Pumps. 

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, Officers* 

Cook's Cabin. 

to Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago, and for the further advance 
with the sledges. The object of the expedition was to cross over 
the ice of the Arctic Ocean, so the choice of the persons destined 
to take part in it required to be carefully considered. It was 
essential to have men among them well acquainted with nautical 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 27 

astronomy, who could use instruments and make calculations so as 
to find their way back to land. It was, moreover, necessary that 
if we found ourselves in difficult circumstances, these persons should 
have the knowledge possessed by those accustomed to command. 
The officers of the Italian Royal Navy were those who were most 
certain to possess this double capacity, and to them I applied, with 
the kind consent of the Government. Captain Umberto Cagni had 

a. Space filled with Cork. b. Felt. c. Inner Timbers. d. Outer Timbers. c. Empty Space. 

since the summer of 1898 been already chosen to be second in 
command of the expedition. He undertook to take charge of the 
scientific observations. I selected Lieutenant Francesco Querini to 
assist him in making these observations, and as well to command one 
of the parties in the sledging expedition towards the Pole, and for 
medical officer of the expedition, Dr. Achille Cavalli Molinelli, doctor 
of the highest grade. Although I had not at first intended that this 
officer should form part of the sledge expedition, he showed later on 

28 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

so much experience and daring that he was naturally selected as the 
leader of one of our detachments in the attempt to reach the Pole. 

Not only the officers, but also all the men intended to take 

part in the expedition required to be endowed with more than 

ordinary endurance, both moral and physical. During my journey 

to Alaska I became convinced that it would be more easy to find 

such men among our Alpine guides, and among the inhabitants of 

i our coasts, than elsewhere. I therefore took with me four guides and 

two sailors of the Italian Navy, who were specially intended to serve 

in the boats which were to be carried on sledges ; and at Archangel 

. I fortunately replaced, by an Italian, the cook whom I had engaged 

in Norway. 

The Norwegian^ crew was recruited by M. Torres Bonnevie. 
Evensen was at once selected as captain, for, being disengaged on 
account of the sale of the Jason^ he showed a great desire to take 
part in this expedition. We required also a mate, two engineers, 
a boatswain, a carpenter, and three stokers. 

They all came willingly, well aware of the dangers they were 
going to face, and eager to penetrate by courage and fatigue into 
the mystery which still surrounds the North Pole, and to enrich 
science by new discoveries. 

When definitely organised, the expedition consisted of : 

H.R.H. Louis of Savoy, Lieutenant of the Italian Navy, aged 26, born in Turin, 

Commander of the Expedition. 
Umberto Cagni, Captain of the Italian Navy, aged 36, born in Asti, Second 

in Command of the Expedition, and in charge of the Scientific observations. 
Francesco Querini, Lieutenant of the Italian Navy, aged 31, born at Venice, who 

took charge of the Mineralogical collections, and was also appointed to assist 

Commander Cagni in his Scientific observations. 
Achille Cavalli Molinelli, doctor of the highest grade, Italian Navy, aged 33, born 

at Sale (Province of Alessandria), Medical Officer of the Expedition, in charge 

of the Zoological and Botanical collections. 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 29 

C. Julius Evensen, aged 47, of Sande- Fiord, Captain of the Polar Star. 

Andreas Andresen, aged 28, of Sande-Fiord, Second Officer of the Polar 


Henrik Alfred Stokken, aged 24, of Sande-Fiord, First Engineer. 
Anton Torgrinsen, aged 30, of Larvik, Second Engineer. 

1. Dittnan Olausen. 

2. Johan Johansen. 

3. Felice Oilier. 

4. Cipriano Savoie. 

45678 9 i 


5. Carl Christian Hansen. 

6. Alessio Fenoillet. 

7. Giuseppe Petiga*. 

8. Simone Canepa. 

9. Hans Magnus Dahl. 

10. Gino Gini. 

11. Giacomo Cardenti. 

12. Ole Johansen. 

Guides /"Giuseppe Petigax, aged 38, of Courmayeur, Val d'Aosta. 

intended to form Alessio Fenoillet, aged 37, of Courmayeur, Val d'Aosta. 

part of the 1 
Expedition with Cipriano Savoie, aged 30, of Pre Saint Didier, Val d'Aosta. 

Sledges. ^ Felice Oilier, aged 30, of Courmayeur, Val d'Aosta. 
Giacomo Cardenti, aged 32, of Porto Ferraio, Boatswain, Royal Navy. 
Simone Canepa, aged 21, of Varazze (Province of Genoa), Sailor of the second 


30 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Gino Gini, aged 35, of Acquapendente (Province of Rome), Cook. 
Carl Christian Hansen, aged 37, of Larvik, Boatswain's Mate. 
Ditman Olausen, aged 28, of Tonsberg, Carpenter. 
Hans Magnus Dahl, aged 21, of Christiania, Fireman. 
Johan Johansen, aged 42, of Sande-Fiord, Fireman. 
Ole Johansen, aged 25, of Larvik, Fireman. 

The expedition took with it supplies for four years. Commander 
Cagni and Michaelangiolo Chiotti, First-class Commissary (in Italy), 
and Mr. Heim (in Norway) were entrusted with the care of this most 
important department. A preference was given to those kinds of food 
which had been chosen by Nansen for the first expedition of the Fram, 
and Sverdrup had chosen for the second, selecting those which had 
been proved to have been kept well preserved rather than others 
more tasty, perhaps, but not as yet tried. Most of the biscuits 
and butter, all the macaroni and rice, came from Italy. In 
countries where farinaceous food-stuffs are indispensable, macaroni is 
a very good substitute for bread, which it is very difficult to have 
fresh every day on board ship, and cannot be conveniently 
baked in camp. The provisions were all supplied in hermetically 
sealed tins, an essential condition for their preservation, which also 
contributes to ward off the danger of scurvy. As much variety 
as possible was aimed at in the choice of these supplies, so as 
to avoid tiring the palate. Only a small quantity of wine and 
spirits was taken, for if it is harmful to drink too much alcohol in 
the Arctic regions, a moderate amount is not only wholesome, but has 
also a decidedly moral effect by making the crew more cheerful. The 
system adopted with the provisions brought from Italy that is to say, 
of dividing them into cases of fifty-five pounds each containing the 
same sort of food ought to have been followed with regard to all 
the stores. The cases would thus have been more convenient to 
handle, and as their contents would be accurately known, it would 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 31 

have been easy to verify at any moment how much remained of any 
given article of food. 

Plenty of fur coats and woollen garments were taken, in order 
that when we arrived at our destination we might adopt whatever 
it would be found best to wear. Caps, gloves, and gauntlets of wool 
and of fur were selected, so as to meet every possible degree of cold. 
For summer wear the expedition was provided with the boots and 


shoes usually worn by sailors, which keep the feet and legs dry, and 
are easy to put on. Lapp shoes of sealskin called komager were 
taken for winter wear (they come as high as ordinary shoes, but are 
not open on the instep, and are tied round the ankle by two thongs), as 
well as Finn shoes called fmsko, of reindeer skin, with the hair outside, 
and of the same shape as the komager. Besides stockings of every 
degree of thickness, a quantity of sedges were taken as padding for 

32 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

\ the komagers andfaskos. There were also plenty of woollen blankets, 
sleeping-bags lined with down, beds, and two field-tents, in case the 
expedition should be obliged to abandon the ship. 

The suggestions of Professor Nansen were followed with regard 
to the equipment to be carried by the expedition designed to cross 
the ice. The same sorts of lamps and stoves were selected which had 
rendered him such good service, and had been also employed in 
the Alaska expedition. The tents were made on the model of that 
adopted by Mummery for mountaineering, but a little larger, and 
special attention was paid to the dogs' harness. Everything was got 
ready while we were in Europe, so as to leave as little as possible to 
be done on board during the winter, and to avoid the risk of having 
it badly made. 

To the arms already on the Jason, which were those carried by 
all whaling crews, were added eight double-barrelled guns, having one 
shot barrel of 2O-bore, and the other for ball of -303 calibre for 
the sledge expedition, a Paradox rifle of i6-bore, a double- 
barrelled gun of -303 calibre, and two Euoplia rifles for ordinary 
use. Over 440 Ib. of guncotton to be used for blasting the ice, 
were also taken. 

Besides the usual meteorological observations which were to 


be made at the spot where we should pass the winter, the most 
important were those for astronomy, gravitation, and terrestrial 
magnetism. For the purpose of observing the temperature and 
the hygrometrical state of the atmosphere, the direction and the 
velocity of the wind, and the solar heat, registering instruments 
were carried which were to be compared with standard barometers, 
thermometers, and hygrometers. A Sternek pendulum was purchased 
for the study of gravitation, and a Schneider magnetometer for 
magnetic observations. There were also sounding lines, current 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 33 

gauges, and thermometers to observe the temperature and the 
density of water at different depths as well as the temperature of 
the ground, a theodolite, and four sea chronometers. The collection 
of instruments was completed by six Longines pocket chronometers, 
sextants of aluminium, and artificial glass horizons for the sledge 
expedition. Most of these were furnished by the Italian Naval 


Hydrographic Office, and I thank the Government, in the person 
of Admiral Palumbo, who was then Minister of Marine, for having 
allowed them to be lent to me for the expedition. The others were 
purchased. I also here express my gratitude to Captain Ernesto 
Filippone and to Professors Cesare Aimonetti, Nicodemo Jadanza, 
Giuseppe Lombard, Andrea Naccari, Luigi Palazzo, Francesco Porro, 
and Giovanni Battista Rizzo for the help they gave me in getting 
ready the scientific equipment of the expedition. Besides the instru- 
VOL i. 3 

34 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

ments, we also had a collection of books on the Arctic regions, and 
other scientific works. 

I had thought to make use of captive balloons to assist the 
expedition on its way towards the Pole. The weight of a sledge 


being fixed at 280 kilos (617 lb.), and a cubic metre of gas (36 cubic 
feet) being able to raise about a kilo (2 lb. 3 oz.), a small balloon 
of 440 cubic metres 1 (15,954 cubic feet) attached to a sledge 
could raise it ; thus sixteen dogs harnessed to two sledges, placed 
one above the other, would drag a weight equivalent only to that of 
a single sledge. If the balloons were destroyed by a storm or any 
other accident, their loss would not have any bad results, as the 
advance could be continued all the same ; moreover, if they could have 
been employed, for at least a few days, the more serious obstacles, which 
are those next the shore, would by that time have been surmounted. 

Orders were given to prepare four of these balloons and the 
necessary apparatus to make hydrogen gas. Experiments were made 
in Paris to ascertain what might be the most suitable form to give 
them, whether spherical or cigar-shaped, and in Turin the tissues were 

1 The weight of a balloon is about 160 kilos (348 lb.). 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 35 

tested to ascertain if it were possible to inflate these balloons when the 
temperature was from thirty to forty degrees below zero. Commander 
Cagni's experiments in Paris proved that the cigar-shaped balloon 
was absolutely useless, but that the spherical might be of service. 


The experiments made in the Royal Industrial Museum at Turin, 
under the direction of Professor Lombard, showed that tissues which 
had long been exposed to very low temperatures were no longer 
sufficiently elastic to allow the balloons to be inflated in the Arctic 
regions. Both Professor Lombard and the firm of Godard & Surcouf, 

36 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

which furnished the balloons, pointed out how necessary it would be to 
have at our service a room where the temperature could be artificially- 
maintained not far from the freezing point, whilst the balloon was 
being inflated. The difficulty of procuring such a locality, and the 
great weight of sulphuric acid which it would be necessary to carry 
to inflate the four balloons, as well as the uncertainty of being able 
to make use of them, rendered it, therefore, advisable to reduce our 
aeronautic equipment to two balloons which might serve as an 

The photographic equipment consisted of a Dallmeyer camera and 
of several Kodaks (bull's-eye, cartridge, and No. 5 folding Kodak), 
with the requisite materials for the development of the negatives. 

The total expense of the expedition was as follows: 


(a) The Jason, purchase and overhauling . 300,000 12,500 

() StafF and Crew ..... 160,000 

(V) Dogs 17,000 

(*/) Provisions ...... 172,000 

(e) Clothing ...... 72,000 3,000 

(/) Outfit of the Sledge Expedition . 20,000 833 

(g) Scientific Instruments, Books, and Arms 79,000 3,291 

(/z) Aeronautic Outfit .... 52,000 2,166 

(/') Medical and Photographic Outfit . 14,000 583 

(y) Sundries, Transport, Coal . . . 36,000 1,500 

Lire 922,000 38,413 

_ _ 

All these preparations kept us fully occupied from the 

The Departure en< ^ ^ January until the beginning of May. On 

May 7th the members of the expedition took their 

departure for Norway from Rome, where H.M. King Humbert I. 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 37 

and the officers of the Royal Navy took leave of them at the station. 
Whilst Cagni, Querini, and Cavalli were putting the stores in order 
at Christiania as they arrived, I was at Larvik hastening as much 
as possible the departure of the ship ; by May 28th, when the Polar 
Star left Mr. Archer's dockyard for the capital of Norway, the 
most essential part of the work was completed. 

It is not easy to stow away the cargo of a vessel which is about 


to undertake a Polar expedition. The ships intended for these 
journeys are not very large; the number of articles to be taken 
on board is very great, and must be so packed that those, at least, 
required for daily use can be easily got at. 

The Polar Star had four places for stowage : an under-hold, 
a hold on the lower deck, a hold aft of the engines beneath the 
officers' saloon, and another on the deck beneath the steering-wheel. 
The under-hold was filled with coal only, which, together with that 
in the bunkers, amounted, when we left Archangel, to about 350 tons. 
The forward part of this hold was reserved for the dogs' food, in 

38 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

order not to sink the bow of the vessel too much, for as these 
provisions mostly consisted of dried fish and biscuit they took up much 
room but weighed very little. On the lower deck all the provisions 
for the crew were stowed away, except towards the stern, where 
ten tons of petroleum in four large tanks were placed. Next the main 
hatch of the lower deck, on one side, the provisions which were to be 
loaded on the sledges were stored, and the clothing in a press on the 
other side, so that both could easily be removed in case the vessel had 
to be suddenly abandoned. In the hold next the stern, which opened 
into our saloon, and since it was near the engines was also the 
warmest, was placed the wine, which would thus keep better. What- 
ever might be required to be always within reach was put below 
the wheel at the stern, and the ammunition, separated from the 
rest of the cargo, was in the centre of the lower deck in a small 
magazine. The balloons, which were packed in crates to allow the 
air to circulate, were placed on deck, along with the apparatus for 
producing hydrogen gas, and a small boiler. Thirty-six iron tanks, 
containing about twelve tons of sulphuric acid, were placed in the 
centre of the deck in an enclosure lined with lead, and provided with 
a gutter, so as to prevent the acid from burning the boards of the 
deck in case of leakage. Six tons of iron filings completed our 
aeronautic outfit. Although we had ascertained the cubic capacity 
of the holds and knew the volume of the cargo which was 
forwarded to us, we mistrusted the exactitude of our calculations 
when we saw the enormous quantity of cases which had to be stowed 
away within the sides of the Polar Star. Thanks, however, to our 
scrupulous care, we succeeded in getting everything on board. 

The morning of June I2th had been fixed for our departure. 
Visits from august personages, hospitable invitations, and some un- 
pleasant incidents had filled up our time during the last days of our 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 39 

stay. On June 8th we went to Lijsaker to pass the evening with 
Professor and Madame Nansen. It was late at night, but the sky 

was bright when we took leave of our kindlv hosts Our stayat 

' Christiania and 

after passing a pleasant evening, enlivened by dancing, ? n ce Parture 
and we could not help thinking with sadness of the unknown regions 
whither we were tending, where dancing would have to be forgotten. 


T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Naples arrived on June 9th, 
and we were much pleased by their visit, and kindly wishes 
for our success. On account of a dispute which occurred with 
regard to the life assurance of a part of the crew, I took upon 
myself to assure the Norwegians, as had already been done for 
the Italians. The officers had been assured by an Italian company, 

4-O On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and, at their formal request, only in case of some accident which 
might oblige them to leave the service. 

On the evening of June I ith we had taken leave of those persons 
who had most specially helped us. First of all was Professor Nansen, 
who, since the winter, had placed himself entirely at my disposal for 
all the information I might require, helping me with his advice, and 
busying himself about many matters, which thus allowed me to com- 
plete in a short time the organisation of the expedition ; and I shall 
never forget the hours I passed at Lijsaker seeking instruction, during 
which he not only answered my questions, but anticipated them, 
taking the same cordial interest in the expedition as if he himself were 
to lead it. I shall always preserve a grateful remembrance, not only 
of his advice with regard to the Arctic regions, but also of his great 
courtesy. I also heartily thank Professors Mohn, Collett, Brogger, and 
Geelmyden, and Consul Hallager for the help they gave me. I also 
express my gratitude to all Norway to its Government, to its learned 
societies, and to its people, for the assistance they gave to my ex- 
pedition, for the courtesy I received from them, and for the kindly 
wishes which they offered on my departure. 

We were ready to weigh anchor on the morning of June I2th. 
H.M. the King of Sweden and Norway had telegraphed to us his good 
wishes for the success of the expedition. The ships were decked 
with flags, and many friends came on board. The ladies brought 
bouquets of flowers a pleasant remembrance for us, who were going 
to a flowerless land. Professor Nansen had kindly given me two 
of his dogs which were born on the Fram. We left Christiania at 
eleven o'clock, whilst the crews of the men-of-war cheered us, 
and the fort saluted us with its guns. 

We arrived at Larvik that night. The captain and the Nor- 
wegian sailors went on shore to visit their families ; we stayed on 


Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 41 

board with the guides and sailors to superintend the embarkation 
of the remaining supplies. I breathed freely at the thought that 
until Archangel was reached there would be nothing On the w 
more to take on board, but that we would merely have 
to put in order what we had. The following day we resumed 
our course towards the White Sea. On the morning of June 2 8th 
Cape Sviatossnoss was seen in the distance, and at the same time 
the first signs of ice appeared, indicated by the whitish colour 
of the sky. Strange forms appeared on the horizon, caused by 


refraction, which, as we advanced, changed into small blocks of 
ice. It was the ice of the White Sea, only then beginning to 
leave the vast inner basin, having been previously held back by the 
north-east wind. It was thin, weak ice, broken up into small floes. 
A steamer which had overtaken and had passed us had been forced 
to draw nearer to the land in order to be able to continue its 
course. We followed the same route, but the 'Polar Star^ which 
easily broke up the small floes with its stem, advanced without 
stopping, and overtook the steamer in its turn. Our propeller was 
placed very low, and the planks of the bow were strong, so that we 
ran no danger from the shock or from the sharp points of the ice ; we 

42 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

were thus able to advance at our usual speed, whilst the steamer 
had been obliged to slow down. In the previous year, at the same 
season, I had found the White Sea entirely free from ice ; these 
masses of ice confirmed the report that the spring had been rather 
cold, and that the summer was late, and therefore unfavourable to 
the continuation of our journey. We passed through that tract 
of drifting ice, and entered the Dvina during the night ; on the 
morning of June 3<Dth we arrived at Archangel, and cast anchor 
at Solombol. 

Having paid the usual formal visits to the Governor, His 
Excellency General Engelhardt, and to the Vice-Governor, Prince 
The siedge GortschakofF, who, on the arrival of the Polar Star, 
had kindly come on board, I went with the courteous 
English Vice-Consul, Mr. Cooke, to see the dogs. On entering 
into the enclosure where they were chained, they jumped up and 
turned towards us, barking furiously. Their aspect was not very 
reassuring ; but as soon as I had fondled one or two of them, 
I perceived that they were not so ferocious as they had seemed at 
first. They feared man, probably remembering the many blows they 
had received since their puppyhood, and if they were kept tied 
up, it was simply in order that they should not tear each other to 
pieces. When a few blows had been given to the most turbulent, 
the uproar soon came to an end ; they lay down, and I was enabled 
to examine them more attentively. There were 121 one more than 
the number at first agreed upon ; some of them were white, others 
black and white, black, brown, and iron-grey ; some were lithe, others 
thick and heavy ; their hair was thick and short, or long and curly ; 
their noses were pointed or blunt. They all had deep chests, strong 
legs, straight and pointed ears ; their tails were long and bushy or 
fringed, like their hair, and were carried more or less curled up. 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 43 

Some resembled large foxes, others were like wolves ; the former 
barked, the latter howled. The tallest were twenty-three inches 
in height. They were then nearly all losing their hair from the 
heat, and either from want of sufficient food or on account of 
the gnats, or because they were tired after their journey, seemed 
thin and weakly. 

On seeing the condition of these animals, on which I had reckoned 
so much, I felt very uneasy lest they might not be fit to cover the 
distance over which we intended to travel. It was useless for Tront- 


heim to assure me that the dogs should not be judged according to 
their appearance just then. He did not succeed in convincing me, 
and the long marches made by Peary and Wrangell seemed a dream 
which might have been realised by means of other dogs, but never 
with the help of those we had. 

This pack had been brought there by Alexander Ivanov Tront- 
heim, a Russian by birth, but of Norwegian origin. With two other 
men he had started from Tobolsk, in Eastern Siberia, towards the 
end of May, and had reached Tumen by means of the Rivers Tobol 

44 O n the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and Toura ; he had then made the journey from Tumen to Koltass 
by rail, and come down the Dvina to Archangel ; in all, a journey 
of 1,100 miles. He had arrived at Archangel in the early part of 

The Siberian tribes dwelling along the shores of the Arctic 
Ocean the Ostiaks, the Yakuts, and the Tchuktches make great 
use of dogs as well as reindeer for drawing their sledges. Baron 
Wrangell, who passed three years in Eastern Siberia, and employed the 
dogs of that country in his expeditions, writes concerning them thus : 

" Of all the animals living in the northern regions, none is so 
worthy of bt-ing noticed as the dog. It is the companion of man in all 
climes, from the South Sea Islands, where he feeds on bananas, to the 
Polar Ocean, where he eats fish ; and here he toils in a way to which 
he is unaccustomed in more favoured regions. Necessity has taught 
the inhabitants of the north to employ for draught these animals, 
which are comparatively weak. On all the coasts of the Polar Sea 
from the River Obi to Behring Straits, in Greenland, Kamtschatka) 
and the Kurile Islands dogs are employed to drag sledges laden with 
goods and persons for great distances. 

" These dogs have much resemblance to the wolf. They have 
long, sharp, and projecting noses, sharp and upright ears, and a 
long bushy tail ; some have smooth and some have curly hair. 
They are of various colours black, brown, reddish brown, white, 
and spotted. Their height varies. A good sledge-dog should not 
be less than 2 ft. 7 in. high, and 3 ft. 8J^ in. in length. 

" Their bark resembles the howl of a wolf. They pass their life 
in the open air. In summer they burrow in the earth to keep 
themselves cool, or lie in the water to avoid the gnats ; in winter 
they bury themselves in the snow, and lie rolled up with their nose 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 45 

covered with their bushy tail. The females are killed as soon as born, 
except enough to preserve the race, and the males alone are employed 
for sledging. Those born in winter begin to draw in the following 
autumn, but they are not used in long journeys until their third year. 
Their feeding and training is a special art, and much skill is required 
to harness and drive them. The best-trained dog is made leader, and 
as the speed and the safety with which a sledge travels with its usual 



team of twelve dogs depend on the sagacity and docility of the leading 
dog, no pains are spared in so training it that it shall always obey its 
master's voice, and not turn aside from its path when it comes on the 
scent of game. This last quality is the most difficult to obtain. It 
sometimes happens that the entire team on meeting with a trail follows 
it, and no efforts on the part of the driver can check it. In these 
cases we have often had to admire the skill with which the leading 
dog has been trained to prevent the others from following the scent. 

46 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

If other methods fail, it would suddenly turn round and try to induce 
its comrades to follow it by barking as if it scented a fresh trail. In 
crossing the lonely tundra in the darkness of night, when the vast 
plain is veiled by an impenetrable fog, or snowstorms are raging, 
and the traveller is in danger of not finding a shelter and of 
perishing in the snow, he often owes his safety to a good leading 
dog. If the animal has ever been once in that plain, and has 
stopped there at a cabin with his master, he will safely guide the 
sledge to the spot where it lies deeply buried in the snow, and when 
arrived at it, will stop to point out the place where his master must 
dig to find it. 

" These dogs are not employed merely in winter, for in summer 
they tow the boats up the rivers, and it is curious to witness how 
they obey their master's voice, and cross from one bank to another. 
At his call they plunge into the water with the tow-line, swim to 
the opposite shore, and on reaching it they re-form in good order 
and wait for the command to go on. Sometimes even those who 
have no horses employ the dogs on their hunting expeditions to 
drag their light boats from one lake or river to another. In a 
word, for the inhabitants of this country, the dog is as useful 
and indispensable a domestic animal as the reindeer to the wander- 
ing tribes." * 

A small number of our dogs resembled those of Eastern Siberia 
as described by Wrangell. They were, however, smaller in height ; 
the others were Samoyed dogs or crossings of different breeds. In the 
district of the Lower Obi, whence Trontheim had brought them, 
which is situated between Eastern Siberia and the country of the 

1 Wrangell's Siberia and the Polar Sea, edited by Major Edward Sabine, 
pp. 72-74. (London, 1840.) 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 47 

Samoyeds, dogs are to be found from both parts of Siberia, as well as 
those bred from crossings of eastern and western races. Although all 
the dogs brought by Trontheim had been trained to draw the sledge, 
the great superiority in endurance and strength of those which most 
resembled the type described by Wrangell was shown later on. 

The deck was so encumbered that it was not very easy to 

. . 


accommodate so many animals. Two rows of cages, one above 
the other, were built against the bulwarks of the ship, on both 
sides. The first row rested on the deck, the other, was one yard 
above it, and these cages were separated by wooden partitions. 
Four dogs were placed in each, arid chained to the corners, so that 
though they could stand up to eat and drink, they could not bite 

48 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

each other. As the cages and their floors were covered with gratings 
and tarpaulin, they could be frequently washed while the dogs 
were kept dry. This was an excellent arrangement, and thanks 
to it these animals lived for a month on board without suffering 
much discomfort, while, as they were left undisturbed and always 
kept clean, they gave very little trouble, to our great satisfaction. 
We were awakened on the morning of July 3rd by a pleasing 
announcement. Count Oldofredi, Count Rignon, Cavaliere Silvestri, 

The Polar star an d Colonel Nasalli had just arrived from Moscow, 
leaves Europe. XTT . , , . c , . , , . ^ , , 

With the greetings or their Majesties, Count Oldo- 
fredi also brought many presents from the Queen and from 
the Duchesses Letitia and Helena of Aosta, who, following the 
practice observed in other expeditions, had thought before our de- 
parture of packing up in boxes various objects to be distributed 
on certain anniversaries among the officers and crew. This pleasant 
visit was followed the next day by that of the Ambassador, His 
Excellency Count Morra di Lavriano, who also brought me the kindly 
wishes of the staff of the Embassy at St. Petersburg imprinted on 
the cylinder of a graphophone. General Morra went away the 
same evening, leaving with all of us, but especially with me, a grateful 
recollection of his visit. 

On July 9th the ship was decked with flags to salute the Grand 
Duke Vladimir, who was passing by on his return from Katharinen- 
hafen. He came on board to visit the ship and to wish the expedition 
good luck, but though the Polar Star was ready to go to the 
Arctic regions, it was not as yet in a fitting state to receive a visit 
from a Prince. The deck and the inner rooms were encumbered 
with cargo, and we had only ceased coaling on the previous evening, 
on account of the draught of the vessel, which had already attained 
the maximum depth the navigation of the Dvina allowed of. 

Preparation and Departure of the Expedition 49 

Our departure had been fixed for July i2th. On the eve of 
that day those among us who were Catholics had assisted at mass in a 
chapel, which had been courteously opened at our request, when more 
than one of us turned his thoughts towards Heaven to implore it to 
give success to our enterprise, and to watch over those who were 
dear to us. In the afternoon the dogs were brought alongside on a 
pontoon, and put into their kennels one after the other. Towards 
the evening the Polar Star, with the Italian and Norwegian flags 
at its mast-head, left her moorings, and descended the Dvina, towed 
by two tugs. Dr. Cavalli and I remained on shore to pass a last 
evening with our friends from Italy. 

On the following morning we left Archangel. The timber 
rafts between which we passed, lowered their flags to greet us as 
we went rapidly on our way towards the bar of Berezof. We then 
finished coaling, and our visitors took their leave at five o'clock. 
What a friendly inspiration had been theirs, to come to greet us in 
that remote country, and to bring us at the last port of civilisation 
the farewell of our distant home ! Their society had enabled us to 
pass those days more quickly, and the thought of the long months 
which must elapse before we could again communicate with the rest 
of the world rendered us all sad at that moment. They went down 
into the tug, and we gave them a last cheer from the deck. The 
Polar Star, driven by her propeller, then began to glide over 
the tranquil waters of the estuary, and whilst standing out to sea 
we were saluted by a Russian cruiser which signalled to us : " We 
wish you a happy voyage." 

VOL. i. 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 


r I ^HE Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago was accidentally discovered 
-- in 1873, by the Austrian expedition under the command 
of Weyprecht and Payer. The newly found land which had 
been sighted that autumn by the explorers was visited A sketch of the 

History of the 

in the following spring by Payer, who went as far as 

Cape Fligely with sledges. He believed that the group Archipelago. 
consisted of lands of considerable extent, some ot which, such as 
King Oscar Land and Petermann Land, he discerned to the north 
and to the west of Prince Rudolph Land. As it was impossible 
to extricate the Tegethoff from the ice, it was abandoned towards 
the end of the second year, and the explorers reached Novaya 
Zemlya in their boats. 

In 1880 and 1881 Mr. Leigh Smith, in his yacht Eira, reached 
the southern coast of Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago without 
much difficulty, and as he found a certain extent of free water 
to the south, he surveyed the coast up to Cape Lofley. He 
thus increased our knowledge of that group of islands, and proved 
that they could be reached by ships, but whilst the Eira was 
on the point of leaving that land for the second time, it was 
crushed by the ice near Cape Flora, and rapidly sank. The ship- 
wrecked sailors passed that winter, with only a small quantity of 
provisions, in a wretched hovel built of stone and with the wreckage 


the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

which they had been able to save from the ship, and in the 
following summer sailed in their boats to Novaya Zemlya, where 
they were taken on board a ship which had been sent to their 

The discoveries of Leigh Smith had thrown no light on the 
northern and western part of the group of islands forming Emperor 
Franz Josef Archipelago, and, in consequence, it was still believed 


that vast tracts of land extended to the north of the Arctic Sea. 
The English explorer, Jackson, thought, therefore, to take advantage 
of these lands by establishing depots of provisions there, and thus 
facilitate an advance in sledges towards the Pole. Having arrived 
with his ship, the Windward, into an open sea near Cape Grant, 
towards the middle of September, 1894 which was rather late in the 
season he was forced to build a station at Cape Flora, on Northbrook 
Island, and winter there. The Windward returned to Europe in 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 55 

the following summer ; two years later it again touched at Cape 
Flora, in order to communicate with the explorers, and again in 
1897, to bring them back to Europe. Jackson and his companions 
made three expeditions with sledges. In the first two he travelled 
towards the north, and, passing through the British Channel, reached 
81 20' N. lat. In the third he went towards the west, making 


the circuit of Alexandra Land, and ascertained the most westerly 
point of that group, to which he gave the name of Cape Mary 
Harmsworth. Jackson, in his first two journeys, was prevented 
from advancing towards the north by stretches of open sea. He 
succeeded, however, in making a hydrographical survey of the coasts 
of the north-west portion of the group, and cast doubts on the 
existence of any great continents whilst confirming, on the con- 

56 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

trary, that of a great expanse of sea, called by him, in honour of 
his Sovereign, Queen Victoria Sea. 

When, finally, Nansen came to the south of White Land 
(Hvidten Land), he added to our knowledge of the part already 
explored by Jackson that of the portion of the archipelago ex- 
I tending up to the islands which he discovered. He corrected the 
data of Payer, and also questioned the existence of Petermann Land 
and King Oscar Land. 

The voyages of the Eira and Windward, as well as those 
of the whalers ( Baleina and Diana, had proved that it was 
always easy to cross Barentz Sea as far as Emperor Franz Josef 
Archipelago, whether by advancing from Novaya Zemlya in an 
expanse of sea comprised between the 45th and 55th degrees of east 
longitude, or by following the south-east coast of Spitzbergen, and 
sailing thence directly to Alexandra Land. No ship had ever sailed 
in Queen Victoria Sea, nor was it known how to get there; 
but since, in accordance with the observations of Payer, Jackson, 
and Nansen made in different years during the spring, we supposed 
that that sea was navigable as far as Cape Fligely, we might 
hope to reach it either by advancing into the British Channel 
or by coasting towards the west along Emperor Franz Josef 

It was a splendid evening when we lost sight of the Dvina, and 
the ship, although heavily laden, steamed swiftly into the White 
Sea, then free from ice. The next day at mid-day, Cape Kanin 
was indistinctly seen through the mist ; and this was our last 
sight of Europe. 

In conformity with the practice of those who had preceded 
me, I had resolved to advance as far as a point situated in 
the yind degree of latitude and the 48th of east longitude, 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 57 

whence I intended to steer directly to Cape Flora. On leaving Cape 

Kanin a light north-westerly wind had sprung up, which soon 

freshened, and rendered the sea rather choppy. The 

ship began to roll, and this our guides and dogs 

found rather unpleasant. The former disappeared into their bunks, 

whilst the latter by their howling showed their annoyance at the 

The First Ice of 
the Arctic Sea. 


occasional splashings which they received. Luckily, the wind soon 
dropped, and the sea became calm, thus allowing both men and 
beasts to rest in peace. 

During the afternoon of July iyth we met ice for the first 
time, in the form of long strips, noteworthy merely as the fore- 
runners of larger masses. Larger masses were encountered in 
the night and towards eight o'clock on the following morning, 

58 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

during a thick fog, we were stopped by the ice-pack : in about 
75 14' N. lat. 

I began to walk impatiently up and down the deck, fixing my 
eyes on the impenetrable curtain which hindered us from seeing 
thirty yards before us. All around us reigned a profound 
stillness the air being only disturbed by the flight of some stormy 
petrels, or by the sound of pieces of ice falling into the 
channels opening between one ice-field and another. I felt 
uneasy at this loss of time, reflecting that it would be difficult for 
us to reach Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago if we began to 
meet with hindrances while still 300 miles away. It would be 
an unfortunate beginning for the expedition if we were unable to 
reach that archipelago, and obliged to winter in Barentz Sea. 

A slight breath of wind arose towards three in the afternoon, 
and all at once the fog disappeared. To the north-east and to the 
north-west one vast ice-field was to be seen from the deck, whilst 
to the south, from whence we came, the sea stretched away out of 
sight. The sun was sparkling on the points of the hummocks, 2 and 
reflected by the pools of fresh water which the thaw was forming 
on the ice-fields. When looking from the quarter-deck, it seemed as 
if it would be impossible to go farther, but on going up the 
rigging, or to the tops, or into the crow's-nest at the mast-head, 3 

1 The ice-pack is a mass of drifting ice, formed by separate ice-floes, of 
which the limits cannot be seen. It is called " open " when the pieces of ice 
do not touch; "closed" when they are pressed one against the other. 

- Heaps of ice of various heights caused by the pressure of the ice-fields. 

3 The whalers' look-out. It is an open barrel as high as a man. The 
bottom is movable, to allow entrance ; it is usually placed at the top of the 
main-mast or fore-mast, at a height of from fifteen to twenty yards above the 
sea-level. It is indispensable for ships sailing through ice, as from thence can 
be seen channels invisible from the deck. 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 59 

it could be seen, according as one went higher, that what appeared 
to be a boundless field of unbroken ice was a number of small 
floes, from 300 to 500 yards broad, separated by channels 
through which the ship could proceed. The captain went up 
into the crow's-nest, and with a powerful telescope tried to discover 
the best route to follow. We made reckonings to ascertain our 
position (on account of the fog, we had not been able to take 


observations for the last two or three days), and found that we 
had deviated from our course by three degrees towards the east, 
and were then in the 5ist meridian. 

Masses of ice soon began to strike against the hull and scrape 
along it. They were not, however, very thick or very solid, and the 
bow easily cut its way through. From the look-out in the crow's- 
nest the captain signalled to the engine-room to stop or go full speed 
ahead, and to the steersman to shift the helm to one side or the other. 

60 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

The ship passed on from one mirror-like expanse of water to another, 
and advanced at a good speed towards the north, a region which 
the very dark tint of the sky above it indicated was more free 
from ice. 1 Towards midnight, when the mate took the captain's 
place, we were sailing among ice-floes, and at six o'clock next morning, 
in 76 20' N. lat., the open sea lay stretched before us. The strong 
north-east winds which had prevailed during spring had probably 
driven the ice away from Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago, and, 
indeed, we saw no more of it, but continued our course in open water 
f until, during the night of July 2Oth, we sighted the misty outline of 
Northbrook Island. 

Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago lay before us, and we had 
reached it without much difficulty. As the vessel drew near, by a 
our First Anchor- clear bright night, lit up by the sun low down on the 

age in the Arctic 

Regions. horizon, we saw Northbrook Island rise slowly out of the 

sea a mass of white with a few dark headlands projecting out of the 
ice-cap which covered it. Then Cape Flora and Cape Gertrude, with 
their great masses of rock, rose slowly on the horizon, whilst in 
the west we began to make out Bell Island and Mabel Island, which 
resembled Northbrook Island. Drawing still nearer, we could dis- 
tinguish on a level tract of ground the huts left by Jackson's 
expedition and hear the cries of the sea-birds flying above the 
rocks. As we came up, some walruses which were lying on the ice 
plunged into the water and followed our ship. When we were close 
to the shore, the part of the island covered by ice was hidden from us 
by a high, pointed mountain. The verdant plain on which stood 
Jackson's huts, the open sea stretching away out of sight towards 

1 Even when water cannot be seen, its presence in the midst of the pack can 
be easily divined from the colour of the overhanging sky, which is dark at that 
spot, whilst the rest is lit up by the reflection of the ice. 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 61 

the south, the thousands of birds hovering over the rocks, and the 
brightness and warmth of the day, made the place seem less Arctic,, 
and Cape Flora made a favourable impression upon us. 

Our first thought was to go on shore, to visit the huts in which 
those other explorers had passed nearly three years cut off from 
civilisation, with no other object than to increase our geographical and 
scientific knowledge. We had also to seek for news of Wellman's 


expedition, which had landed the year before at Cape Tegethoff, in 
Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago, and was to be brought back to 
Europe during the present summer by the whaler Capella, which was 
to leave Norway shortly after the Polar Star. A stranded iceberg 
projected to about a hundred yards from the beach, 1 and we cast 
anchor near it, with the ship's bow i 50 yards from the shore. 

1 An iceberg is a mass of ice of considerable size, which becomes detached 
from the glaciers covering the Arctic lands, and drifts according to the currents 
and the winds. An iceberg, therefore, cannot be formed by the piling up of 
ice-floes. These form what are called floebergs. 

62 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

The bottom was of sand and rock. A narrow strip of ice fixed 
to this, which the wind had not been able to detach, nor the 
heat of the weather to melt, ran along the beach, which at a short 
distance from the sea rose to the height of seven or eight yards, and 
formed the edge of the level ground on which the huts of Jackson's 
expedition had been built. These huts were five in number three 
were made of logs, as is the custom in the north of Norway and 
in Siberia, whilst the other two were cottages of irregular shape, with 
double walls built of thin boards. The house where the expedition 
had lived was built against a great rock, which protected it from the 
north-west wind, and seemed to have been only recently abandoned 
by the explorers. The provisions remaining in the two circular huts, 
which had served as store-houses, were for the most part unfit 
for use. 

Half a mile away, and near the sea, the remains of the dwelling 
where the crew of the Eira had sought shelter were still to be seen. 
A few men had passed the winter there, uncertain of the future, but 
thanks to the energy and the capacity of their leaders, they maintained 
their courage, and safely returned to their country. What lessons 
might be gathered from these few remains of a dilapidated hut ! 

We thought that we were the first to arrive that year in that 
locality and were, therefore, much surprised to find the captain 
of the Capella had already been here, and left a note for us. 
That vessel had arrived on July 1 5th, and perceiving no traces of 
Wellman's expedition, had started again to look for them at Cape 
TegethofF. The Capella had steered more to the east than we had, 
and had always sailed in an open sea. 

Our observations were facilitated by a calm and bright day. 
Whilst we were taking them, the crew was busied in landing provisions 
for eight months and five tons of coal ; in case any misfortune 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 63 

happened to the ship, which would oblige us to retreat, these stores 
would enable us to subsist until the following summer. Owing to the 
never-ending twilight, it was a pleasure to remain on deck and observe 
the varied effects of light which followed each other swiftly across the 
heavens and the ease with which we had made so speedy a voyage 
augmented our hopes of being able to make the Polar Star pass the 
winter in a high latitude. 

On July 22nd, with Captain Evensen, I ascended to the top of 


the cape in the direction ot Miers Sound, to find out if from 
that point it might be possible to perceive British Channel. We 
were enveloped in fog while on the summit, but when it lifted, 
Miers Sound was seen to be completely closed by ice, near 
Windward Island. Bates Sound, on the contrary, was free, and 
from the tint of the sky it might be conjectured that Nightingale 
Sound was also free from ice almost as far as the northern end of 
Bruce Island. The port where the Eira had been sunk, when seen 
from on high, appeared to be a good anchorage, although open to the 

64 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

ice descending from Nightingale Sound. The sea was open towards 
the south. When Nansen had come to Cape Flora towards the end 
of May, and when in the preceding year the whaler Fridtjof had 
brought Wellman's expedition to Cape Tegethoff, British Channel 
was found closed by the ice in the direction of De Bruyne Sound ; 
when we arrived at Cape Flora much ice was seen in that 
direction from the crow's-nest. I was, therefore, convinced that De 
Bruyne Sound was probably closed, and as I had seen that Nightingale 
Sound was open as far as the north of Bruce Island, decided on 
advancing to the north of British Channel by that route. Later 
on I bitterly regretted my decision ; in the Arctic regions, more 
than elsewhere, one should never be tired of keeping a look-out, for 
an expedition while advancing can be only guided by the eyes. 

On returning to the ship we found Captain Cagni taking pendu- 
lum observations. He had shut himself up in one of Jackson's huts, 
and lay stretched on the earth watching the swing of the pendulum a 
position which was anything but pleasant, considering the temperature, 
and the sheet of ice which covered the ground. During the night a 
wind set in from the south. The ice began to drift against the coast, 
and rendered our position so unsafe that in the morning we were 
obliged to raise anchor and seek shelter in Miers Sound. An iceberg 
of moderate size, but large enough to make our launches run some 
danger, was for some time a very inconvenient neighbour. The 
weather was bad on the 2jrd, and no work could be carried on. The 
wind dropped during the night ; but on the following morning it 
began to blow with still greater force, from the south-west and from 
the north-west alternately in strong gusts, on account of which it was 
thought prudent to keep the fires lighted and the engines ready. 
Captain Cagni, who had gone on shore that morning to bring back 
the instruments, had much difficulty in coming on board. In the 


In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 65 

afternoon the wind appeared to abate. Four launches were drawn up 
on the shore, and we could have left Cape Flora had not a thick fog 
hindered us from continuing our voyage. 

On July 26th, though the fog still continued, I resolved, 
nevertheless, to raise anchor, and to enter Nightingale Sound. We 


went on, with our eyes fixed on the bow ot the vessel, whilst 
soundings were taken every half-hour to ascertain the nature of 
the bottom. We passed close to a few icebergs, which we try to pass 

through British 

were not very large, and were flat on the top. A light channel from 

1 Nightingale 

breeze cleared away the fog, and allowed the sun to 8ound - 

light up Nightingale Sound, through which we were about to 

proceed. Alexandra Land appeared to the west, entirely covered 

VOL. i. 


66 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

with ice, and ending in the sea by an ice-cliff, whilst to the east 
the rocky coast to the south of Bell and Mabel Islands stood out 
sharply against the sky in dark tints. Ahead of us the channel 
appeared to be free from ice, and we continued to advance at full 
speed, stopping only every half-hour to take soundings. On the low 
headland of Bell Island could be seen the wooden hut left by 
Leigh Smith ; and near Bruce Island strips of rotten ice made us 
slow down. On the approach of the ship numerous seals dis- 
appeared into their rocky retreats, while groups of walruses remained 
motionless. We succeeded in bringing the vessel near to a group 
of three, which were fast asleep. Several shots awoke them, when 
they glided instantly into the sea, and the mass of ice on which 
they had lain, freed from their weight, rocked up and down in every 
direction. One had been mortally wounded, and our men jumped 
on the ice with harpoons to prevent it from sinking. We skinned 
the enormous animal when it was hoisted on deck with some diffi- 
culty, and brought its skin back to Italy. It was the only walrus 
that we killed. 

We continued to advance through Nightingale Sound, gradually 
slackening our speed through the ice-fields, which we found more 
closely packed as we made our way towards the north. The Polar Star 
was at last completely imprisoned, and unable to stir ; but it was only 
for a few hours, as a little later, during the night, and near the 
northern extremity of Bruce Island, we were once more in a large 
expanse of smooth water. Although the fog had again become thick, 
and it was not prudent to advance, I was still determined to go on, 
and we proceeded thus for more than half an hour, having always open 
water ahead. The unexpected opening out of the ice which had taken 
place during the night led me to believe that I had passed British 
Channel while in the fog, without even seeing its shores, when a 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 67 

violent shock caused all my illusions to vanish. The captain came 
down on deck and said quietly, " We have got to the end of the 
navigable region." "What a strange land," I exclaimed, "where we 
ceaselessly pass from hopes to delusions, and from delusions to hopes ! " 
It was only the beginning of my trials ; patience and perseverance 
were the virtues most frequently required through this voyage. 

The next day was calm and clear. To the west could be 
made out the great glacier which covers Alexandra Land, and all 
Clement Markham Bay ; to the south, Bruce Island ; in the distance, 


Northbrook Island, which, seen from the north, presented the Arctic 
appearance of all the other islands in this locality, and Hooker 
Island was seen indistinctly to the east. British Channel, in a westerly 
direction, showed a level stretch of ice which, judging by the absence 
of hummocks, did not seem to have been subjected to any pressure. It 
was impossible to advance, and it therefore became necessary to attempt 
to reach Queen Victoria Sea by doubling Cape Mary Harmsworth, 
a route which ever since our departure I had always considered as 
presenting the greatest likelihood of success. 

As the state of Barentz Sea was so favourable, since the pack 

68 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

had drifted 240 miles from Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago, it 
we return to was probable that the navigation of that sea would 

Nightingale r , ,. . , . . 

sound after not be round too difficult, and it was there that in 

having failed to 

advance towards ! 8 07 the Windward had made its way beyond Cape 

Cape Mary J 

Harmsworth. Mary Harmsworth. 

We again made Nightingale Sound. The glaciers were spark- 
ling to right and left of us ; the walruses, startled by the shots and 
the presence of the ship, had disappeared. We passed near Cape 
Forbes, and from thence followed the coast in the direction of Cape 
Grant. To the south of Alexandra Land could be seen a white 
reflection of the sky ; might it not be the indication of an ice-field ? 
On arriving at Cape Grant we were obliged to acknowledge that, on 
the contrary, it was the ice-pack, which stretched away from the coast, 
out of sight, towards the south and west. After going a short 
distance farther, the fog obliged us to stop. The extensive ice-fields 
which surrounded us were of old ice, a mile and -more broad, 
and more than two yards thick, and we were therefore obliged to 
steer carefully in order to avoid collisions which might injure the ship. 
We gained a few miles more on July 28th, until we arrived in the 
neighbourhood of Cape Crowther, but without any hope of being 
able to go farther. 

If the state of the ice were the same as that which had been met 
with by Jackson, it stood to reason that since we had arrived near 
Cape Mary Harmsworth, we should have waited for a favourable 
opportunity of continuing our journey into Queen Victoria Sea. But 
since we had been stopped near Cambridge Bay, and as we should 
have to travel in that direction, in a year unfavourable to navigation 
judging by the obstacles we had already encountered, it was not. 
advisable to wait, and then to persist in advancing by that route. 
Moreover, by following that coast-line, we went farther and farther 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 69 

from the more northern of the Emperor Franz Josef Islands, and 
in case we found it impossible to reach Queen Victoria Sea, the sledge 
expedition would be forced to traverse a much greater distance in 
order to be able to make use of the stores left on the islands. By 
going back into British Channel we would, on the contrary, remain 
almost on the same meridian as the lands lying to the north ; and 
even supposing that we were not able to reach them, we might feel 
Jess uneasy in leaving the ship in the channel and carrying out the 
expedition with sledges. Though I had come at first with the in- 
tention of attempting to reach Queen Victoria Sea at any cost, after 
all other attempts had failed by circumnavigating Alexandra Land in 
a westerly direction, I was constrained to change my plans when I 
found myself checked so soon, and to turn towards British Channel, 
either to pass through it or to winter there. 

All these thoughts were passing through my mind whilst I looked 
from the crow's-nest over the immense ice-fields which lay stretched 
around us, and through which we were making our way towards Cape 
Grant. All their details were distinctly visible from aloft, and the 
eye could follow the ridges formed by the pressure of the ice and the 
channels which intersected them in every direction. The captain 
suggested to me to explore De Bruyne Sound, but I preferred, on the 
contrary, to return to Nightingale Sound, in order not to lose more 
time. My impatience made me commit another error of judgment, 
and persevere in that already made when I was on the summit of 
Cape Flora. On the evening of the same day (July 28th) we were 
again moored to the ice situated to the north of Bruce Island, but 
more to the east and to the south of the point which we had reached 
on the previous day. 


In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 




WE were in the midst of very extensive ice-fields ; the ice, which 
was about thirty inches thick, could be easily crossed by 
sledges, but was a serious barrier to the further progress of the ship. 
Unlike, however, the ice which two days previously we NearBruce 
had seen more to the north, near Cape Peterhead, these ofth^bay 1 ^ 
fields were crossed by pressure -ridges and intersected by 
lanes, which led us to suppose that navigation might be possible. 


For three days (July 29th, 3Oth, and jist) we remained near 
the northern extremity of Bruce Island, in perfectly smooth water, 
entirely surrounded by ice-fields, and almost always enshrouded in fog, 
which was often very thick. We took advantage of this enforced 
rest to give the dogs some exercise. We feared that we might have 

74 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

had to assist at a furious combat, but they were so surprised to find 
themselves at liberty that they took no notice of each other. 

Our days were passed in the following manner ; We rose 
between six and seven, and met at eight o'clock for our first breakfast, 
consisting of cooked ham or compressed meat, oatmeal, butter, and 
coffee or chocolate on alternate days. The morning was always spent 
in preparing the dried fish for the dogs' food (by cutting it up and 
steeping it in water), and in cleaning out the cages where they lived, 
which was rendered easy by the tarpaulin which lined the bottom. 

At mid-day we met again for dinner, which consisted of soup, 
two dishes of meat, and dried fruit. From two to five, whatever work 
had to be done on board was performed, for which, after deducting 
the officers, the engineers, the firemen, and the cook, there remained 
only seven persons available, and there was always plenty to do in 
mending the partitions of the kennels, at which the dogs were con- 
tinually gnawing. The dogs were given i Ib. i oz. 10 dr. of fish 
before our supper, which took place at half-past six, and consisted of 
soup, a dish of meat, and preserved fruits. We drank tea at our morning 
repast, and in the evening each of us had a glass of wine. The end 
of the day was spent in walking up and down on the deck or on the 
ice, and in listening to the gramophone or the piano. On account of 
the prolongation of daylight, it was sometimes late at night when we 
withdrew to our cabins. On Sunday, prayers were said together, and 
Captain Cagni used to give a short address. 

The temperature was not Arctic. The thermometer was always 
above freezing point, and calm weather was the rule, but it also 
brought on fog, which hindered all navigation. We were still clothed 
as on our departure from Archangel, with the exception that we 
wore high sailors' boots, which kept our feet dry while walking 
among the pools on the ice. 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 75 

August ist. The weather has at last become clear in the 
morning ; the wind blows at first from every point of the compass, 

and then a breeze sets in from the east. Since we have First Pressure 
, . , , , . . of the Ice. We 

been in the channel, the easterly and westerly winds despair of ever 

passing British. 

have brought clear weather, whilst a northerly or channel, 
southerly wind carries fog with it. Ought that to be attributed 
to the open water to be found near Cape Flora and in Queen 
Victoria Sea ? The fog clears away at last, and we can see the shores 
of the lake in which we are shut up. 


From the crow's-nest we can see other lakes towards the north- 
west on the other side of a narrow strip of ice, but it seems impossible 
to break through the two ice-fields which surround us. We can only 
try to continue our journey towards the north-west by forcing a way 
with the bow of our ship through the ice which closes to the north the 
open water in which we are lying. The pressure of the two ice-fields 
which have met at this point has made them overlap and form a 
pressure-ridge for a distance of about a hundred yards. By backing two 
or three ship's lengths, and then steaming forward at full speed, the 

On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Polar Star breaks the ice for ten or fifty yards at every shock, and 
then remains embedded in the fragments. The ship can usually be 
extricated by backing the engines, and when that does not succeed, 
our crew goes down on the ice and clears away the broken ice around 
the ship with long poles, thus allowing the engines to back. After 
frequently repeating this manoeuvre the ship remains at last com- 
pletely hemmed in, and can be no longer backed, which seems at first 
to be the consequence of the pressure of the masses of ice broken 
by each shock, until we remark a slight movement in the ice-field 
to our left Much against our will, the ship unfortunately remains 
situated in the line of pressure, whilst a few hundred yards away, both 
in front and to the rear, she would be in complete safety. The ice- 
field to our left scrapes slowly along the sides of the ship, and, 
floating forward, destroys the result of all our work, by closing up 
again the passage before us. It then stops, remains motionless for a 
few hours, and moves on again towards five o'clock, while still press- 
ing on us strongly. The ice bends, it is lifted straight on end, and 
runs along the sides of the ship, rising until it touches the tafFrail; at 
the stern the rudder receives the full force of the concussion, and 
bends towards the left, creaking from top to bottom. The "Polar 
Star heels over five or six degrees. 

Our conversation, whilst we are at table, is drowned by the noise 
of the creaking of the rudder, and we listen attentively to every 
sound, though we do not like to seem to notice it. The rudder 
continues to groan under the pressure of the ice, and from time to 
time the vessel receives slight shocks ; then all is silent. But after 
a few minutes the noise begins again. After supper the ice-fields 
begin once more to crack and to move. The pressure is stronger 
than before, and it is now perpendicular to the sides of the ship, which, 
being driven sideways, is carried about twenty yards to the left, and 


In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 77 

breaks with her sides, instead of with her bow, the ice, which rocks, 
sinks, and disappears beneath her. The rudder, which previously had 
been driven to the left, is now carried to the right, and after this last 
effort the pressure luckily ceases. 

August 2nd. We are this morning moored to another ice-field, 
at about 300 yards from our previous position. During the night 
the ice opened ahead of us, and we cleared the barrier which had 
caused us so much fatigue yesterday, and no little excitement. It 


often happens thus in these regions ; many hours of labour are vainly 
spent in attempting to force a passage through ice which does not 
move, or which closes up again, whilst later on it opens out in a 
moment, from some cause or another, and we can proceed without any 
effort. To what is due this opening and closing of the ice-fields ? To 
the tides, to the currents, or to the winds ? We take care to keep 
far away from the point where the pressure is felt. The sky is 
again clouded, and there is a light breeze. 

7 8 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

In the evening we take a walk towards an iceberg a few 
miles from the ship, but we cannot reach it ; the ice is broken all 
around, and we hear it groan. The movement of this colossus of 
ice is not the same as that of the ice-fields which surround it ; on 
the side towards which it advances the ice-floes are piled up, and 
on the other it leaves behind it a small space of open water. On 
the ice in the neighbourhood are seen the circular holes made by 
the seals coming to the surface to breathe, though we do not 
perceive any. The ice-fields are level ; some are small, and others 
several square miles in extent. Where they meet, they form a line 
of piled-up blocks of ice of varying height, or a channel of varying 
width, according as at that moment the pressure is felt or not. 

August yd. The day is cloudy, and, the ice being compact, 
the dogs are let out. Shortly after, the sky becomes clear and 
we perceive that channels are being rapidly formed. As ' it takes 
some time to bring the dogs on board, I am doubtful whether I 
ought to advance or not ; but seeing that the channels grow wider, 
I decide to go forward, and to leave the dogs on the ice, taking 
them up later on at the spot where we shall stop, which certainly 
cannot be far off. I leave them, therefore, and along with them 
Lieutenant Querini, two guides, and a sailor ; the dogs follow us 
and go faster than we can, as we are forced to break our way 
through the ice with the prow of the ship. The points where 
there is any pressure are passed without much difficulty ; there is 
a succession of stretches of open water, and as we think that the 
ice will soon stop our progress, we continue to advance towards 
the north-east. The fog returns and makes us lose sight of Lieu- 
tenant Querini and his companions, who have been stopped by 
some channel. In about half an hour, seeing that only a few 
obstacles impeded our progress, I begin to feel uneasy as to 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 79 

getting our comrades on board and the dogs we had left behind. 
After remaining several days without moving, I can hardly believe 
that I am continuing my voyage in the right direction, but the 
anxiety I feel for my comrades and the dogs obliges me, although 
reluctantly, to stop the ship. Captain Cagni goes back in a launch 
through the channel through which we had passed, and after a few 
minutes he, too, disappears in the fog. Captain Evensen and I remain 


on deck, watting either till the launch returns or until the fog lifts 
and allows us to see those we have left behind. An hour passes 
while waiting, and the ice-fields close again. As we are impatient 
to go on, the whistle is sounded from time to time, in the hope of 
receiving some answer, but we hear nothing. I begin to fear 
that Captain Cagni had not been able to reach Lieutenant Querini 
with his boat, and I am on the point of steaming back as far as 
I can to look for them, when the fog lifts for a moment, and I 
see them all together about two miles away. It takes an hour 

80 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to bring them up to the ship and get them on board, and when, 
at seven o'clock, we are again able to go forward, the favourable 
opportunity has passed, and we are obliged to stop where we are. 
The dogs have made me lose an advance of some miles, and 
henceforth I shall keep them on board until we arrive at our winter 

We are enclosed as in a lake. To the north we can see 
another extensive ice-field several miles long, to the edge of which 
smaller fields are joined on. We must continue our advance along 
the larger field, and thus pass from one space of open water to 
another, breaking our way with the prow at those points where 
the smaller fields press upon the larger. At our present moorings 
we are sure of passing a quiet night. Shortly after going to bed 
the sound of persons running on deck makes me rush out of my 
cabin. A bear has come to greet us for the first time ; it can be 
seen running away, followed by nearly all the crew. I see it dis- 
appear in the distance, and hear several shots, and then return to 
my cabin, weary and dissatisfied with my day's work. 

August 4//2. On getting up I hear that the bear had been killed 
by Lieutenant Querini. Its rlesh is given to the dogs to eat, for we 
have still too much fresh beef to care to feed on bear. Towards 
eight o'clock, as the horizon was tolerably clear, and the ice showed 
signs of opening out again, we made a further move. We can 
only see to a distance of three or four miles round the ship ; the 
ice appears more broken towards the east, but towards the north 
and west it is quite compact. The captain has not much faith in 
Queen Victoria Sea : he is not satisfied with our position, and he 
does not look forward with pleasure to passing the winter in British 
Channel. I completely share his opinion on that subject. It would 
be a bad beginning to the expedition if we were to pass the winter 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 81 

off a coast which has already been explored, and then travel in 
sledges through places which Jackson said were better suited for 
ships than for sledges. But what can be done ? It seems im- 
possible to pass through this channel in the present year. If we 
had at least a fine day to see to a distance all around us ! 

We remain motionless from half-past ten till two, waiting for the 

movement of the ice. It is necessary to watch unceasingly, so as 
not to lose an opportunity of advancing as soon as we see that the 
ice-fields begin to recede from each other. At two o'clock we again 
begin to assail with our prow the point where the ice-fields touch, 
and we were stopped this morning, and with some success. We 
do not, however, make much progress, owing to the difficulties we 
VOL. i. 6 

82 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

encounter, and the slight feeling of discouragement which begins 
to come over us, and at half-past four we are again moored in another 
space of open water about half a mile from our position of this morning. 
August 5///. The fog continues both night and morning. 
Lieutenant Querini and the doctor are down on the ice, and go forward 

we sight the to see ^ tnere ^ s anv P mt at which the vessel can pass. 
As we lose sight of them, the sun appears slowly through 
the fog, and our horizon widens. Little by little the day becomes 
perfectly clear. The islands to the west are completely covered with 
ice ; Eaton, Scott Keltic, and Hooker Islands can be made out 
towards the east ; they are for the most part free from snow, and 
their coasts, which fall sheer to the sea, give them the same appearance 
as Northbrook Island when seen from the south. Some icebergs are 
to be seen towards the north in the direction of Cape Murray, and 
others are perceived near Cape Peterhead, but none to the east. 
I remain for some time with the captain in the crow's-nest to seek 
tor some indication of free water far away towards the north, in 
the direction of Queen Victoria Sea, which might encourage me to 
push on towards that part. An attentive scrutiny only produces a 
disheartening result ; nothing is to be seen but extensive ice-fields 
divided by narrow channels, through which it is now impossible to 
proceed. These channels trend towards the east ; to the north the 
ice seems impenetrable, and the way by which we have come is 
closed up. A few days previously it had seemed to me that one 
day of fine weather might put an end to my indecision ; the fine 
weather has come at last, and my indecision has disappeared, but 
only to leave me convinced that we cannot go any farther. 

At breakfast we are all in very low spirits ; the barometer has 
indeed risen, on account of the fine weather, but our spirits, on the 
contrary, have fallen very low. Towards the evening we try to spring 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 83 

a mine of guncotton ; the lane to be opened should be about fifteen 
yards wide, but as the ice has been heaped up by the pressure of the 
fields, it is here about four feet thick. The mine makes a loud 
report, but gives no practical result ; we therefore give up the idea 
of employing this method, and shall wait to advance until the ice- 
fields open out. 

The captain seems to have taken up his abode in the crow's- 


nest ; for the last two hours 1 have seen him from the deck fixing 
his eyes repeatedly towards the same direction. Has he at last 
descried open water in Queen Victoria Sea ? Whilst I am getting 
ready to join him, he comes down hurriedly and points with his hand 
towards the north-east. On reaching the deck, he tells me that there 
is a ship near Scott Keltic Island. At first it seems to me impossible. 
I go up into the crow's-nest, and see that not only is there a ship in 

84 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

that direction, but that her sails are spread, and that she is under way, 
which is a certain proof that she is in open water that we cannot see, 
and of the existence of which we cannot even find a sign in the tint of 
the sky. The ship must be a whaler ; since it is in that locality it 
must have got there easily, and it is, therefore, all the more humiliating 
to us to be thus stopped in the middle of the British Channel, whilst 
it would have been easy to arrive to the north of Eaton Island by 
another route. We must, at all costs, enter the open water which 
is to the east of us, in order to arrive at the same latitude as the 
whaler by the same route it has followed outside the ice. The ship 
we perceive must be the Cape/la, but on account of the distance we can 
only see its masts, and therefore cannot be certain. 

Towards five o'clock in the afternoon the ice-fields show signs of 
opening, and without losing time we attack with the prow of our ship 
the pressure-ridge which stopped us this morning. Thanks to our 
wounded pride, our dogged pertinacity, and the gradual opening up of 
the channels, we succeed, after about an hour's toil, in bringing the 
vessel beyond the point of pressure into another open space. A long 
channel leads from this in the direction of Eaton Island ; beyond it we 
find a belt of thicker ice, through which we can only pass by gradually 
gaining a few feet at a time. Two hours after sunset we are six 
or seven miles nearer Eaton Island ; the ice is beginning to hem us 
in once more, and we must stop. We profit by this delay to write 
our last dispatches. The ship in sight has been made out to be 
the Capella. 

August 6th. At nine o'clock, as the weather is as clear as 
yesterday, we resume our progress towards Eaton Island, between 
which and Hooker Island we can see the Capella under sail in 
the distance. The ice, which is less compact than yesterday, offers 
but slight resistance, so that we can advance rapidly. At twelve 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 85 

o'clock we are a few hundred yards from Eaton Island, in open 
water which stretches away to British Channel to the north, and to 
the east of the island. 

We steer towards the Capella, and when near it we signal to 
know if Wellman's expedition is on board. A launch, in which a 


man who has the appearance of an invalid is lying, with one leg 
stretched out, leaves the Capella and comes towards us. Although 
very dissimilar from the photographs which I had seen in the 
newspapers, I recognise Wellman. As the companion ladder is 
not in its place, we have to lift him on board. The doctor helps 

86 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

him into our saloon, where he is joined by his three companions 
Dr. Edward Hofman, doctor and naturalist to the expedition ; Mr. 
Baldwin, the meteorologist ; and Mr. Harlan, the physicist. We 
question them eagerly, and learn that Wellman had met with an 
accident shortly before arriving at Crown Prince Rudolph Island ; 
that the expedition was forced to return, as it had lost some of its 
provisions when pressed by the ice-floes, and that it had reached 
its highest latitude near the above-mentioned island. They inform 
us with deep regret of the death of the Norwegian, Bernt Bentzen, 
on Wilczek Land, during the winter. Lieutenant Querini and our 
doctor show them over the ship, and on seeing our dogs Wellman 
kindly places at my disposal those which he has still on board, but 
I cannot accept them, as I have already too many on the Polar Star. 

Meanwhile, Captain Stokken, of the Capella, the father of our 
engineer, has also come on board the Polar Star. He is chatting 
gaily with Captain Evensen, and expressing his astonishment at the 
transformations undergone by the Jason. As he tells me that from 
the dark tint of the sky he is inclined to believe that the sea is open 
up to the spot where Nansen had wintered, I am impatient to 
go on, so as not to lose the advantage of a clear horizon on such 
a fine day. We and the Americans drink to each other's health 
we wishing them a happy return to their country, and they wishing 
us a prosperous voyage and the two ships sail away. The Capella 
steers southwards to return to civilisation, and we penetrate still 
farther towards unknown and solitary regions. 

We steer for Maria Elizabeth Island. The eastern coast of 

British Channel seems less desolate than the western, and in many 

Queen victoria places is free from snow. W T e pass through strips of ice 

coming down from Allan Young Sound between Hooker 

and Koettlitz Islands. Few icebergs are met with; they are smaller than 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 87 

those we found to the south of Northbrook Island, and not more than 
ten to fifteen yards high. British Channel is closed by the ice only 
in its western portion, from Eaton Island to the northern extremity of 
Northbrook Island, and as far as Cape Murray, whilst it is perfectly 
free to the east of this imaginary line. The thick fog, which came 
on in the north-west, which we enter about an hour after leaving the 
Capella, prevents us from making out Prince George Land and the 
other islands seen by Jackson in that direction. 


We continue to advance at full speed, while keeping a very 
careful look-out ; from time to time a violent concussion, which is telt 
all over the ship, shows us that during the fog we sometimes mistake 
a large piece of ice for one of smaller dimensions. 

Our compasses are out of order. For standard compass \ve 
have Magnaghi's liquid compass, the regulation compass of the 
Italian Navy. In this the floating card has been made very light, 
so that pure alcohol can be used as the liquid, and thus all risk 

88 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

of freezing is avoided. At the stern we have a Thompson com- 
pass, which formerly belonged to the Jason, and until now has given 
satisfaction, but to-day we cannot even reckon on it. 

When at a short distance from Koettlitz Island I do not feel 
reassured in this very thick fog. A white line is ahead of us, which is 
at first taken for an ice-field, but as it is seen to stretch. toi right and 


left of the prow, it is suddenly perceived to be the coast, and the 
vessel is brought to at a few yards from the shore. To keep away 
from Koettlitz Island we resume our course towards the west, but as 
we turn again to the north soon after, we find ourselves in the same 
situation, and thus we twice run the risk of being wrecked. Now that 
we are in open water, we must still continue to advance through the 

In Barentz Sea and Queen Victoria Sea 89 

fog until we find ourselves near the ice, and then select the route 
to follow as soon as the fog lifts. 

August jt/i. We steam all night until about two in the morning, 
when we are stopped in foggy weather near Maria Elizabeth Island by 
thick ice ahead. The close ice-pack appears to extend up to the island, 
and when the fog lifts for a few moments we can find no means of 
going farther ; but we have already made considerable progress. A few 


days ago I found it difficult to escape from British Channel, and 
now we have reached the same parallel of latitude as that where 
Nansen passed the winter. We are not, however, satisfied with this 
result, and our hopes are now directed, not only to Prince Rudolph 
Island, but even still farther to the north, to Petermann Land, which, 
it is to be hoped, exists, and is within our power to reach. 

The fog is so thick in the morning and in the afternoon that 
we are obliged to remain motionless at the limit to which the open 
water extends. 

At nine o'clock in the evening, by a light easterly wind, 
which we hail with joy as the forerunner of clear weather, the fog 
lifts somewhat, and shows us Maria Elizabeth Island, and the neigh- 
bouring headlands of Salisbury, Fisher, and MacClintock Islands. 
We steer at once so as to try to pass to the east of Maria Elizabeth 

90 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Island ; the channel seems free, and we enter it at full speed. The 
northern part of the island is completely covered with snow, but 
the most prominent capes of Salisbury Island are all uncovered. We 
steer for Cape Norway ; the two fjords to the east and the great 
glaciers in the distance are distinctly visible. On the mountains of 
Salisbury Island are seen verdant declivities, which suggest the idea 
of putting in there. We would wish to seek for the remains of 
Nansen's hut, but the bright weather and the open water urge us to 
proceed, and we do not even leave a depot at this spot, as we at 
first intended. We pass outside the small islands situated near 
Cape Mill, and between them and Neale, Harley, and Ommaney 
Islands, and continue our journey rapidly towards the north. 
There is ice to the east of Maria Elizabeth and Ommaney 
Islands, and from the latter it trends away to the north, leaving 
towards the north-east a large belt of navigable water, with here 
and there some strips of ice coming from the channels between 
Jackson, Leigh Smith, and Karl Alexander Islands. The thick 
fog sets in again. Our single idea is to keep on our course with- 
out losing a minute, and to take advantage of this favourable 
moment to push on as far as possible to the north. Towards seven 
o'clock we sight land ahead, which, judging by the route we have 
followed, is probably Karl Alexander Island, and it obliges us to 
change our course to the west. Shortly afterwards we again steer 
towards the north-east, and crossing a rather broad belt of broken ice, 
we are again in open water. The horizon ahead is overclouded. After 
nine o'clock we expect every moment to sight Prince Rudolph Island ; 
but at mid-day we are obliged to lie to in the fog, unable to see the 
land, or even the ice. 

We pass that evening and night in a dense fog. The next day 
the weather is clearer, and at intervals we can see a white land 

In Barentz Sea and Qjaeen Victoria Sea 91 

towards the south-east, but nothing to the east or to the north-east, 
where we think Prince Rudolph Island may lie. We begin to 
fear that we have gone past it. We take the height of The Polar star 

. , . reaches 82 4 

the sun at mid-day on an ice-held and, to our great joy, N. iat. 

the result of our calculations shows us that the Polar Star is in 

latitude 82 4'. The land we see is, therefore, Prince Rudolph 


After the Frarn, which drifted as far as 85 47' N., and after the 


Alert and the Polaris^ which reached, respectively, 82 27' and 82 16', 
the Polar Star thus takes the fourth place among the ships that have 
gone nearest to the Pole. Our vessel has reached the northern 
extremity of Prince Rudolph Island twenty-seven days after leaving 
Archangel, including five days passed at Cape Flora ; and here I may 
remark that, if we had advanced into De Bruyne Sound instead of 
repeatedly attempting to pass by Nightingale Sound, we should have 

92 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

reached the same latitude whilst sailing always in open water, except 
for a few hours. 

The Polar Star has thus with the greatest ease reached Emperor 
Franz Josef Archipelago, which in 1873 Payer had thought so difficult 
to approach, and has followed its coast as far as Cape Fligely. 

Prince Rudolph Island 


BEFORE leaving the position we had reached, we carefully 
observed the horizon, which was clear enough to let us see to a 
distance of twenty miles. To the north the sea was Tne most norti _ 
covered with ice, through which we might still have Emperor Franz 

Josef Archi- 

proceeded for a few miles, and to the south there was peiago. 

a wide expanse of open water. Prince Rudolph Island was the 

only land in sight. 

As we were more to the north and to the west than the point 


reached by Payer, we were more favourably situated for seeing 
Petermann Land and King Oscar Land, which Payer thought he 
sighted from Cape Fligely on a rather misty day. Although I 

96 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

hardly expected to find them, yet, at times when I felt more sanguine, 
I had entertained a faint hope that they might perhaps exist, and 
that I could reach them with my ship, or at least leave a store 
of provisions there. These hopes had now completely vanished, 
and it was therefore necessary to seek an anchorage at Prince 
Rudolph Island. Silence reigned on board, but the joy caused 
by the arrival of our ship in such a high latitude might be read 
in the eyes of the crew. Since, after so many days of uncertainty, 
we had been able to pass through British Channel and reach Prince 
Rudolph Island without much difficulty, I was led to hope that, 
with good-will and perseverance, the other obstacles which that region 
where our undertaking was to be fully developed w r as likely to 
present, might also be surmounted. Since we had brought our ship 
as far as the most northern point of the archipelago, I felt confident 
that our expedition would continue to be equally prosperous. 

A light breeze was blowing from the east, and the sky was 
overcast in that direction when at one o'clock in the afternoon we set 

out to the south-east towards the island. After two hours 
Cape Fligely. 

and a half we were off the most northern cape of the 
island, which Payer had reached in 1873, and had named Cape Fligely. 1 
While comfortably seated on the deck of the Polar Star, we viewed 
with profound interest the place where, twenty-five years before, Payer 

1 The note left by Payer at Cape Fligely ran thus: "Some members of the 
Austro-Hungarian expedition to the North Pole have attained their highest point at 
82 5' N., after a journey of seventeen days from their ship, which is imprisoned in 
the ice at a latitude of 79 51'. They saw along the coast a small extent of open sea 
surrounded by ice, and stretching to north and north-west towards lands which may 
be approximately reckoned to be sixty or seventy miles from this point, but it was 
impossible to determine how they were united to Prince Rudolph Island. On 
returning to the ship we all intend to abandon it and to return home. The state of 
the ship, which we have no hope of extricating from the ice, and the many cases 
of illness on board, oblige me to take this step." 

Prince Rudolph Island 97 

and his companions, after undergoing great fatigues and privations, had 
planted the Austro-Hungarian flag. We felt the warmest admiration 
for the men who, conquering every obstacle, had reached such a high 
latitude, without giving a thought to their ship, which the drifting ice 


might carry away, or of the mode in which they might hope to make 
their retreat, which in the end was accomplished only by means of 
their boats. 

Cape Fligely, which rises to 230 or 260 feet above the level of 
the sea, is crowned by a table-land, and was the only part of the island 
VOL. i. 7 

On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

left free from snow. To the north-east a small, rocky buttress 
with a pointed summit projected into the sea. To the east and 
west of the cape the glacier, which covered all the northern part of the 
island, sloped gently to the coast, where it ended in an ice-cliff. To 
the east no trace could be discerned of Cape Sherard Osborn, nor 
of Cape Buda-Pesth, nor of the islands seen by Nansen. 

We steamed on towards the south-east, until the ice-pack along 
the island checked our progress. The coast turned towards the 
south, tending certainly to join Cape Rath, which Payer had already 
seen. It was thus certain that Prince Rudolph Island was only 
a small island and that the latitude of Cape Fligely could not be 
82 5' N. as Payer had stated, 1 since we had been obliged to 
sail about fifteen miles towards the south-east, from the point 
where our ship had lain that morning, to reach it. We then 
steered to the west, towards Cape Germania. 

The coast was still formed by an ice-cliff, in some places 
twenty-five or thirty feet high, trending towards the west-south-west, 
and curving slightly inwards before reaching Cape Germania. This 
caps rises 300 feet above the level of the sea ; its summit was then 
free from snow, and, seen from the north-east, it presented the 
appearance of a trapezium. We recognised Cape Saulen, so named 
by Payer from its two bare and rocky pillars a striking feature 
in these regions, where the icy covering effaces all natural char- 
acteristics. After passing Cape Saulen we saw Cape Auk, and Teplitz 
Bay came in view. 

Our first impressions of Teplitz Bay were not favourable. From 
Cape Saulen the coast trended towards the south-east, 

Teplitz Bay. 

and consisted of a steep ice-cliff about thirty feet high ; 
it was prolonged towards the east by a rocky beach which took 
1 The latitude of Cape Fligely was found later to be 81 50' 43". 

Prince Rudolph Island 101 

up all the north side of the bay, and it turned again to the south 
with an ice-cliff, extending almost uninterruptedly as far as Cape 
Auk but varying in height. The rocks of Cape Saulen formed 


the northern boundary of the bay, and at the same time the extreme 
western point of the island. From south to west the bay was open 
to the pressure of the ice-pack ; the western side of the island 

IO2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

was entirely covered with an immense glacier descending from the 
interior down to the coast, and the ground was visible only in a few 
places. The few living creatures consisted merely of some birds near 
Cape Saulen. 

Seen from the south, the bay wore a more pleasing aspect ; its 
northern side, exposed to the south, was to a great extent free from 
snow, and some parts of it were level and rocky. On that side the 
coast was not ended by an ice-cliff, but by a gently sloping beach about 
1,500 feet long. Along this beach was a belt of ice about thirty feet 
broad, which adhered to the shore and to the bottom ; and in touch 
with it was an ice-field several square miles in extent, which filled the 
bay, rising and falling with the tide, and therefore detached from 
the fixed ice along the shore. 

The shape of the bay was not the best adapted to provide the ship 
with a safe anchorage for the winter, but it was the most northern bay 
of the Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago. As this was of the utmost 
importance for our future expedition on sledges, we were obliged to 
attempt to remain there. Though the bay was not protected by 
its situation, the ice-field might serve to guard the ship from pressure. 
But the ice was mostly from six feet to nine feet thick, and it 
would be difficult for us by means of our saws, which were only 
three feet long, or by blasting and the help of the prow of the 
ship, to prepare a dock sufficiently deep for it to lie in safety. 
Along the ice adhering to the shore, however, the ice-field was 
much broken up, and it appeared easy to cut a canal through that. 
On sounding through the crevasses, we found a sandy bottom at 
twenty-six or thirty feet, which became much deeper farther out. If 
we broke through the ice here, the ship could be moored close to 
the sloping strand, which would render it easy to land the stores, 
and the ice-field would serve as a barrier to keep off the pressure 

Prince Rudolph Island 


from without. The width and thickness of this ice-field, which clung 
to the coast for a distance of several miles, led me then to believe 
that, if later on the ice-pack pressed it against the island, it would 
remain stationary. 

On August loth, by driving our ship many times against the ice, 
we succeeded in opening a channel about 580 feet long and sixty feet 



wide. The ice, which was already crevassed at that place, broke up 
into large pieces under each blow of the prow ; the water from 
the melting snow which was falling down the rocks along the shore 
swept them out to sea, and thus much facilitated the toils of our crew. 
By the evening the channel was completed, and the ship moored in 
the ice of the bay, with its bow towards the west. 

We immediately set to work to prepare our winter's quarters in this 

IO4 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

locality. Though the fact that the season was not too much advanced, 
and that the sea was still open, tempted me to carry out some interest- 
ing explorations with the help of the ship, the ice-pack was always in 
sight, and I thought it more prudent not to leave, as, if I were surprised 


by the ice, I would run the risk of hot being able to return to aur 
anchorage. Since I was in the most northern bay that could be reached, 
it was my duty to avoid everything that could in any way imperil our 
future expedition on sledges, or increase its difficulties. 

During the first week following our arrival the weather con- 
tinued fine, with slight breezes, and the temperature above freezing 
point. The snow melted rapidly, and torrents of water fell from all 
sides into the bay. The water, flowing over the foot-ice along the 
strand, hollowed out a channel, which grew speedily broader. This 
prevented us from landing, and made it difficult to disembark our 
stores on the beach. Pools had formed all over the ice-field wherever 
there was a hollow ; indiarubber boots had to be worn to avoid being 

Prince Rudolph Island 


continually wet, and with so much water all around us it was almost 
possible to forget that we were on a frozen land. 

The fine weather helped us in our work, and allowed us to take 
pleasant walks every evening in the neighbourhood of the ship. Cape 
Germania, Cape Saulen, and Cape Auk, which were free from ice and 
frequented by birds, were the limits of our excursions. The glacier, 
which covered all the island, descended into the sea to the north of 
Cape Germania, and to the south into Teplitz Bay. The part of the 
island free from ice to the north of the bay presented a succession of 
terraces, rising above each other and composed of detritus, with a 
few isolated rocks. Small glaciers had been formed on the slopes 


between one terrace and another, between the terraces and the sea, 
and in the hollows. At the time of our arrival these level places 
were quite free from snow, but their flora was very scanty. In 
this summer, and in the following, a few fungi, among which may 
be noted a new species of ascochyta, some briophytes, lichens, 

106 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and phanerogams, 1 were all the plants which we could collect in 
Teplitz Bay, at Cape Fligely, and at Cape Auk. The rocks, which 
for the most part are formed of basalts, are a proof that the island is 
volcanic, like all the others already known in the Emperor Franz Josef 
Archipelago. A piece of granite found in the neighbourhood of Cape 
Saulen, and some remains of reindeer's horns picked up in the same 
place, have given rise to the opinion that, if not Cape Germania, 
at least Cape Saulen and all the northern part of the island were 
once submerged. Almost all the way from Cape Saulen to Cape 
Auk the coast was formed by an ice-cliff, interrupted only, at that 
spot near which the ship lay, by the short stretch of rocky shore. 
Cape Auk, 580 feet above sea-level, quite free from ice, and with 
precipitous sides, formed the northern extremity of the bay. Karl 
Alexander Island, from its most northerly cape to Cape Brogger, 
could be seen from Cape Saulen, and Cape Clement Markham 
could also be made out in the distance. 

Animal life, as I have stated, was not abundant. The birds most 
frequently seen were : The Fulmar petrel (Fulmarus glacialis. Linn.), 
the ivory gull (Pagophila eburnea, Gm.), the glaucous gull (Lams 
glaucus^ Brilnn.), a guillemot of a species closely allied to the black 
guillemot (Uria mandti y Linn.), and the little auk (Mergulus alle y 
Linn.). In the following year we also saw the kittiwake gull (Rissa 

1 For the zoological, botanical, and mineralogical collections made during the 
expedition by Lieutenant Francesco Querini and Dr. Achille Cavalli Molinelli, 
doctor of the first class, see Part II. of Osservazioni Scientifiche Eseguite 
Durante la Spedizione Polare di S.^A. R. Luigi Amedeo di Savoia, Duca degli 
Abruzzi, 1899-1900 (Milan : Ulrico Hoepli). Thus : Chapter I. Zoology. The 
reports of Professor Camerano, of Dr. Conte Tommaso Salvadori, of Dr. Carlo 
Pollonera, of Dr. Hermann Giglio-Tos, of Dr. Giuseppe Nobili, and of Professor 
Corrado-Parona. Chapter II. Botany. The reports of Professor Oreste Mattirolo 
and of Professor Saverio Belli. Chapter III. Mineralogy. The reports of 
Professor Giorgio Spezia, of Dr. Luigi Colomba, and of Dr. Giuseppe Piolti. 

Prince Rudolph Island 107 

trldactyla^ Linn.), the Arctic skua (Stercorarius crepidatus, Gm.), and 
the snow bunting (Plectophenax nivalis, Linn.). These, and two 
other species of skua (Stercorarius parasiticus^ Linn. ; Stercorarius 
pomatorhinus, Schal.), which we shot in British Channel, were the 
only birds we met with in the archipelago. We never saw Ross's 
gull (Khodostethia rosea, Macgill.), though we sought it carefully. 
Seals were rare, and walruses still more so, but, on the other 
hand, the place seemed to be much frequented by bears. On the 
day of our arrival we killed a she-bear and two cubs. In the 
whole course, of our voyage we killed thirty-seven bears, thirty- 
four in Teplitz Bay alone. Most of these were killed by Lieutenant 
Querini, an ardent sportsman and an excellent shot ; he was always 


ready, both by day and hy night, to face the cold and the wind, it 
he had the chance of hunting one of these animals. 

Bear-hunting is very easy. A bear sees and smells a camp long 
before man is aware of his presence, and hunger generally compels 
him to approach. It is not, therefore, necessary to look for him. 
Our dogs, which were so many, and wandered about treely all day, 

io8 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

pursued every bear they saw. The larger he-bears were able to escape 
if they had only eight or ten dogs at their heels, but if they were 
attacked by a pack of thirty or forty, they were obliged to stop, and 
climb up on a hummock, or to range themselves against a block 
of ice by way of defence. We thus had time to come up and 
shoot them from a distance of a few feet. None could escape us. 
The dogs were sometimes wounded in the hunt, almost always 
by the he-bears, and rarely by the she-bears. They were so nimble 
in avoiding the bears' blows that their wounds were never serious, 
and the doctor's assistance was only required three or four times 
to sew them up, even later on, when they became more daring 
in their attacks. 

We killed many she-bears, often accompanied by two cubs, which 
from their equal growth seemed to be twins. During the summer we 
mostly killed she-bears, and later on, during the winter and the spring, 
only males : some of these were of considerable size, measuring up 
to 9 ft. 5 in. along the back. We had very often bears' flesh to eat ; 
the best parts were the heart, the kidneys, and the tongue ; the rest 
was not equally palatable. 

A bullet from a rifle of -303 calibre aimed at the shoulder, or at 
the forehead, was quite enough to kill a bear ; but if they were 
running away, several shots were required. We never found that the 
bear attacked us ; we always saw them make off in the opposite 
direction to that from which the shot had been fired. During all our 
expedition we used only Dum-Dum cartridges laden with cordite. 

The dogs had been landed as soon as we had arrived. They 

were not only anxious to be at liberty, but this had become a necessity 

OUT Dogs at ^ or them, after having been shut up in their cages on 

board for a month. As a single sailor could not watch 

so many dogs during the night, and as it was impossible to re-embark 

Prince Rudolph Island 109 

them every evening, we were obliged to build new kennels on land to 
keep them separated from each other during the night, and to give 
them shelter in stormy weather. The doors of the kennels had hinges 
at the bottom, so that they could be raised up after the dogs had been 
driven in, and inner partitions separated one dog from another, so 
that they could not bite each other. It was at first a tedious and 


difficult task to shut up the dogs every evening, but it became easier 
later on when they got their suppers in their kennels. We con- 
tinued to give them fish, as on board, but we did not require to 
give them water, as the snow served to quench their thirst. By 
giving them their food in their kennels it was not only more 
easy to shut them in, but it prevented them from quarrelling 

no On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

and stealing each other's food while feeding ; we could also be 
certain that they would all be equally well fed, and that nothing 
would be wasted. 

The ways of these animals were very strange. They had strong 
likes and dislikes ; when one was killed there was a general rejoic- 
ing ; and if one were seen to go away from the others with tail and 
ears down, it was a sign that he had incurred the displeasure of his 
companions. The entire pack pursued him barking, and we had to 
interfere to separate them, and to rescue the unfortunate animal. No 
distinction was made between the strongest and the weakest ; the 
females only were respected. Two or three of our dogs were thus 
torn to pieces by their companions, and we rescued many others from 
the same fate. 

They showed little affection, and still Jess obedience ; they feared 
only the whip and water ; for in the intensely cold regions where they 
live, if they get wet the water freezes immediately on their bodies, and 
forms a cuirass which hinders every movement. The dogs, therefore, 
instinctively avoid running that risk. They barked readily at the 
sight of a bear, or of a bird, and often without motive. Sometimes at 
night one dog would set up a howl for a few minutes, which was then 
echoed by all the other dogs. The uproar lasted for some hours, led 
by the dog which had begun, until it stopped without any reason, as 
it had commenced. These noisy manifestations took place when they 
were left alone, and the presence of a man was enough to put an 
end to them. 

On account of the calms and the changes of the wind, the pack 
had receded from the island, and approached it again without, how- 
First Pressure ever, reaching as far as the coast. After August 2Oth, 

of the Ice in 

TepiitzBay. westerly and south-westerly winds brought it near to 
Teplitz Bay, and on August 2yth it began to make its pressure 

Prince Rudolph Island 1 1 1 

felt against the coast. A sound was heard like that of waves 
breaking on the shore, caused by the ice-floes being piled up one 
over the other. The ice-field driven by the pack turned round at 


the bottom of the bay during the night, thus closing up the channel 
made by the Polar Star, and driving the ship against the ice fixed 
against the coast, where she remained, heeling over about thirteen 
degrees to the right. When the pressure ceased, she remained 
in the same position. The next day the ice-pack again receded from 
the island. 

This movement of the ice-field dispelled the pleasing illusion 
which I had entertained on arriving at Teplitz Bay. I had believed 
that if this ice-field were not immovable, it might, at least, offer some 
resistance ; it had, on the contrary, shifted at the first 'impulse of the 
ice, and when the pack came back, it would move again. The ship 
was not in a secure position, but if we were to bring on board 
again the stores we had landed, and were to toil for several days 
till we were extricated from the ice-field where we lay imprisoned, 

ii2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to sail then to the south, even perhaps as far as Nansen Bay, it 
would not only very much increase the fatigues of our future 
expedition on sledges, but would be a very serious task, and might 
also endanger the ship. I therefore decided not to leave Teplitz 

Towards the end of August the temperature, which by day was 
a few degrees below zero, had begun to fall during the night to 
Excursion to o C. Even on August 2Oth new ice had begun to 

Prince Rudolph 

form alongside the ship and on the fresh-water pools, 
upon which, a few days later, we were all able to skate. Captain 
Cagni, having established on the fixed ice along the beach the hut 
which he had got ready at Christiania for magnetic observations 
and a field-tent for taking pendulum observations, gave himself up 
to these important researches. 

The recent cold weather had hardened the snow, and we were 
thus able to undertake some expeditions with sledges to explore the 
eastern coast of Prince Rudolph Island, and to test the dogs. Until 
now the softness of the snow would have rendered these expeditions 
too fatiguing both for the dogs and for the men. 

When we were at Archangel, Trontheim had harnessed the dogs 
abreast by separate traces attached to the sledge. This system, which 
had been followed by Nansen in his expedition, and is that usually 
employed by the Esquimaux and the Samoyeds, allows the dogs more 
liberty in their movements and utilises all their strength. It has, how- 
ever, this disadvantage that the traces get mixed up, and it requires 
continual and tiresome labour to put them again in order. To avoid 
this inconvenience, I decided when at Christiania to follow the method 
adopted by the Yakuts of the Lower Lena, who make use of a single 
long trace, to each side of which the dogs are harnessed by shorter 
traces, and as the latter are attached by swivels to the central trace, 

Prince Rudolph Island 113 

they cannot become entangled. A bamboo pole was fixed beneath 
the trace to keep the leading dogs from being mixed up with 
those behind. 

On the afternoon of September 2nd, I left the ship, with 
Lieutenant Querini and the guide Savoie, in a sledge drawn bv 
nine dogs. We followed the coast at a distance of a few hundred 
yards, and pitched our tent on the first day near Cape Fligely 


and on the second at Cape Rath. From Cape German i a to Cape 
Rath the coast is formed by a vertical ice-cliff, which is interrupted 
only for some distance at Cape Fligely. This cape is formed by an 
extensive table-land a mile long, free from snow, and resembling 
that near Cape Saulen ; some fossil remains found upon it have 
given rise to the opinion that, like the same table-land, it, too, had 
once been submerged. 

From a height of about 290 feet above the sea, and in very 
clear weather, we observed the horizon attentively ; it was the 
VOL. i. 8 

114 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

same place where Payer had thought he saw Petermann Land and 
King Oscar Land. We could make out nothing to the north or 
to the west, but towards the east we now saw Nansen Islands, which 
we had not been able to see from the ship a few days previously. 
To the north of the group were Eva and Liv Islands in line with 


each other ; to the south was Freeden Island and in the middle 
Adelaide Island. While I am convinced that Payer may have 
been deceived by the fog when he thought he saw Petermann Land 
and King Oscar Land, which do not exist, I believe, on the other 
hand, that he really saw Cape Sherard Osborn, and that this 
cape is nothing else than the northern point of Eva Island. 
The mistake made in marking the position of that cape can be 
explained by a deviation of the compass, in a locality where the 
needle is strongly affected by rocks which are mostly composed of 

iron ore. 

At Cape Habermann the coast rises steeply to about 2,900 feet 
or so above the sea. The light westerly winds which had prevailed 
during the last few days had driven away the pack from Prince 

Prince Rudolph Island 115 

Rudolph Island towards the east, and from Cape Rath to Nansen 
Islands ; towards the south the open sea stretched as far as Arch- 
duke Rainer Island. On our third day out, as we were not able 
to continue our advance along the coast with the sledge, we were 
obliged to ascend the island, and to encamp on the ice at Middendorf, 
on the summit of Cape Habermann. Hohenlohe Island and Archduke 
Rainer Island were seen in the distance. On the fourth day, we 
encamped during a thick fog at Cape Brorok, while still remaining 
on the summit of the island. The part which is comprised between 
Cape Habermann and Cape Brorok, as well as the other islands 
situated more to the south of Northbrook, Bell, and Mabel Islands, 



is high and precipitous, and free from ice. The fog was still very 
thick when we encamped on the fifth day in Teplitz Bay. We 
returned to the ship on September 6th, after a journey of about 
seventy miles. 

The bamboo pole fixed under the trace was found to be 

1 1 6 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

inconvenient, as it was too unyielding. It also required that some 
one should walk ahead of the dogs, which naturally diminished the 
speed of our advance, and left the sledges without any attendant. 
The swivels were of no use ; they only increased the weight of the 
harness and rendered it more liable to break. The dogs showed 
strength and endurance, and I felt more confidence in them after this 
trip than I had felt at Archangel, when I saw them in such a state of 

Like the interior of Greenland, Prince Rudolph Island lies 
completely buried under one immense glacier, which descends to the 
sea in every direction except at a few points, such as Cape Germania, 
Cape Saulen, Cape Fligely, Cape Brorok, Cape Habermann, and Cape 
Auk. At some of these points, such as Cape Auk, Cape Brorok, and 
Cape Habermann, the coast is almost perpendicular, which prevents 
the ice from descending to the sea. At others, like Cape Fligely, 
Cape Germania, and Cape Saulen, the ice, stopped by a hollow, 
falls into the sea on each side of the headland, which thus remains 
uncovered. Moreover, wherever the snow can rest, there are glaciers 
which end at the sea in an ice-cliff, like that formed by the main 
glacier, so that it can be said that the entire coast, with the 
exception of a short extent of strand near Teplitz Bay, is formed 
by a vertical ice-cliff. 

As Prince Rudolph Island is not very high, the movement of 
the ice is slow ; in fact, we detected very few crevasses, never 
witnessed the formation of an iceberg, and when, in the months of 
March, April, May, and June, we set up a line of posts on the 
glacier, we could perceive no movement. Near the coast, and where 
the declivity is steep, there are crevasses which, unlike those of the 
Alps, are almost invisible ; hence great care is required to avoid 
mishaps, which the most experienced guide cannot foresee or prevent. 

Prince Rudolph Island 117 

During the summer, on those days when the temperature remains 
above zero, the snow thaws rapidly, and torrents of water flow from 
the glacier to the sea, hollowing out channels many feet wide. 
As the table-lands at Cape Fligely and Cape Germania, situated from 
162 to 260 feet above the sea-level, are free from snow, we might 
believe that that is the limit of perpetual snow in this locality ; 
but as at the same height the glacier is never to be seen without 


a covering of snow, we might also come to a perfectly different 

The lines of stratification, which were observed at many points 
of the sea-front of the ice-cliff formed by the glacier near Cape Saiilen 
and Cape Fligely, would seem to indicate that precipitation is greater 
here than thaw or evaporation, and on seeing the photographs of 
Teplitz Bay, Captain Payer was inclined to believe that the glaciation 
of the island had increased since 1874. He has often told me that in 
the district between Cape Germania and Cape Fligely he has walked 
over level tracts, free from snow, which are no longer to be found 

1 1 8 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

there, and there is now only one uncovered space, 3,000 feet in length, 
near Cape Fligely. None the less, even if, during the lapse of time 
between 1874 until now, the ice has increased on Prince Rudolph 
Island, there could be no doubt that, during our stay in the bay, 
the thaw and the evaporation had been greater than the precipitation. 
Also, a period of retrogression was perhaps then setting in, in its 
glacial state, which would tend to bring the island back to the 
same condition it was in when discovered by the Austro-Hungarian 

We abandon the Ship 



DURING my absence the ship had been righted, by means of 
some guncotton mines which had been sprung on the left 
side. The pack had again come up against the bay, and as the early 
frosts were beginning to bind the ice-fields together, we we prepare our 

r . . Winter Quarters. 

had greater hopes or passing a quiet winter. 

The aeronautic apparatus had been landed and put in order on 
the shore, so as to be ready for the coming spring. The deck had 
been covered with an awning from the main-mast up to the fore- 
mast, and on the side next to the bow. This was to be closed 
by a wooden partition crossing the ship from one side to the other. 
The dogs' provisions had been landed, and the lower deck had 
been partly cleared, that we might more easily get at the stores 
we wanted. 

We had never made so many plans with regard to the work to 
be done in the autumn, to the expedition towards the north, and 
to our return home, as on the evening of September yth. A few 
hours later all these day-dreams had vanished. 

During the last few days light westerly winds had driven the 
Polar ice against the coast, and had kept it there, without, however, 

making its pressure felt. During the night of Septem- The ship is beset 

by the Ice on 
ber yth a light breeze set in from the south, and later September stn. 

on it blew more violently from the south-west. The ice-pack was 

122 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

gradually driven against the ice-field in the bay, which in its turn was 
pressed up against the fixed ice along the coast. 

I was disturbed two or three times during the night by slight 
creaking noises, but towards half-past six loud reports coming from all 
sides, and sudden movements of the ship, which first heeled over to 
the left and then twenty degrees to the right, roused me completely. 
Before they ceased I rushed out on deck, half-dressed, to see what 
was happening. 

The ice-field in the bay, driven by the ice-pack, had risen all 
around over that which lay along the coast, and had reached up to the 
kennels, against the doors of which some large floes had been piled up, 
thus preventing egress. When the dogs gave the alarm, the crew ran 
to extricate them by breaking the inner partitions and letting them out 
on the side of the land. A pressure-ridge had been formed along the 
coast with hummocks about fifteen or eighteen feet high. Under 
the strong pressure of the ice against the bow the ship had backed 
about ninety feet, and had risen at the same time on the ice where she 
remained, with her bow out of water, heeling over about twenty 
degrees to the left. Great slabs of ice had been raised against her 
side and stern while she was making her way through them. At the 
bow, all the rigging of the fore-mast had broken loose, and on the 
right side of the ship, which was exposed from the middle to the bow, 
when she heeled over, the outer planks of green-heart were seen to 
have been driven in to a depth of two and a half or three and a 
quarter inches for a length of eighteen or twenty feet, so much so 
that a hand could be passed between them. The ice had this time 
shown itself stronger than the ribs of the Polar Star, and as some 
damage like that visible on the right side might also exist on the left 
side, then under water, I gave orders to light the fires. 

Whilst I was dressing, the engineer informed me that the ship had 

We abandon the Ship 123 

sprung a leak, and that the water had risen to the floor of the engine- 
room. As it was pouring in fast, the pumps were immediately set 
going, to prevent it from rising, and to give time for steam to be 
raised to work the donkey-engine. The wind had gone down, and the 
windmill-pump acted only intermittently ; the level of the water had 


therefore to be kept down for about two hours with only the hand- 
pump. As it was not certain that the leak could be kept down 
by a single pump, and as any additional pressure of the ice might 
throw the ship on her beam ends, when, if the ice gave way, she 
would sink, we were obliged to land, with the utmost haste, the 

124 On tne Pt ar Star in the Arctic Sea 

stores for winter, and to secure the necessary materials for building 
a dwelling-house. 

The rose-coloured illusions of the preceding evening had 
vanished, and the^e remained before me the gloomy outlook of a 
winter passed in this bay with but scanty resources, and of a retreat 
to be carried out with still more scanty resources in the following 
spring. There arose in my mind involuntary recollections of the 
unfortunate expeditions of De Long, Greely, and Franklin, which 
increased my present anxiety by the thought of the heavy responsi- 
bility the unknown future would bring. 

When ordered to disembark the provisions, the crew, well aware 
of the gravity of the situation, set to work eagerly and without the 
slightest confusion. It was seven o'clock when we began to draw, 
partly from the fore-hold and partly from the middle-hold, and to 
throw on the ice to our left the tinned provisions, the clothing, and 
the field-tents; the petroleum was poured out provisionally into every 
available vessel into washing tubs, buckets, and barrels. It was hard 
to work on board, as the ship heeled over so much, and the deck 
was covered with ice. Under these circumstances the advantage of 
having light packages was soon perceived, for the crew could hand 
them along from one to the other. The heavier cases had to be 
raised by pulleys, and once on the deck, it was difficult to bring them 
farther. With the exception of the two engineers, who were busied 
with the engines, and the four men who were working the pumps, 
all the others were employed in landing the stores. 

At eight o'clock we sat down to table, dirty and excited ; we 
took our breakfast almost without speaking to each other, and went 
back to work immediately. 

The wind had quite fallen, and our single hand-pump did not 
suffice to keep down the water, which in the left stoke-hole had 


We abandon the Ship 


already risen to the bars of the furnaces. The two engineers were 
working up to their ankles in water, and we were continually sending 
to know what the pressure of the steam was. When at last, about 
half-past eight, we heard the sound of the donkey-engine working, it 
seemed to us that our anxiety was about to enjoy a momentary relief. 
The donkey-engine and hand-pump kept down the water, but, 


considering how we were situated, we could not hope to make it 
remain at the same level. Our crew could not work the hand- 
pump much longer ; the donkey-engine alone was not enough ; the 
windmill-pump could not be reckoned on ; and the exhaust-pipe ot 
the condenser could not act because the shaft of the propeller required 
to be first put out of gear, which could not be done, as it was already 
under water. We were, therefore, obliged to give up the idea of 

128 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

keeping the water below the fires, and we could only continue to use 
the hand-pump for a few hours while we landed the most necessary 
stores, after which we should abandon the ship. 

The disembarkation continued all that day, with the exception 
of intervals for meals. At midnight we took a light supper, no 
longer in our saloon, but near the bow of the ship ; our food had 
been prepared on the ship's forge, as the cook's galley had been 
taken to pieces and sent on shore. 

As the ship still remained in the same situation, which had not 
become more dangerous, and as we had rescued all that was required 
to pass the winter, we began to disembark what would be wanted 
for the sledge expedition, so that if the vessel were lost we 
should still have the means of accomplishing the undertaking for 
which we had set out. The suction-pipe of the hand-pump then 
became partly obstructed, and, moreover, as it was very fatiguing 
work, it was set aside, and a smaller pump used which could be 
.worked by two men ; but this pump and the donkey-engine, which 
was still working, could not prevent the water from rising. 

Daylight still lasted during twenty-four hours. A calm had 
succeeded the wind, and everything predicted a fine day. The ice 
had not stirred. The holds were open, the cases had been flung here 
and there, the lamps had been taken away from their places, the cabins 
were in confusion, and everything bore traces of the hasty work of 
the last few hours. It was sad to see by that bright daylight the 
state of our ship, which had hitherto been always kept in such good 
order. By six o'clock in the morning we had safely landed provisions 
for more than a year clothing, tents, all that we wanted for lighting 
purposes, and all that was requisite for the sledge expedition. We 
then ceased to work the hand-pump, the water was allowed to rise 
and put out the fires, and after twenty-four hours of uninterrupted 

We abandon the Ship 


labour, except during the short intervals for meals, the last case was 
landed. The Italian flag and my own flag were then hoisted at the 
stern and the main-mast, so that if the vessel sank they might be 
the last objects to be seen, and if she did not stir from the place 
where the pressure of the ice had driven her, their sight would 
sustain our hopes of raising her. The crew, which was worn out, 
then went below to take a well-deserved rest. 


When I got up at nine o'clock, Captain Cagni told me that there 
had been no change in the position of the ship, and that the water 
continued to rise. The ship, however, did not stir, either because 
she was resting on the ground or was merely fixed in the ice. 

The day was bright and calm, without a cloud, but the sight 
round the ship was dreary. 

What a change had taken place in less than twenty-four hours ! 
I was still bewildered by the feverish toil of the preceding day, and 
could not be persuaded to believe that I should have to abandon the 
VOL. i. 9 

130 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Polar Star, on the outfit of which so much care had been lavished. 
I walked several times round it, followed by the dogs ; they had 
fasted for twenty-four hours, and were begging for food. I then 
went on board, and down into the engine-room. The water was 
rising slowly. The left furnace was already extinguished, as it was 
under water, and that on the right would soon be in the same state. 

I was convinced that the ship must have been damaged on the 
left side as well as on the right. As the fires could not be lighted, 
it was hard to free the ship from water by any means whatever. It 
seemed probable that we could never make use of it again, and that 
to make our way home we would be obliged to retreat to Cape Flora 
on our sledges in the coming spring, or in our boats in the summer. 
This would be a very different matter from reaching the Pole, for 
we should arrive in Norway as shipwrecked sailors. 

About ten o'clock the water, which had risen a few inches 
more, stopped at last. 

The heeling over of our vessel had rendered lite on board 
uncomfortable ; it would be difficult just then to raise her by 
blasting, which might also make her run the risk of 

We build a Hut. 

sinking still more, whilst any further pressure of the ice 
might cast her on her beam ends, and oblige the expedition to 
abandon her completely. It would therefore, no doubt, be better 
to leave her and to take up our quarters on land, where we should 
be safe from any sudden danger, and we did not lack materials to 
build a house. 

The expedition had been provided with two field-tents which 
would lodge the whole crew, though they alone would not suffice to 
protect us during the winter or to resist the violence of the wind, 
but by strengthening them with additional covers, also of canvas, so 
as to form air-spaces between them, a sufficiently high temperature 


We abandon the Ship 133 

could be kept up inside, and if the outer covering were made of 
stronger sailcloth it would be able to resist the wind. The canvas 
awning which had stood on the deck, with the poles and cross- 
bars which formed its framework, was well suited to stand over the 




field-tents, and with the spars and the sails of the ship, a third tent 
could be constructed which would cover the others. 

We set to work at once ; Captain Cagni was the architect of our 
new home, and that night we slept under our tents. 


Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

A week of uninterrupted work followed, in which we were much 
assisted by the continuation of fine weather. I relate it here as I then 
put it down in my diary : 

September ioM. We begin by taking down the awning which 
had been put up over the deck ; the sails are then unbent, the spars 
are lowered, and we carry everything we require from the ship to the 
tents, which are about 450 feet away. The ship has not stirred 


since, but at the highest tide the water rises to the sailors' quarters 
on the left side. 

September nth. With the spars belonging to the boats, we get 
ready three sheers for the boom to rest on ; the sails are stretched 
over it, and thus form the outer tent. The sails are fastened to the 
top-mast spars, which have been placed at the sides of the field-tents. 
By evening they are already in their proper places, but not yet sewn 
together. In the meantime we continue to disembark all that can 

We abandon the Ship 135 

be of use to the sledging expedition, and begin to set in order the 
piles of stores which had been put on shore on the day when we were 
first crushed by the ice. We already begin to feel the discomfort of 
our new dwelling. As it is now covered in, the interior is darkened, 
and we are obliged to keep the lamps lighted. 

The first day we had to use the forge for cooking, but now the 
kitchen is set up again, and it stands between the two field-tents. 
The only one who profits by our change of dwelling is the cook, who 
had previously to perform his duties in a small room, badly aired, and 
therefore always full of smoke. 1 It is not very pleasant, however, to 
have to cook in a temperature of seven degrees below zero, nor is it 
pleasant to dine in a tent with such a temperature. We have to 
stamp our feet continually on the frozen ground, and rub our hands, 
while hurrying over our meals that we may warm ourselves again 
by walking about. 

September \ith. The sails are now being sewn together, and it 
is trying work, although the weather is fine, for the men are obliged 
to come down frequently from the sheers and run about to warm 
themselves. Towards evening the work is ended. While the boat- 
swain sews the sails together, the sailors and carpenters are making 
the two ends of the tent ; these are formed of battens placed in a 
semi-circle on the ground, with their upper ends lashed to the 

1 Both petroleum and coal could be used in our kitchen Not more than five 
pints of petroleum were required to give us thirty-four gallons of boiling water every 
day. Besides the great saving in fuel, the use of petroleum would have allowed of 
quicker cooking, and rid us of the discomfort of smoke. But a few days after 
leaving Christiania, we had to cease using petroleum and employ coal. The real 
consumption had proved to be more than ten pints a day, and there had been 
much loss by leakage. When coal was used, owing to the smallness of the room 
and the bad ventilation, not only the kitchen, but even our cabins, were filled with 
smoke every morning, and even up to the day on which the pressure of the ice 
occurred, this discomfort had not ceased. 

136 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

tops of the sheers. They resemble in shape the buttresses of the 
piers of a bridge. To strengthen the sheers at both ends, three of 
the six sets of tackle belonging to the boats are made fast to each, so 


that two are stretched in the direction of the length of the tent and 
four transversely. Our dogs have to be kept tied up all day, 
otherwise they would drive the cook to despair by gnawing at the 
cases of provisions ranged upon the snow. 

September \^th. One of the tanks, containing 187 gallons of 
petroleum, is landed, and carried up to the hut. 1 While the inner 
tent, which is to cover the two field-tents, is being set up, the canvas, 
which is to form the ends of the third and outermost tent, is put into 
its place. The inner tent is supported by the same framework as on 
1 Another tank was landed later on. 

We abandon the Ship 

board. The ground has to be levelled before the inner tents are 
completely put up ; it requires a good deal of labour and time to get 
rid of the large stones frozen into the ground ; they require to be 


hammered away, and the soil all round loosened with pick-axes. By 
evening the floor of our dwelling is levelled, and we can settle down 

138 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

September I4//;, i 5///, i6th. Although during the night the 
temperature in the tent was 16 C., we all slept well. The fine 
weather, which facilitates our work, continues ; the second tent is 
put up. When it served as an awning on deck, its sides were 
formed by the bulwarks of the ship ; they are now formed of 
boards, for which we make use of those which had closed it at 
the end next the bow. As we have not wood enough to close 
both ends, we employ canvas for that purpose, and leave only a 
single communication with the exterior. The sails which form 
the outermost tent are now stretched over the top-mast spars, and 
the stones are cleared away from the sailors' field-tent as they were 
from ours, so that their beds can be put in their places. 

September 17 'th. After seven days' labour we take a rest to-day, 
and resume the life that we led on board. The principal part of 
the hut is already finished ; some less important work has still to be 
done, but this can be performed more conveniently later on. In seven 
days twenty persons have been transferred from ship-board to land, and 
settled there in a dwelling made by the tents, the sails, and the spars, 
without causing any serious damage to the rigging of the ship. 

Our work during the following days consisted specially in carry- 
ing provisions, coal, and clothing into the tent and its immediate 
neighbourhood, taking away everything that had been laid on the ice, 
and putting it in a safe place on the beach. The clothing was put into 
the empty space between the two inner field-tents on a shelf hung from 
the top. In the interval or passage between the inner tents where we 
slept and the first tent, were the tins of unsweetened milk and the 
wine which, being more liable to be spoiled by the cold, required to be 
kept in a comparatively warm place. As these tins were heaped up one 
against! the other, they almost formed a wall, which helped still more to 
keep out the cold. As a further protection to prevent the cold air from 

We abandon the Ship 139 

penetrating into the field-tents, bands of canvas were sewn to the sides 
of the field-tents, and bags of coal were laid on the part of these 
bands which trailed on the ground. The open space between the 
two field-tents was occupied on one side by the kitchen, and on 
the other by the bags and cases containing the clothing. We had 
taken down the partitions which had enclosed the sailors' quarters 
on board, and used them as flooring for the tents. The tents were 
warmed by two stoves, the chimneys of which passed through the 
three coverings until they rose above the boom, so that from what- 
ever point the wind might blow they were sure to draw well. The 
canvas was protected against fire by plates of asbestos. The cases which 
held the provisions most likely to be consumed during the winter were 
placed between the second and third tents, thus furnishing additional 
shelter, and coal bags were laid down round the first tent. To guard 
still more against the cold, a vestibule was added to the outer tent,, 
and thus made a third entrance to our dwelling, while other cases of 
biscuits and provisions were laid outside the tent, where they formed 
an enclosure in which were placed about thirty tons of coal. A hut 
for the smithy was built alongside this depot by means of sails and 
cases. Lastly, the kennels, which had remained on the ice along the 
beach, were transferred to a short distance from our dwelling. These 
occupations took up our time until the end of September. 

During the second half of this month the weather was mostly calm 
and fine, with some winds of short duration from the east. After the 
pressure of September the ice-fields between Cape Saulen The Birds leave 

Teplitz Bay. 

and Cape Clement Markham to the south, and Karl 
Alexander and Prince Rudolph Islands to the east, had not stirred again, 
but beyond the bay, when the east winds blew, the pack was easily 
driven back, leaving a broad channel between the ice fixed to the 
islands just mentioned and the movable part of the ice-pack. The 

140 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

temperature fell sometimes to 19 C., but the mean temperature was 
between 5 C. and 6 C., and therefore did not force us to make 
any change in our clothing. It rained on September 2ist and 22nd, 
and the temperature rose again up to 3 C., which made the snow thaw. 
Some of the birds had already begun their migration to the south. 
The first to leave Cape Saulen in the early days of September had been 
the guillemots and the little auks ; there remained only the petrels, the 
glaucous and the ivory gulls, and they also left towards the end of the 
same month. 

The Last Days of Light 



AS our ship, which we had abandoned after it had been seized 
by the ice, was the only means of our returning home in the 
following year, we had to consider how to save her. Part of the 
engines, the condenser, and the furnaces were under water, First Attempts 

to extricate the 

which had frozen to a thickness or about nineteen inches, 

The ship had not changed her position, but had heeled over still 
more as the ice which had supported her had given way. 

The water had first to be pumped out of the ship to enable 
us to find the leak on the left side, and this had to be mended as 
well as that which was visible on the right side ; we had then to 
see if it would be possible to keep the ship dry, and if not, to 
protect the engines so that they might remain under water during 
winter without being injured. Such was the work before us. At 
that time I did not believe it possible, but Captain Cagni never 
despaired for a moment of being able to carry it out, and if it was 
accomplished, it was owing to his strong will and to his perse- 
verance, which was never discouraged by any difficulty. 

It has been seen that, on a breezy day, the pump worked by 
the windmill was able to lower the level of the water in the hold, 
but it acted so intermittently that it could not be reckoned on, 
and the hand-pumps alone were not enough. The water had been 
let out of the boilers on September 26th, lest it should damage the 


the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

tubes when it froze, and it was therefore necessary to find some 
other efficacious means which could be employed for some days. 

We then thought of a pump which we had brought to serve in 
the production of the hydrogen for inflating the balloons. It was a 


double-action pump with two large discharge pipes, and calculated 
to produce a powerful effect. As it was worked by means of a small 
Field boiler connected with the generator, it was easy to make use of. 
The boiler and the pump were at first set up and made to work on 
deck in the open air, but the water quickly froze in the hose-pipes 
exposed on deck, and the boiler ceased to act. It was then taken down 
and placed under cover in what had been the cook's galley, where it 
was easy to maintain a high temperature by closing the doors and 
lighting the stoves. 

As soon as we could reckon on the steady working of the boiler 
and the pump, we began to clear away the upper part of the ice in the 
engine-room. One day when there was a strong breeze the windmill- 

The Last Days of Light 

pump was made to act ; it emptied out most of the water in the hold, 
and, with the help of the small boiler, the ship was completely freed. 
The engine-room was speedily disengaged from the layer of ice which 
had been formed there, by working at it from above and from below ; 
a great part of the ice which still adhered to the engines was thawed by 
means of burning balls of tow steeped in petroleum, and what remained 
melted away when the fires were lit. 


While the engines were being put in order, the coal was removed 
from the left side, so as to allow the state of that side of the ship to be 
examined from the interior, and at the same time to lighten her. The 
provisions which still remained on the lower deck were landed along 
with the coal ; they were laid on the beach, and the coal on the 
VOL. i. 10 

146 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

ice which adhered to the shore alongside the ship. When the 
left side was uncovered, it was found to be but little damaged, 
and that only a few angle-irons had been slightly bent. The 
right side, on the contrary, showed for a length of thirty feet, about 
nineteen and a half inches below the beams supporting the lower 
deck, traces of the violent pressure which it had undergone. The 
inner planking had been driven in, and the angle-irons between 
the deck-beams and the frame timbers twisted by about four 

L X* - .- 


inches from their original shape. The pressure of the ice had not 
only damaged the spot immediately subjected to it, but it had dis- 
located every part of the vessel. The stanchions in the middle of 
the vessel had been separated from the deck-beams and the keelson 
by about four inches, and the upper and lower ends of the lateral 

The Last Days of Light 

J 47 

diagonals placed between the deck-beams and the frame timbers had 
also been detached. 1 

As there were no signs of a leak to be seen on the left side, nor 
on the water-line, it was feared that the principal damage might have 


been caused at the bow. There was also some uneasiness about the 
propeller, but on cutting away the ice down to the level of the sea, 
the end of a blade could be seen, and with even that much it might be 

7 o 

possible to return to Europe. 

1 When the ship was again floated, she never regained her original shape. On 
being docked on her return, it was found that the shaft of the propeller had been 
bent by one inch. The screw-post had also been moved from its position, in 
spite of the strong timbers between the keel and the hull, and had caused 
considerable leakage. 

148 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

As we could not find the leak, it was necessary to decide whether 
the hold should be still kept dry by means of the pumps, or whether 
the water should be allowed to fill it again. The hold could only be 
kept dry by wearing out the small boiler and the pump, which it 
would be more advisable to keep in order till wanted in the summer, 
and the hose could not have been used without subjecting the crew to 
very severe toil during winter. If, on the other hand, the water were 
allowed to rise again, only the boiler and the condenser could be 
in any way injured by the length of their icy bath. But it was almost 
certain that these important parts could be kept in good condition by 
closing up all their tubes with wooden plugs, and it was therefore 
better to leave the ship and allow the water to rise in the hold and in 
the engine-room. 

The carpenter, meanwhile, with Petigax, the guide, had been 
employed in mending the outside of the leak on the right. He 
had cut into the outer planking of green-heart to a depth of 
about two inches at the place where it had been damaged. This 
was covered with tarpaulin, over which boards taken from the 
lower deck were fixed with long bolts. Although, when the work 
was finished, the outline of the ship's side was changed, since the 
pressure of the ice had distorted the shape of the frame timbers, 
the leak at that spot was stanched. For fear, however, the 
ship might heel over on her beam-ends, two strong steel cables 
were finally stretched from the tops of the main-mast and of the 
fore-mast to the shore. 

The work which had begun on October Trd lasted till November 

O >J 

1 5th; it preserved the condenser and the boiler, and proved to us 
that the ship could still be of use if we could succeed in extricating 
her from the situation into which by the pressure of the ice she had 
been driven ; it gave the crew some occupation for more than a month, 

The Last Days of Light 



and again raised our spirits, which had been somewhat cast down by 
the events of September 8th. 

In the meantime our hut had been made as comfortable as 
possible by bringing up to it from the ship whatever was most 

In our tent we four had taken our places on the same side 
Captain Cagni and the doctor at the ends, Lieutenant Querini and I 
in the middle. The Norwegian officers were on the urLifem 

... . . . -Jill tne Tent. 

opposite side, the two engineers in the middle, the captain 
and the mate at the ends. The table of our saloon was placed 
between the two engineers, and by day it served for our meals and 
our work. 

While under canvas we followed the same order of the day as 

150 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

on board. We were called at seven, and as we lived in a common 
room, we were all obliged to rise at nearly the same time. The first 
breakfast was at eight ; work began after nine, lasted till mid-day, and 
was taken up again after dinner till five. Supper was at half-past six, 
and few of us sat up after ten. 

Our mode of life was thus as monotonous as that of a school, 
where all are obliged to act in the same way at the same time. Our 
different occupations helped us to pass the day quickly enough, but we 
found the evening tedious. After some months, subjects of conver- 
sation had become rare, and in order not to repeat the same things, 
we spoke little. 

The health of all the members of the expedition was excellent. 
We always lived in the open air, we slept in a dry and well-aired 
tent, we wore warm clothing, our food was wholesome, and we had 
fresh bear's flesh served out to us once or twice a week ; such were 
the causes of this satisfactory condition. We owed our good health 


The Last Days of Light 151 

not only to the excellent quality of the preserved food, but also to our 
cook, and to his wholesome and varied cookery. His place was no 
sinecure. As he had to prepare two meals a day for twenty persons, 
as well as to make bread, he was kept busy from morning till night. 


During a whole year, the days passed over without change or rest for 
him, and he had even more work to do on feast-days. 

On November 4th the weather became bad, and a very strong 
wind set in from the east. The snow, which was whirled A violent 


up and driven by the wind, made breathing difficult 

and rendered objects invisible at the distance of a few yards. 

This was the most severe storm which we experienced during 
our stay in Teplitz Bay, and also the longest. It raged without 
ceasing for eight days. Our hut was not as yet covered with snow, 
and so had to stand the full force of the wind, which penetrated into 
the space between the first and second huts through the holes made 
at the seams in the canvas, and shook the entire framework, making a 
noise like that made by the sails of a frigate of former days. We 
could hardly hear each other speak, and considering that this enter- 
tainment lasted without interruption for eight days, it is easy to 

152 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

imagine how we rejoiced when we saw by the rising of the barometer 
that the end of the tempest was approaching. 

Our dogs were exposed to very great danger in this storm ; when 
it began they had already been shut up in their kennels, as -was usual 
every evening, but when, next day, we tried to bring them their food, 
we found that the wind had driven such a mass of snow round the 
kennels that they were nearly buried, and that we could not open 


the doors. That day we all had to work to extricate the dogs, and 
we passed a most unpleasant time in the dark, while the snow whirled 
round us and the wind continually extinguished our lanterns. A few 
minutes after the kennels were opened, they were completely filled with 
snow, so that the dogs remained without any shelter. Two or three 
of them were forgotten, and three days after one was discovered 
walled up in the snow, which had become as hard as ice, and would 
have been its tomb if we had not rescued it in time. After the storm 

The Last Days of Light 153 

our hut remained half-buried in snow, the weight of which tightened 
the sails ; it also reduced the extent of surface exposed to the wind, 
and rendered our abode very safe ever after. 

The tempest of November 4th drove the ice-pack out to sea 
again, and left a vast stretch of open water between Cape Saulen and 
Cape Clement Markham, which, even at such a late period of the 
season, would have allowed us to sail up to Teplitz Bay. Later on, 
the dark tint of the sky towards the west showed us that this extent 
of water remained free from ice for a considerable time, as the wind 


blew without ceasing, with greater or less strength from the east 
or north-east, and thus prevented the ice-pack from again approaching 
the shore. 

November was a windy month, and easterly and north-easterly 
winds predominated ; on some days the temperature rose to i C., 

and we might have thought that we were in Europe The Tempera- 
ture. The Drift 

instead of the Polar regions. 

The snow never fell in large flakes, as we see at home, but was 
granulated, and hardened by the wind as soon as it fell, so that walk- 
ing over it left no trace. It was carried by the wind like the desert 

154 O n the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

sand ; under a light breeze it ran along the ground, but when the 
wind freshened, the level of the driven snow rose to the height of 
several feet, and if there was a violent storm, it was impossible to 
know if the snow which enveloped us fell from the sky or was 
carried by the fury of the tempest. 1 The snow did not lie evenly 
on the ground, but was piled up against every obstacle ; it filled 
the hollow places and did not stay on flat surfaces, which made it 
impossible to calculate how much had fallen. Whatever wind blew 
with the greatest force, made furrows in the snow answering to the 
point from which it came, and these furrows rendered the surface of 
the ice uneven. 2 

We continued to wear the same clothes as when on board, but 
instead of leather, we wore wooden shoes, or boots made of felt for 
everyday use, and komager and fnsko for walking. Wooden shoes 
lined with sealskin and felt boots were warm foot-gear, and wore 
well, but they were not adapted for walking. On stormy days we 
put on over our usual clothes what are called wind-repellers, of 
stout duck, without any opening, and tied at the wrists and 
ankles to keep out the snow. For head-dress we all wore the 
caps used by whalers, which are provided with flaps to protect 
the ears. 

We soon began to find it difficult to make our registering 
instruments work. The cage which had been furnished by our 
wefinditdiffi- Meteorological Office was very good for summer, but of 

cult to continue J 

tionf4i?J S t e h7 a " little use in winter. The drift was heaped up on it 

Registering In- c . T 

struments. and cut off the instruments from the outer air. It 
was thought that this drawback could be remedied by surround- 
ing the cage with several rows of Venetian blinds, which should 

1 The snow carried along by a high wind is called " drift." 
The Esquimaux call these undulations Sastrug. 

The Last Days of Light 155 

stop the snow and let the air circulate freely in the interior. They 
were, however, useless. The cage was then wrapped up in canvas, in 
which holes had been pierced with large needles, and finally placed 
in a hut made of the same sort of canvas. All these coverings, 

to ' 

put one over the other, made the state of the instruments worse, 
instead of better. The snow got between them, and was piled 
up everywhere ; it penetrated into the openings of the registering 
instruments, and stopped the clockwork. It soon rose gradually until 
it reached the same height as the outer hut, thus placing the instru- 


ments as though at the bottom of a well. It was hoped at first that 
this would not often occur, but there were gales laden with flying drift 
so frequently, that we were obliged to seek various devices in order 
to be able to continue taking observations. When the weather was 
fine, we began to observe the stars, but later on our work was rendered 
very trying by the low temperature. It was impossible to handle the 
screws of the instruments while keeping our gloves on, and if we took 
them ofFour fingers were frozen. It was difficult to read the scales on 
the instruments, as our breath, in condensing, hid the divisions. The 
chronometers which had been placed in our tents showed remarkable 

156 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

variations in their daily movements. We were obliged to give 
up taking pendulum observations on account of the changes in the 
temperature of the tents, and as it was difficult to take magnetic 
observations with Schneider's magnetometer in the hut built for that 
purpose, since the temperature which prevailed there was low, that, 
too, had to be given up. It may, perhaps, be useful to remark 
here that instruments intended for the Arctic regions should be easy 
to manage, because many delicate operations which, in our part of 
the world, can be performed with the greatest ease, there become 
very difficult or even impossible. 1 

The sun on October I5th had already set, but during the second 
half of October, and nearly the whole of November, there were still 
Daylight several hours of twilight every day. Stars of the first 

magnitude were visible at noon on November 3rd, and 
the others came out little by little. Then the Aurora borealis began 
to appear, and with more or less brilliancy lit up the sky thenceforth, 
during all the winter. As the tints on the horizon became gradually 
Jess intense, the time drew near when there would no longer be any 
difference between day and night. I find an entry in my diary on 
November 2Oth to the effect that, though at mid-day there is still 
a pale light on the horizon, there is not enough to cause any perceptible 
difference in the appearance of the surrounding objects. The Polar 
night had begun, 

1 For the scientific observations, see the various reports in the volume entitled 
Scientific Observations viz., Chapter II., " Astronomical Observations," Lieutenant 
Alberto Alessio ; Chapter VII.," Pendul u m Observations," Professor Cesare Aimonetti ; 
Chapter VIII., " Observations of Terrestrial Magnetism," Professor Luigi Palazzo. 


The Polar Night and the Feasts of Christmas 
and the New Year 




WHEN the Polar night set in, it was lit up by the moon, and 
thenceforward our satellite gave us light enough, for a 
fortnight every month, to work and to walk about in. When 

there was no moon, we were in utter darkness. The , 

The Polar 

feeble twilight, which was visible every day at noon, lg ' 
became paler every day until in the first week of December it 
disappeared completely. 

My companions and I were not struck by the transparency of 
the sky. As there was always snow suspended in the air like dust, 
the stars did not shine in calm weather, as I had often seen them 
shine in tropical regions, and even in our own country. The sur- 
rounding landscape, indeed, was very distinct, but that could be 
accounted for by the strong reflection from the ice. 

The darkness was to last for about two months. There was 
plenty of work to be done both inside and outside the tents, and 
since it was impossible to make excursions in the neighbourhood, 
and we had no other exercise, we had to be content with walking 
to and fro between signal posts, over well-known ground, as had been 
the practice of those who had preceded us in the Arctic regions. 

On calm and fine days, by the pale light of the moon these 
hours of exercise were almost pleasant ; but when there was utter 

160 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

darkness, drift, and wind, with a temperature of - 20 C., it 
required a strong effort of the will not to go back to the hut, but 
to bear with the discomfort of remaining outside for over an hour, 
unable to see more than a few yards, and with one's face stung by 
the driven snow. 

We had been busied until now with the ship and the tent ; 
but henceforth, while the crew was getting ready the outfit for the 
expedition in spring, we had to note down the observations already 
taken, to work out the calculations, and with the help of the 
observations of other explorers which we collected from the books 
we had brought with us to draw up the plan of the expedition 
towards the Pole. 

.The time passed over quickly. As for me, I had set out with 
a well-stocked library, thinking that I should have much leisure for 
reading, as there would be no other occupation, but I ended by 
reading very little. 

After the storm in the first days of November our dogs had no 
longer any. shelter in bad weather, so they took refuge partly in 
our porch and partly in the instrument hut. Some remained in the 
open air, and though the dogs that were stronger could stand the 
exposure, the weaker would have soon broken down. It frequently 
happened when dogs had lain curled up for some time, and the heat 
of their bodies had melted the snow beneath them, that the water 
froze again, when their tails became fixed in the ice and they could 
not free themselves. 

We then thought of sheltering the dogs in holes dug into the 
snow, which had been carried and heaped up by the drift which had 
nearly buried them a few days previously. All the crew set to work 
eagerly at this new undertaking, and with pick-axes and shovels 
they hollowed out two caves more than three feet high, many feet 






The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 161 

square, and ventilated by means of the wind-sails belonging to the 
engine-room. By the light of our lanterns these grottoes presented 
a fantastic appearance. The dogs were shut up in them ; but with 
the help of their teeth and claws, they made a passage beside the 
doors and escaped. Our guides, like good mountaineers, persisted 


in their determination to keep them shut up ; they, therefore, placed 
close to the door boxes of biscuits, round which they poured water. 
This, when it froze, made a wall in which the dogs' claws could 
open no breach. But it was all in vain, for the dogs then dug out, 
alongside the boxes, tunnels, which in some cases were from sixteen to 
nineteen feet long. At other times, by dint of incredible efforts, they 
VOL. i. i i 

1 62 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

made their way out through the wind-sails, the inner end of which 
was over four feet from the ground. As they surpassed us in 
obstinacy and cunning, at last we gave up the idea of keeping 
them always shut in, and left them free to take shelter in the 
caverns during bad weather if they chose. 

Later on, their former kennels underwent another transforma- 
tion. The partitions were taken away and they were changed into 
long corridors, in which the dogs were housed until the departure 
of the expedition. 

The Italian Queen's birthday was celebrated on November 2oth 
by the distribution of the gifts whidi Her Majesty had sent to me by 
The Italian Count Oldofredi when I was about to leave Archangel. 


Birthday. When the mishap to our ship had occurred, the boxes 

had not been forgotten, for I attached great value to these 
memorials, which we highly prized, particularly at this time. One 
of these boxes had been opened on October 2ist, and the presents 
so kindly sent by the Duchess Helena of Aosta distributed to 
the officers and sailors. Her Majesty the Queen had sent silver 
chains for the sailors, and various other trinkets for the officers- 
each gift bearing the name of the person for whom it^was intended 
an act of kindly courtesy which enabled me to gladden my 
comrades with memorials of Italy, which was so far away. The 
day was not very fine, for I read in my diary : " Stiff breeze 
from the north-east, which subsides towards six o'clock in the 
evening; temperature -22 C. ; the sky is clouded at times, the 
surroundings are lit up by the moon. Before dinner I take my 
usual monotonous walk before the tent for about two hours, dressed 
in a wind-proof coat." But if our situation did not allow us much 
in the way of amusement, the thought that we were the first Italians 
who had ever celebrated the anniversary of our Queen's birth in so 

The Feasts of Christ mas and the New Year 163 

high a latitude, together with the memories of our distant country, 
which on such an occasion arose more vividly in our minds, were 
enough to inspire us all with an unwonted gaiety. 


On December I5th I explained to my companions the plan ot 
our sledge expedition, of which only the main outlines were known 
until then, and not the details. As on November ist 
we still had had daylight for three or four hours, I had 
calculated that the sledge expedition would have been 
able to start from the hut in the second half of February, when it 

Changes in the 

164 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

would have been possible to march for six or seven hours daily. 
Every day gained at our departure, without adding much to the 
hardships caused by the cold (for the temperature remains very 
low until the end of March), would have very much advanced 
the date of the return of the expedition ; and I was positively 
determined not to let our return be delayed beyond the end 
of May. If the expedition was to carry provisions for ninety 
days, and to start on February 1 5th, it would be able to return 
between May I5th and 2oth, and there would remain a few days 
to spare, if, for any reason, our arrival at Prince Rudolph Island 
were delayed. 

I also drew attention to the changes which my provisional plan 
might undergo when it was carried out. By Dr. Cavalli's advice the daily 
rations had been definitely fixed at 2 Ib. 13 oz. 13 dr. per head ; this did 
not include the weight of the cases, but if they were taken into account, 
the total would be more than 3 Ib. 4 oz. 14 dr., the weight which had 
been at first decided on. On account of this increase it was thought 
advisable to reduce the number of men in each detachment from four 
to three, while keeping the same number of sledges. At starting 
there would not be a man to every sledge ; but, after a few days, as 
the provisions were consumed, the number of sledges would be 
equal to the number of men. 

According to my original plan, I had intended to establish during 
the autumn depots of provisions to the north of the place where we 
should pass the winter. But, since 1 had succeeded in reaching the 
most northern island of the archipelago, and as I did not believe 
that there was any land beyond it, it was no longer necessary 
to take that matter into consideration. I had also thought at 
first that the sledge expedition would have to return as far as 
80 N., instead of to Teplitz Bay, which is in 81 47' N. For 

The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 165 

that reason 1 had changed somewhat the number of days in my 
definitive plan. 

In starting, therefore, from Cape Fligely, the expedition was 
to be composed of three detachments of three men each ; the 
first carrying provisions for thirty days, the second for sixty, and 
the third for ninety. A fourth detachment, acting as an auxiliary, 
was to enable the third detachment to march two days longer, 
making in all forty-seven days, and would also help the expedition 
on the first two days of its march. Nansen had taken with him 
a kayak 1 for each man, in order to be able to travel more 
speedily along the coast, and, if necessary, to reach Spitzbergen. 
I had several kayaks like Nansen's, which would hold one or two 
persons, so that I could have left some at different points along 
our route, in case we had not been able to sail as far as Prince 
Rudolph Island, and still have two remaining for each of our detach- 
ments. But on account of the place where we were passing the 
winter, I thought and my companions agreed with me that it would 
be enough to give two kayaks, each with room for a single person, 
to the two last detachments only, since it would be useless to give 
any to the first, as this would return in the month of March, and 
would not, therefore, want them. In the case of the last detachment, 
the one most likely to make use of these boats, they would only 
serve to cross the channels, and to send one or two men from 
the edge of the ice-pack to the camp on Prince Rudolph Island 
for assistance. Two of these canoes lashed together can support 
tour men, and were, therefore, more than enough for these two 
purposes. As to the balloons, we all agreed that they could be of no 
use. On account of the accident which had happened to the ship, a 
part of the aeronautic outfit (that is to say, the small boiler and the 
1 The canoe of the Esquimaux. It is described in Chapter IX. 

1 66 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

pump) had been employed to free the ship from water ; another part 
(the iron filings) had been left in the water at the bottom of the hold, 
and could not be got out. Whatever else would have served to 
get the balloons ready and to inflate them, had been employed to 
build our dwelling place. Moreover, the state of the ice near Prince 


Rudolph Island required that some one should be continually near 
the sledges while on the march, so that there would be only one man 
left to attend to the balloons, and as wind is so infrequent in these 
regions, we could not hope to make use of them, or even to inflate 
them. If the ship had not been driven on shore, it might have been 

The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 167 

of some use to inflate the balloons (and we should certainly have 
attempted it), but in the present state of the expedition, when there 
was still so much work to be done, it was useless to waste our time 
in getting ready apparatus from which we were certain that we could 
not derive any real advantage. 

Although the Aurora borealis was visible nearly every evening, 
it was only now and then that it was so bright as to attract our 
attention. One of the most beautiful was that which occurred on 
the evening of December ist. Nearly all the vault The Aurora 
of heaven was lit up by curtains of light, with folds 
undulating in all directions, some of which seemed to be moving 
at a considerable height. To the north-east, beyond a mountain, 
from whence the Aurora always began, the heavens were reddened 
as though by the flames of an immense conflagration. The light, 
indeed, was so strong that it lit up everything as though there 
were a full moon. The period of greatest intensity lasted tor 
a couple of hours, and then the Aurora resumed its usual 
appearance. 1 

The birthdays of Captain Cagni and of Lieutenant Querini, 
which occurred on December i6th and i8th, were Wetrainthe 
celebrated by drinking many toasts to them. On 
December i9th we began to harness the dogs in order to 
train them, and to accustom those less docile to pull together 
with the others. 

The first attempts were enough to make us .despair. When a 
sledge drove away, the teams which remained behind were thrown into 
the utmost disorder. All the dogs wanted to follow it, and they 
became entangled in their traces by the bounds they made while trying 

1 See Scientific Obsewations, Part I., Chapter V., "Aurora borealis": report 
of Commander Umberto Cagni. 

1 68 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to drag their sledges forward. Some dogs were very willing, but 
others only let themselves be dragged along by their comrades, and if 
they were beaten, they tried to turn round and bite. Others, again, as 
soon as the sledges stopped, began at once to gnaw the traces in order 
to escape. Even then we ascertained that when they worked willingly 
they could easily drag over level ground the weight of 617 Ib. 
on which we had decided. After these trials we put a mark 
on the dogs which had worked best, in order to distinguish them 
from the others, and those which were less docile we harnessed with 
dogs not yet tried, so that all might be trained in the course of 

We went out as usual on the afternoon of the 23rd. The 
temperature was about 2 C., and a light wind was blowing from 
the north-west. 

We drove at a rapid pace towards the bottom of the bay ; the 
snow was in a better state than on other days, and so we were able to 
travel more quickly than usual. As we advanced, the wind freshened, 
raising a slight mist, which hid the sledges and barely allowed us to 
see the lantern carried by Petigax, who led the train. After driving 
for an hour and a half, Captain Cagni, who was in front, stopped to 
allow the other sledges to come up with him. Just at that moment 
the wind began to blow more strongly from a different point, and the 
temperature fell quickly to 20 C. The traces left by the sledges 
on the snow, which were visible only in some places where it was 
softer, were soon covered up, and we found it difficult to ascertain our 
true position. 

We started to return. Captain Cagni, who was in the first 
sledge along with Petigax, felt assured that the dogs would of them- 
selves find their way back to the hut, but, after a few minutes, 
we realised that they had lost the track they made when on the 


The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 171 

journey out. The sledges then began to run with great speed, 
and it was evident that we were descending a rather steep declivity. 
How had we gone astray ? for whilst we believed that we were 


on the ice in the bay, we were, on the contrary, on the glacier ot 
the island. 

I went forward with Petigax, but I had not gone thirty yards 
when I saw, by the light of the lantern, that the glacier ended abruptly. 
We shouted in vain to our companions to stop ; for the dogs, which 

172 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

saw Petigax's lantern ahead of them, rushed forward, and two sledges 
with their dogs, as well as Captain Cagni and I, fell from the glacier 
down to the bay, a fall of some twenty-three feet. The other sledges 
luckily stopped. Captain Cagni's first words, mingled with the howls 
of the dogs, alarmed me, but I was soon reassured. Neither of us was 
hurt. We calmed the fears of our companions, who from the glacier 
above us were inquiring anxiously about our safety, and waited till 
they rejoined us. Where were we ? 

The glacier was ended by a fall of several yards down to the 
frozen sea, except at the spot at the bottom of the bay which I had 
visited in my autumn excursion, where a gradual slope led from the 
island down to the ice-field. We must have gone up on the island 
exactly at that spot, but it was impossible to know if we were now to 
the right or the left of it that is to say, in the direction of the bottom 
of the bay or towards the sea. A quarter of an hour elapsed, and 
the time seemed long, but at last, to my great relief, I saw close 
by me a flickering light, and the tall form of Petigax, who was pre- 
ceding his companions and the sledges. 

We relieved the sledges of all burden in order to facilitate our 
homeward journey, and leading the dogs, we tried to find a way out of 
the place we were in. Petigax went first, sinking every now and then 
up to his knees in some crevasse which he could not see. The wind 
put out his lantern continually, and in order to relight it we were 
obliged to stop and stand round it. In the direction which we took at 
first we found holes and crevasses, and were forced to retrace our steps. 
Owing to the darkness and the drift we could see nothing, and it was 
not easy to advance over such a rugged surface. We succeeded at last 
in extricating ourselves from the place into which we had fallen, and in 
finding more level ice, which was probably that of the bay. But our 
difficulties were not yet ended. We hoped, indeed, that we were 

The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 173 

trending in the right direction, but as we could see nothing, we could 
not tell whither we were going. The snow, driven by the wind, froze 
on our eyelashes, and to be able to keep our eyes open, we had to 
remove it from time to time with ungloved hands. 

As we went farther away from the ice-cliff of the glacier, we felt 
still more the force of the wind, and as we had come out lightly 
clad, so as not to become too much heated whilst running after the 
sledges, we felt the cold very much. 

I had already begun to fear that unless the weather changed we 
might be exposed to this storm for several hours, when the sky 
became clear overhead and the stars were to be seen. We then 
guided our course by a star which we recognised, and soon heard 
the distant sound of a bell, which showed us that our friends in 
the camp were uneasy about us, and making signals to help us 
on our way back. The drift carried by the wind was so thick 
that until we were close to the ship we did not see a lantern 
which hung at the mizzen-mast. Captain Evensen was getting 
ready to go and look for us, but our hardships were ended at last. 
We had only lost a dog, hurt by the fall> and left two sledges 
behind. I was already congratulating myself that our excursion had 
ended so happily when, on taking off my gloves, I was disagreeably 
surprised to find that the fingers of my left hand were partly frozen ; 
so were also those of Captain Cagni's right hand. Our doctor was 
just then rubbing one of the ears of Gini, our cook, which was in the 
same state. Snow and water were immediately brought into the tent, 
and we rubbed ourselves for a considerable time, but, unfortunately, 
without restoring the circulation of the last joints of two of my fingers. 

A violent snowstorm from the west raged all day on the 2jrd. 
The force of the wind was such that Lieutenant Querini was not able to 
go to the instrument hut, which was hardly thirty yards away from 

174 O n th e Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

the tent. He would have required to have been tied with a rope to 
get there. The storm made us lose all hope of finding our sledges 
again, and although we often looked for them, not only in winter, but 
also later on, in summer, our search was useless. 

We celebrated Christmas with as much splendour as possible. 
In honour of the occasion we gave our tents a good washing, of 
Christmas and which they stood much in need. When this was finished 

New Year's Day. 

we relt as though the huts were no longer the same, and 
when we sat down to breakfast everything seemed beautiful, though 
this miraculous change had been brought about only by water. 
The gifts sent by Her Majesty the Queen and the Princesses 
Letitia and Helena, Duchess of Aosta, were put together to form a 
Christmas tree. The fir-tree was represented by our tent-poles, on 
which were hung a part of the presents, and with the handsomest 
of which we got up a grand lottery. The crew were invited into our 
tent, and we passed part of the day together. The feast ended in the 
evening by a dinner, with which the cook, although unwell, sought to 
make us forget the hardships of the season. We even had some 
pastry, made with the last remaining eggs, which, although frozen, 
had been well preserved. 

In the last days of December the temperature, fell to 35 C. 
During the night of the 2yth, four days after our unlucky excursion, 
the pain in my fingers grew worse, and gave me no rest by day or by 
night. Inflammation had set in at the junction of the living and the 
dead flesh. My fingers were of a dark colour ; the skin rose from 
the part which had been frozen, and formed blisters full of serous 
matter. They had the appearance of having been severely scalded. 
These pains lasted for three or four days, and then ceased ; but my 
hand remained very sensitive to cold. 

The beginning of the New Year drew near, and this feast, too. 

The Feasts of Christmas and the New Year 175 

was celebrated with the utmost enthusiasm. The doctor had the 
greatest share in promoting these rejoicings. Fireworks, consisting 
of rockets and fiery fountains, were got ready to welcome at midnight 
the New Year, which was to be the last of the expiring century. 
At midnight we fired salutes from our small gun ; the sailors lit 
fountains of fire and sent off rockets, while piles of wood steeped 
in petroleum were burnt round the tent, and threw a white light 
on the surrounding ice. The temperature that night was bitterly 
cold ( 31 C.), and made us return soon to the hut, to begin our 
first sleep of the New Year. 


The Polar Night and the Preparations for our 


VOL. I. 12 





HE preparation of an expedition on sledges across ice demands 
much care, so that the weight to be carried may be reduced to 
a minimum, while, by judicious selection of rations Equipment of 

the Expedition 

and outfit, the members of the expedition may be towards the Pole, 
enabled to resist fatigue, and live in a climate for which man is 
not adapted. 

Two sorts of stores were to be carried on the sledges those for 


daily consumption, such as food for the men and dogs, and those 
which would not vary, such as kayaks, tents, sleeping-bags, cooking- 
stoves, arms, instruments, and changes of clothes. 

180 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Dr. Cavalli, guided by the data furnished by Greely and 
Nares, had fixed our rations at 2 Ib. 12 oz. 9 dr., as may be seen 
by the following list : 

Biscuit . 
Tinned Meat 2 
Pemmican 3 
Butter . 

Liebig's Extract 
Vegetables 4 . 
Italian Paste . 

Pepper . 
Coffee, Tea, and 
Chocolate 5 . 

Alcohol . 



Oz. 1 Kilos. 



Kilos. Kilos. 

Oz. Dr. 

10*00 0*283 
11*00 0*311 
1 1*00 o'3 1 r 

2'00 0-057 
I*OO O'O28 


0*396 0*400 
0-113 0-250 
"453 0-300 



H I-7532 
8 I3-095 8 
ro 9-3149 
3 8-4383 
i 6-5753 

0*50 0*014 
3*00 0*085 

2 '00 


0*057 '030 

i 0-9315 

2*00 0057 


0^057 0-040 

i 12-2192 
i 6-5753 

0*25 0*007 


0*007 0-014 

7"9 OI 3 

0*05 o'ooi 

o 05 


i'oo 0*028 



0*099 0*026 
0*004 o'oo""j 

- H-6739 

41*80 1*182 


1-187 1-265 

44 9-9444 

1*50 0*042 




6 5-5889 

43-30 1*224 

46*92 I- 3 2 9 I "445 

5 15-5333 

1 The English ounce is equal to 0*0283 kilos. 

2 GREELY : Tinned meat, 7 oz. ; salt meat, 4 oz. NARES : Salt meat. OUR 
RATION : Tinned beef cooked. 

3 Pemmican is pulverised meat mixed with an equal or larger quantity of beef-fat, 
so that it furnishes at the same time the albuminoids, the azotates, and the hydro- 
carbonates necessary for man's food. It is easily cooked, and can even be eaten raw ; 
it keeps well, and does not require to be hermetically sealed in a tin. It has, however } 
the drawback of not being always well suited to the digestive organs. 

4 GREELY : Potatoes. NARES : Potatoes. OUR RATION : Desiccated vegetables 

5 GREELY : Tea, chocolate. NARES : Tea, ^ oz. ; chocolate, i oz. ; rum, 2 oz. 
OUR RATION : Tea, 3 dr. ; coffee, 10 dr. 

The Preparations for our Departure 181 

The quantity of petroleum required to cook our food had 
been calculated from what Nansen had consumed. As we had the 
same cooking-stoves, and were to use them while exposed to the same 
temperature, the quantity which he had found sufficient ought to be 
enough for us. It had been fixed at 3 oz. 8 dr. for each man daily, 


and thus brought up the weight of the daily ration for each person 
to 3 Ib. o oz. 2 dr., without reckoning the weight of the cases. 1 
made the mistake, at first, of looking on this weight as insignificant, 
but found, on the contrary, it augmented by not a little the weight 
of what we consumed each day. Nansen had reduced it to a 

1 82 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

minimum by carrying all the desiccated food in bags, and doing 
away with jars. With regard to many sorts of food which might 
be spoiled by changes of temperature, such as meat and condensed 
milk, we did not consider it safe to do without the cases ; as to 
others, such as biscuits and Italian paste, we thought it would be 
better to keep them in boxes, lest they should be spoiled if the 
sledge which carried them fell into the water. Tea, coffee, sugar, 
and salt, in compressed tabloids, were put in little tin cases to 
prevent spoiling by the jolting of the sledges. The total difference 
between the nett weight of the provisions we carried and the gross 
weight of the same with their cases was about 14 per cent., and 
this difference brought the gross weight of each ration up to 
3 Ib. 9 oz. 13 dr. 

The dogs' ration of pemmican was fixed at i Ib. i oz. 10 dr., which 
was a large quantity, but we thought it necessary for them on account 
of the long marches they would have to make. On weighing our 
dogs, we found that, if we slaughtered them, they would not furnish 
the twenty rations each on which, judging by Nansen's experience, 
I had thought at first that I might have calculated. In order, there- 
fore, to have a certain number of rations over and above, it was settled 
that each dog slaughtered should be reckoned as providing only ten 

We had already begun in December to make experiments with 
regard to the packing of that part of our outfit which should form the 
dead weight to be carried on our sledges. 

Our boats were kayaks, like those used by Nansen. They were 
built in the shape of punts, but their planking was replaced by canvas, 
carefully sewn, so as to render the boat stanch. They had also a 
canvas deck, with a hole in the centre, in which sat the rower, who 
thus had his legs in the interior of the kayak. The framework alone, 

The Preparations for our Departure 183 

on which the canvas was stretched, was of wood, and to make the boat 
light, it was formed of thin rods. The bottoms of Nansen's kayaks 
were slightly convex, but mine were flat-bottomed, so as to be more 
easily fitted on the sledges. Their greatest length was 1 1 ft. 7 in., 

their width 2 ft. 6 in., and their height 1 1 in. They were provided 
with a small sail, a pump to empty out the water, and a pair of 
oars with their rowlocks. Although these kayaks, being made of 
canvas and thin rods, had the drawback of being easily injured if they 
struck or scraped against a rock, they Were still sufficiently strong, 

and besides formed the lightest mode of transport known, and the 
most easily mended. 

The sledges were after the model of those used by Nansen, and, 
like the kayaks, had been built according to his suggestions. They 
were 1 1 ft. 5 in. long, I ft. 6 in. wide, and 6^ in. high. The 

184 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

runners were provided with a convex section, so that it might 
be more easy to turn the sledge ; they were shod with plates of 
white metal, in order to slide more easily over soft snow, and 
wooden runners were strapped beneath them, to be used when 
crossing ice, or when the snow was granulated during intense 
cold. The foremost ends of the runners were joined by a bow, 
to which the trace was attached ; no nails were used, but the 
various parts were lashed together so as to give more elasticity 
to the entire sledge. Nansen had used his bags of provisions to 
support and protect the kayaks on the sledges ; but as I feared that 
they might be too easily wrenched off by the sharp points of the ice 
and their contents devoured by the dogs, I had provided aluminium 
cases, which could be placed on the sledges, and on the top of which 
the kayaks could be safely carried. 

The runners were saturated with a mixture of pitch, stearine, and 
tallow, to render them more slippery and more durable. 

When in Alaska, I had always used a rectangular Mummery tent, 
which could hold three persons, and was supported at the ends by two 
poles. I had our new tents made after the same model, but of larger 
size, so that four persons could sleep in them three lengthwise and one 
crosswise. They were 9 ft. long, 6 ft. 5 in. wide, 4 ft. 1 1 in. 
high in the middle, and 2 ft. 1 1 in. at the sides. These dimensions 
had been so calculated that no space remained beyond what was occu- 
pied by the four persons. The tents were of silk, the bottom only 
of canvas. There were two bamboo poles, to which were attached 
six tent ropes, two front and rear, and four at the sides. 1 

The single and double sleeping-bags purchased in Norway were 

1 This tent for four persons was again enlarged, so that the four might lie 
comfortably side by side, and leave room at the foot for the cooking-stove and the 

^su>.6u, /'/////s/ //'(>/// /> //// 
/' ' 

The Preparations for our Departure 185 

found to be too short ; we made others large enough to hold three or 
four persons comfortably, and long enough to allow them to lie at full 
length without exposing their heads beyond the upper edge of the 
opening, so that their shoulders were always covered. The flap which 
closed the opening, which was secured by three straps with buckles, 
was of ample size, and could thus prevent the cold air from pene- 
trating into the interior. By making the sleeping-bags large enough 
to hold several men, a great saving in weight was effected, and there 

was an increase of warmth inside. These bags were lined with the 
same canvas as that employed to make the wind-repellers. 

We had chosen lamps made on the Primus system, which burn 
petroleum; they are best adapted for an expedition like ours, and the 
most to be relied on. The cooking-stove was that designed by 
Nansen ; it was of aluminium, but the saucepans were of German 
silver. They were so light that we doubted whether they could stand 
much wear, and tested them over the fire for several days, until we 

1 86 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

were perfectly reassured. The table service consisted of a tin dish, a 
glass, and a spoon for each man, and were made so as to fit into each 
other, and be packed up in the inner saucepan. 

For our arms we chose double-barrelled rifles of -303 calibre and 
20 bore, with which we could fire both ball and small shot. As we 
could not hope to meet with much game in the months in which 


our expedition was to take place, we decided to carry only a few 

The cooking-stoves fitted exactly into the openings in the kayaks^ 
where they were safely placed and well protected while travelling ; the 
Primus lamps, the scientific instruments, a few books and notebooks, 
the cartridges and everything else which we might require, such as 
string, needles and thread, were packed in a wooden box. Our instru- 
ments consisted of a sextant of aluminium, an artificial glass horizon, 
two ordinary thermometers, a maximum and a minimum thermometer, 
a pocket aneroid, and a surveyor's compass. 

The Preparations for our Departure 187 

We had also a stereoscopic telescope by Zeiss, and three pocket 
chronometers for the last detachment, two for the second, and one for 
the first. Besides these chronometers, each detachment had a good 
watch. A small medicine-chest contained the drugs most requisite 
for an expedition in case of accidents or illness. 

The lightness and softness of camel-hair coats had led me to 
purchase some in England for the sledge expedition. On account 
of their great warmth, they had seemed to me preferable to the fur 
clothing we had previously worn, but we found afterwards that they 
heated the body too much while marching, and let it be chilled when 
halting, and the perspiration froze. For foot-gear we chose the fins 'kos 
and the komagers^ which, along with two or three pairs of stockings 


and some sedge grass for padding, kept the feet warm, and were 
very light. 

As we had given up using the bamboo pole and the traces made 
in Norway, we made new traces of ordinary rope. To each trace were 

1 88 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

attached eight shorter ones, two by two, four on each side, to which 
the dogs' harness was tied merely by a knot. Rings were fixed on the 
central trace, on a level with the heads of the dogs when they were 
pulling, and to which they were hooked on by a short chain, which 
also served to tie them up during the night. Our dogs' harness, like 
that made by other explorers, consisted of canvas collars carrying 
four strips of canvas, two of which passed between the animal's fore- 
legs and two along its back, where they were all united to the 
trace. Each sledge was provided with a small steel rope, with as 
many rings as there were dogs, to tie them to, at a distance of four 
and a half feet from each other, when we encamped. We were 
obliged to make larger hooks than those we had brought with us, 
so as to be able to hook the dogs to the traces and the steel ropes, 
and to loosen them again while wearing our woollen gloves. 

Captain Cagni's forefinger was already nearly healed, but, in my 
case, it was found necessary to amputate the ends of my fingers. 
i yield the Com- I was anxious that the doctor should perform the opera- 

mand of the 

siedge Expedi- tion as soon as possible, that the wounds might be 
tion to Captain 

cured in time, but he delayed it, hoping to save the 
part which was not irretrievably lost. As he could not perform the 
amputation before the middle of the month, I began to fear that I 
should not be able to take part in the coming expedition. It would 
be impossible to make use of my hand, if my fingers had recently 
undergone an operation, and they would require to be dressed under 
a tent, which would be impossible while on the march. If under 
ordinary conditions it is awkward not to be able to use one's 
hand, in these regions, and in such a state of health, I should have 
been under the necessity of being continually assisted by others, 
which would have rendered me useless in a position where all of 
us, and especially those .in command, were obliged to give a good 

The Preparations for our Departure 189 

example. Considering also that a sudden augmentation of the injury, 
or a second frost-bite, which might easily happen to a finger that 
had once been frozen, might oblige me to return to the hut, it 
is easy to see that I should be a source of anxiety for my com- 
panions, and might at any moment cause the failure of the 


expedition. Even on January i5th, when the doctor had not 
as yet informed me what he intended to do, I had told 
Captain Cagni that he was to take command of the expedition 
instead of me. I could not have entrusted it to a leader more 
gifted with energy and activity, more prompt at finding expedients, 

190 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

or endowed with greater moral and physical endurance. In giving 
Captain Cagni the command of the expedition, I left him free to 
take all the measures with regard to details which he might think 
best adapted to ensure success, while following the general lines on 
which we were both agreed. On January i8th nearly all the first joint 
of my middle finger was amputated, and ten days later a part of the 
fourth finger. 


On the evening of January I2th a violent storm burst out, which 
lasted until the morning of the I4th. We could take no obser- 
vations, as it was impossible to remain outside the tent. 

Our Tent is 

anow! 11 we e can ie l t was ^ e only -time in the course of the winter when 

hardly get out. i j i 

we could not go out to carry on our usual occupations, 
and were unable to take observations. While the storm lasted, 
our tent, although buried under the snow, was shaken by the force 
of the wind, and the whirling snow, beating against its sides, made 
a noise like the rushing of water through a conduit. When, on 
the morning of the I4th, we wished to go out, we found the 
door blocked up by snow, to a depth of ten or twelve feet, and 
were obliged to draw the snow into the porch and dig a way 
through it, which could let a single person pass out. Outside the 
tent the snow had been piled up to leeward of the different huts 
till on a level with them, and the roof of our tent rose only a 
yard above it. These gusts of wind, which lasted only a few 
hours, had prepared work for us for two or three days. 

These snowstorms had obliged us to cease to protect our in- 
struments with cages ; we decided to hang them on a pole, and 
leave them always exposed to the air, as the wind would carry away 
the snow which fell on them. There was, at first, some trouble 
with the thermograph ; but later on, when the larger openings had 
been closed with waterproof paper, and several tins of butter had 

The Preparations for our Departure 191 

been employed in filling up the clefts round the cover, it was 
able to act, even during the strongest winds ; and, as it was 
free from snow all round, it always gave exact results. The 
thermograph, the two hair hygrometers, and the thermometers 


were all hung on this pole, and remained there for the winter 
and the following spring until May. 

On January i yth the temperature rose again to 6 C., and 

on the 9th to 2 C. To the north-west and south-west there were 

wide belts of open water, stretching almost all round the 

Daylight returns. . . 

island ; the sea could be heard breaking against the ice 
fixed along the coast ; and, towards the west, we could not see by 

1 92 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

moonlight the edge of the ice-pack. We were not much pleased to 
observe this open water, on account of the hindrance which it would 
prove at the beginning of our sledge expedition. January was, how- 
ever, a cold month ; and there were very few days on which the 
temperature rose. There was but little wind in the second half. 
As the stoves were kept lighted nearly all day in the tents, the 
temperature there was always between 15 C. and 16 C. ; but at 


night, when they were put out, it fell to i C. In the first tent 
the temperature, which by day rose to 10 C., fell at night to 
5 C. or 6 C., and in the second tent to 15 C., while 
outside the temperature was 40 C. The consumption of coal, 
both for the stoves and for the kitchen, was never more than 
33 Ib. 3 oz. 2 dr. a day. 

As the brightness of the twilight continued to increase, we 

The Preparations for our Departure 193 

harnessed the dogs to the sledges every day in order to break in the 
more stubborn, and to be able to select the best. The Polar night 
ended on January 2ist; this joyful event coincided with the name- 
day of the King of Sweden, which we celebrated. On January 26th, 
between eleven and one, the sky was already bright enough to 
allow us to see what was around us, while walking on the ice. 
The horizon, as the sun came nearer to it, became lit up with 
different colours greenish at first, and then red. These colours 
appeared towards morning in the east, followed the sun in its 
progress towards the south and then to the west. Although several 
days were still to elapse before the sun appeared, we could feel that 
it was slowly returning. The sea froze again in the last days of 
January, on account of the prevalence of calm weather and the 
low temperature, and we could see nothing from the summit of Cape 
Saulen but snow and ice both on land and sea. 

On January 29th, which was my name-day, the tent was de- 
corated with Italian and Norwegian flags, and as they fluttered in 
the breeze, and were lit up by the gradually increasing daylight, they 
filled my mind with emotion. But seeing them on land, beside our 
hut, and not on our ship, I could not but reflect that, in order to 
return home, we should have to find means to free the Polar Star 
from the ice in which she lay imprisoned. 

VOL. i. 13 

Departure of the Expedition towards the Pole 



LIGHT came back quickly, and the progressive lengthening of 
the days was very apparent to us after living so long in 
utter darkness. On February 8th the stars were no longer to be 
seen at noon. The aspect of the bay and of everything 

; / t> Aspect of Tep- 

around us had changed. The hut, and the ship, which 

. r . ...... Excursion. 

lay to the north or the bay, were entirely buried in snow, 
which covered also the porch, the carpenter's hut, and the kennels. 
Some passages leading from the door of our hut gave access to 
other places which were buried. The sea was everywhere frozen, 
and the recently formed belts of ice were easily distinguished from 
the rest, as they were perfectly level. 

We worked energetically to fit out the expedition to the Pole ; 
the sledges and kayaks were got ready on board the ship ; the 
provisions, clothes, sleeping-bags, and tents in our hut. The 
sledges were loaded one after the other beneath the shelter of the 
magnetic hut ; they were then dragged out and covered with tarpaulin 
until the time came for leaving. 

The belt of open or hardly frozen water, which was often to be 
found to the west of the island, made us doubt as to whether on 
starting we could proceed from Teplitz Bay direct towards the north. 
If this belt were to stop the march of the expedition, it would be 
necessary to advance along the coast up to the point where the belt 


198 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

came to an end, so as not to delay the departure for some days, or 
even for some weeks. Since the ice drifted towards the west, we 
were almost certain that at Cape Fligely we should always find the 
ice-pack touching the coast, and, therefore, be obliged to follow the 
island, at farthest, only as far as Cape Fligely. The ice-cliff which 
ends the glacier rendered it impossible to descend everywhere, so 
Captain Cagni resolved to go with the guides, Petigax and Fenoillet, 
to examine it. He was away from February 12th to I4th, and 
enabled to ascertain that it was possible to descend from the 
glacier at many points along the coast between Cape Germania and 
Cape FHgely. He also tested our equipment by a temperature of 
31 C. The sleeping-bag was found to be sufficiently warm, and 
there was plenty of food for the men and the dogs. As there was not 
as yet much light, on cloudy days especially, we could not see distinctly 
for more than six or seven hours. We decided, therefore, to put off 
the departure for some days. 

While Captain Cagni was away, the dogs had been caught and 
tied in front of the hut, to be fed for some days on pemmican. 
The Health of During the six months we had passed in Teplitz Bay only 

the Dogs. Some . 

varieties are thirteen or them had been lost, oix had died in autumn, 

Better than 

others. anc j tne seven others in winter ; some were killed by 

their companions, others by falling into a crevasse or by being buried 
under the snow in a storm. They had fought with each other 
frequently in the autumn, but very rarely in the darkness of the 
winter ; and though it was impossible then to watch them carefully, 
a fight could not have taken place even when they were at some 
distance, without attracting our attention. 

We were glad to see our dogs again in as good a condition as 
they had been in the autumn, for they had become so thin during the 
winter that we had felt alarmed. This was on account of the intense 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 199 

cold, and because their dried fish had been so hardened by the frost 
that they could not eat it, whilst they had only frozen snow to quench 
their thirst ; it was also on account of the frequent storms, and perhaps, 
too, of the darkness. When they had been nourished on food which 
contained more fat, and was more easy to eat (such as Fedte-Grever's 
excellent tablets and Spratt's English biscuits), they were soon brought 
almost to their former condition. Although born in an intensely 
cold country, they were not insensible to temperatures below --30 C. 


When it was very cold, they were often seen to raise their paws out of 
the snow from time to time, and to go about looking for straw or 
wood to lie upon. They often went up on the top of our tent to 
warm themselves round the kitchen chimney. Both while training 
them and in stormy weather, we had become convinced that the short- 
haired dogs resembling wolves, of the type described by Wrangell, 
were very much superior to the long-haired dogs of various races ; 
they showed greater resistance to the inclemency of the weather and 
greater strength when drawing the sledges. When there was a storm, 

2OO On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

the hair of the long-haired dogs was filled with snow, which froze and 
formed a cuirass round the body, which prevented them from moving. 
This did not happen to the short-haired dogs, which were also more 
nimble, stronger, more willing and more strenuous when harnessed to 
the sledges, and also more courageous when hunting the bear. 

While the Polar night lasted, the number of our dogs had been 
augmented by twenty-one puppies ; seven more were born later, so 
that twenty-eight in all were born at Teplitz Bay ; but, with few 
exceptions, those dogs born during the winter always remained small 
and of little use for draught. 

Captain Evensen and the sailors, Hans and Ole, had been chosen 
to form the auxiliary detachment, which was to accompany the expe- 
Formationof dition for two days only, and would prove especially 

the Auxiliary 

Detachment. useful while crossing the belt of ice near the island, which, 
it was foreseen, would present difficulties to our advance. To 
facilitate the return of the detachments to the island, in case there 
should be belts of open water or of newly formed ice, it was decided 
to place an outpost at Cape " Eligely, and the following agreement was 
made with the leaders of the detachrhehts : 

On the twenty-fifth day after the departure of the expedition from 
Teplitz Bay, men should be sent to Cape Fligely to watch for the 
return of the first detachment, and to assist it. They would be pro- 
vided with a good- telescope and a boat. If the first detachment, when 
not more than eight miles from the north coast of the island, were to 
find it impossible to continue its journey, it would hoist some sort of 
a ball on its tent-poles tied together. When the men at Cape Fligely 
saw the signal made by the detachment on the ice-pack, they too were 
to hoist a ball, as high as possible, in some place where it could be 
easily seen, and where it might stand out against the island in the back- 
ground. The same outlook was to be kept on the fifty-fifth day after 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 201 

the departure of the expedition, until the return of the second detach- 
ment, and on the eighty-fifth day until the third detachment came 

We celebrated Captain Cagni's birthday in advance on Sunday, 
February i8th. We then met for our usual Sunday devotions, after 
which Captain Cagni, addressing me, saluted me in the name of all 


present, and assured me that he and his companions would do every- 
thing in their power to achieve success. In reply, I expressed my 
regret at our separation, and my conviction that the expedition would 
end happily, since I saw that they were leaving fully resolved to over- 
come every obstacle and to endure every privation. 

The 1 9th had been fixed for the departure. Contrary to our 

2O2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

hopes, there was to the west of the island a belt of ice too thin to bear 
the weight of the sledges. This belt, which in some places was 
Departure of as much as a mile and one-third wide, began at Cape 

the Expedition . 

towards the Pole. Rohlrs, and, skirting the coast up to Cape Saulen, 
trended towards Cape Clement Markham. It would not have 
been prudent to attempt to cross it, because the ice was not 
thick enough, and moreover was intersected in every direction by 
channels. We were, therefore, obliged to give up the idea of start- 
ing from the bay towards the north, and to follow the coast to 
beyond Cape Rohlfs. 

We began, then, that morning to send the sledges towards Cape 
Rohlfs. There was a breeze which at the temperature of 28 C. 
caused great pain to whatever part of the face was left uncovered. 
The dogs would not pull against the wind, and thus the ascent was 
most difficult and fatiguing. When some of the sledges had been 
dragged about twenty minutes' distance from the camp, we were 
obliged to leave them there and return to our hut ; the rest of the 
sledges were brought up in the afternoon. 

The fine weather of the previous day lasted during the night, and 
the temperature fell to 35C. The place where the sledges had 
been left was about half-way up the ascent to Cape Germania, and 
another day's work was necessary to collect them together on the top 
of the cape. The guides, Petigax and Fenoillet, were left there along 
with the dogs to pass the night, while all the others returned to the 
hut. As the day was cold and calm, we felt sure that the ice along the 
coast would be thick enough next day to allow the sledges to cross it. 

On the morning of the 2ist, Captain Cagni, with the rest of his 
men, left the hut at an early hour to rejoin Petigax and Fenoillet, and 
I followed them shortly afterwards with the doctor and the cook. We 
found the expedition at the camp ready to start. The sledges were 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 203 

drawn up in line, with the dogs tied to ice-axes stuck in the ice before 
them. At Captain Cagni's word of command they set out. The snow 
was in good condition and the land sloped gently downwards. This 
helped their progress, and the sledges were able to advance at a short 
distance from each other, taking up a length of about 200 yards. As 
the descent became more steep farther on, ropes were put round the 


runners to act as brakes, and we walked on together, stopping every 
fifteen or twenty minutes to wait for the sledges. The expedition 
halted near the coast. What was for me the most painful moment had 
come at last. I shook hands with them all, and the intensity of the 
various emotions which I felt brought tears to my eyes. Then, as the 
train of sledges moved slowly away, we saluted each other once more, 
with the cry three times repeated of " Long live the King ! " and my 
last sight of the expedition was when it halted near Cape Rohlfs. 

204 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

The temperature that day remained at about 35 C. ; the 
weather was calm and bright, and, except for the cold, seemed most 
promising for the beginning of the expedition, which was marching 
away in perfect order. It was composed of twelve men, 104 
dogs, and thirteen sledges, which, with their loads, weighed 617 Ib. 
each ; it had provisions for forty-five days for the last detach- 
ment, which, if it were able to return on May 2oth, would have 
passed the three most favourable months on the ice-packs. The 
leader was capable, the men determined, it was not the first time 
they were about to face dangers and privations, and they were 
all eager to win for Italy the glory of first reaching the Pole. But 
I could not conceal from myself the difficulties of the undertaking. 
The future and the success of the expedition were now in the hands 
of God, who, by protecting them against mishaps, illness, and bad 
weather, and by helping them en their way, could enable them to 
reach the goal. 

The Norwegians came back that evening. Andreas told me that 
they had lost sight of the expedition after it had crossed over a part 
of the belt of thin ice. That evening, although attentively cared 
for by my remaining companions, I felt myself overcome by a deep 

My first thought next morning was to ascertain what had been 
the lowest temperature during the previous night, and I was sorry to 
unexpected see that it had fallen to 47 C. Andreas had come 

Return of the 

Expedition. back with the fingers of one hand slightly frost-bitten. 
Although not a doctor, I was already beginning to understand this 
sort of accident rather well, and I was glad to perceive that, in this 
case, no bad results were to be apprehended. We passed the day 
in putting our hut somewhat in order, as it had been neglected on 
account of the pressure of work during the last few days. The 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 205 

absence of the dogs made the bay appear silent and deserted, and the 
desolation around us seemed intensified. 

The same calm and the same low temperature prevailed on the 
2jrd. The breaking up of the ice, as it was driven against the coast, 


made a noise which could be heard many miles away ; it was like the 
entrance of a train into a station, or the booming of cannon. If, in 
one way, this reassured me, since it would prevent channels from being 
formed along the island which might prevent the return of the 
auxiliary detachment, it made me also feel uneasy, as I feared the 
expedition might chance to be on some belt of newly formed ice 
subjected to pressure. 

As I was walking before the hut, about six o'clock that evening, 
I heard dogs barking in the distance. I thought that it was Captain 
Evensen who was coming back, but there seemed to be a large number 
of dogs, and the sounds did not become more distinct, as would have 

206 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

been the case if they were advancing towards us. Nothing could be 
seen from the level ground where our hut stood, and thinking that I 
had been deceived by the echo, and that Captain Evensen had stopped 
for a few minutes to make tea and would soon rejoin us, I continued 
my walk. But Lieutenant Querini suddenly appeared, and, to my 
amazement, told me that the entire expedition had come back, and 
that he had been sent forward a little in advance of his companions, 
who were coming without their sledges, some of which they had left at 
Cape Germania, and others at Cape Rohlfs. 

Lieutenant's Querini's few words surprised me very much, 
and I set out for Cape Germania with Andreas and Stokken. 
We soon met Hans, who was preceded and followed by dogs. 
On seeing the members of the expedition returning thus one after 
the other, I began to fear still more that something serious had 
occurred, which was being concealed from me ; Captain Cagni 
had expressly arranged to send a man to announce his return 
before any of the dogs could arrive. At Cape Germania we 
found seven sledges with the dogs lying down about them, but, 
though we called repeatedly, we got no answer. Captain Cagni and 
his party had probably passed us by unseen in the dark, and we 
returned without delay to the hut, where, such was our anxiety, we 
arrived running rather than walking. To my great relief, I found 
at the tent Captain Cagni, the doctor, and Captain Evensen, all in 
good health. Captain Cagni had fallen into a channel, and was busy 
getting off his trousers, which had frozen upon him. The others 
were eating with a good appetite, and the sailors were doing the 
same in the adjoining tent. They were all well except Oilier, who 
had a toe frost-bitten. When I heard from Captain Cagni a brief 
account of what had happened, I congratulated him on the decision 
which he had reached, although it had been very painful to him 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 207 

to do so. He had brought back his men in good health, no part 
of the equipment had been lost, and the only consequence would be 
a delay of some days, after which the expedition could start again. 
The three days which the expedition had passed on the ice-pack 

had shown defects in its preparation which required to be avoided 

before setting out again. About twenty days would be requisite to 

have everything in perfect order for this new departure, and better 


prepared than for the first. I therefore agreed with Captain Cagni 
to modify the plan of the expedition in accordance with this delay, 
for I looked upon it as absolutely necessary that all its members 
should be back by May 2oth at the latest. As the departure was to 
take place on March loth, the various detachments could no longer 
begin their return after fifteen, thirty, and forty-five days, as had been 
previously settled, but after twelve, twenty-four, and thirty-six days 

208 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

respectively, so that the entire duration of the expedition would be 
reduced to seventy-two days. The length of the march of the third 
detachment might be increased by two days, which would bring it 
up to thirty-eight days, and Captain Evensen could again accompany 
the train on its two first marches. As Captain Cagni was of opinion 
that it would be advisable to increase the number of the first detach- 
ment by one, in order to give more help during the first marches, 
the number of men forming the expedition was brought up to ten. 
As the engineer, Stokken, had expressed a desire to take part in 
the enterprise, he was chosen for the purpose. As a temporary 
arrangement, which Captain Cagni might vary as he judged fit 
while the expedition was on its way, the first detachment was com- 
posed of the doctor, Stokken, and the two younger guides ; the 
two sailors were placed in the second, and the two other guides in 
the last. 

We should have seen the sun on February 26th, but a light 
breeze from the north-east, which rose during the night and carried 

The Expedition drift snow along with it, darkened the sky. On the 
leaves Teplitz 

Bay - 26th, 2yth, and 28th, the wind set in strongly from 

the north-east, with drift snow, which made it painful to work out 
of doors, and I did not regret that the sledge expedition had come 
back. As the weather became fine again on March ist, the 


sledges which had been left at Cape Rohlfs were brought to the 
hut. It was a bright, clear day, and we were able for the first time 
to greet once more the luminary which we had not seen for so long. 
The beautiful rosy tint which at noon that day was once more shed 
over the surrounding landscape, after so many months of darkness 
and of twilight or moonlight, made us experience an unwonted glad- 
ness. The colours of the sky that day seemed splendid. The sun, 
which was setting in a mist at the horizon, had taken a dark red 

VOL. I. 


Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 211 

tint, and the stretch of sea still unfrozen, which was of a deep blue 
intensified by the surrounding ice and by the dark rocks of Cape 
Saulen, reminded us of the fantastic scenery of the stage. When 
the light returned, the birds (little auks and guillemots) arrived almost 
at the same time to bear us a greeting from inhabited lands. 

During the following days up to March 8th, the provisions 
were once more packed on the sledges. The recent winds had 
formed a lake of open water extending from Cape Saulen to Cape 
Clement Markham. The low temperature of the last few days had 


again frozen this belt, and on the morning of March loth we hoped, 
judging by the thickness of the ice, that we might be able to cross 
it on the following day. 

The expedition, composed of thirteen sledges, which were now 
laden with only 551 Ib. and drawn by 102 dogs, set off on Sunday, 

212 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

March nth ; it was a fine and calm morning with a temperature 
of- 28 C. 

Near Cape Saulen, the expedition left the ice which was fixed to 
the island and crossed over to that, about four and a half inches thick, 
which had been formed on what had been a few days previously a belt 
of open water. Just then there was a slight movement in the ice, 


tending to detach -it from the coast and to form small channels, of 
which only the most recently formed were not frozen. Those which 
had been opened some hours before our departure were already covered 
with a thin crust of ice, which could only be distinguished from that 
which was thicker by its greater whiteness. As the water froze, the 
salt separated from it on the surface, and produced an efflorescence 
which looked pretty, but hindered the progress of the sledges, and 
being very wet under foot, immediately soaked our shoes. 

As the sledges advanced over the ice, they were obliged to change 
their course every minute to avoid the larger channels as well as 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 213 

the belts of thinner ice, which, though it might have borne the dogs, 
could not certainly bear the weight of the sledges. The dogs which 
drew the hindermost sledges tried continually to keep up with the 
leading sledge by the shortest way, and if the men were not able to 
come up in time to turn them aside, they rushed upon the dangerous 
places which the first sledge had avoided. The sledges were twice in 
danger, but owing to the speed at which the dogs dragged them across 
the weakest spots, the ice luckily resisted, though it bent under their 

Captain Cagni was at the head with the sledges which formed 



his detachment ; he was followed by Lieutenant Querini and Dr. 
Cavalli, who came last. We marched thus in file for a distance of about 
twenty yards over ice which was continually moving under our feet. A 
man walked before the dogs of the first sledge ; others walked beside 
the sledges which followed and pushed them on. On reaching the 


the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

old ice, we had to turn to the south-west to find a spot where it would 
be easy to get on it, and I assisted at this first struggle with difficult 
ice. If the whole ice-pack were similar to that we had already crossed, 
it would be an easy matter to reach the Pole, both on account of the 
speed with which the journey could be performed, and because the 
smooth ice would not damage the sledges. On the rugged ice-pack, 
however, two guides armed with ice-axes had to precede us, to level 


the surface where it was most broken up, and we were forced to 
follow a winding path to avoid the places where it was impracticable. 
The sledges were often overturned while crossing those uneven 
stretches of ice, and the men obliged to raise them up, or else the 
runners remained caught among the sharp points of the ice. The 
sledges were, therefore, frequently and easily damaged, and our way was 
lengthened by the continual zig-zags our guides were obliged to make 

Departure of Expedition towards the Pole 215 

in order to find the best places. It was then that I left my companions, 
bidding them good-bye one by one. 

Captain Cagni and I took leave of each other with heartfelt words, 
which expressed our sincere and mutual good wishes of soon meeting 
again after a successful expedition. I felt that this time our parting 
was definite, and that I could not see him again until many weeks had 
elapsed, on his return from the most severe trial he would have to 
undergo in all his life. If it had not been always easy to live together 
in the limited space of the same tent, at that solemn moment no 
memory of slight misunderstandings ruffled the tranquillity of our 
minds, or rendered the last clasp of our hands less affectionate. 

The sledges then went on ; the doctor was the last to salute me, 
and the convoy disappeared among the tall hummocks. Gini and 
I climbed a mound of ice to see the convoy once more as it proceeded 
on its way. Just now it was they who had saluted us ; this time we 
saluted them, and from far away the cry of " Evviva," three times 
repeated, replied to our cheer. It was the last farewell. We lost 
sight of the convoy shortly after. 


Long and Painful Expectation of the Return of 
the First Detachment 



OUR return to the hut was very sad, as it had been some 
days previously. My mind was troubled by the same 
thoughts, the same discomfort of being separated from my com- 
panions, and anxiety with regard to the hardships which T]ie Reason for 
awaited them. As I was absent-mindedly walking, I did my 
not perceive a recently formed channel ; the ice broke, and I fell 
into the water. My boots, trousers, and jacket immediately became 
stiff, and on reaching the tent I had to be helped to take off my 
frozen clothes, which had begun to thaw in the warmth, and were 
drenching me. Some hours later, about two in the afternoon, the 
others came back. 

Our daily life was thenceforth filled by a single thought the 
return of our comrades ; and as a record of this time I think 
it will be well to repeat here what I wrote in my diary, and also 
mention the observations which were then taken, so as to give an exact 
idea of the state of the atmosphere and of the ice in the neigh- 
bourhood of the island, as well as of our ideas and of the measures 
which we took at that period. 

March I2f/i. A calm day without wind ; temperature 22 C. 
The ice-pack is moving slightly near the island ; it tends .to recede 
from the land and to form small channels here and there. On 

220 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

returning to the hut we see a large bear, which, as it is not 
disturbed by the dogs, comes close to our dwelling. Andreas and 
Christian get near and kill it. A screen is put up at the south 
side of our instruments to keep them in the shade. I develop 
the negatives taken when the expedition left ; they are the first 
instantaneous photographs taken this season. 

March i^th. We still have the same calm weather and clear 
sky of the previous days. A coloured halo is seen round the 
sun for the first time. In the morning, only the lower half is 
visible, but in the course of the day the sides rise till they meet 
above. The halo showed only a single circle, and two mock suns 
were faintly visible on a line with its horizontal diameter. 

I visit Cape Germania and Cape Saulen with Andreas, and 
ascertain that it is impossible to reckon on being able to see 
to a great distance. When the weather is clear, and the sun is 
shining, the shadows cast by the hummocks form dark spots, which 
cannot be distinguished from a train of sledges. The ice continues 
to move slightly, with a tendency to open out, but sledges could 
still travel over it. We return to the hut without having sighted 
the sledge of the auxiliary detachment, and are therefore much 
surprised when Captain Evensen returns that evening at six. He 
informs us that the expedition is progressing safely ; that the dogs 
are going on very well ; that the sledges are not breaking down ; 
that the cold is not felt too much ; and that the daily marches, 
although impeded by many pressure-ridges, have been fairly good. 

March 14/77. It is the birthday of His Majesty the King. 
I should have preferred to celebrate it with all my comrades ; as it 
The King of is> I am the only Italian in my tent, and Gini the only 

Italy's Birthday. 

Italian in the sailors' tent. We can all, at least, however, 
celebrate the feast in our hearts if not outwardly. The Norwegians 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 221 

join us, for they always take part in our feasts, as we take part in 
theirs. In the evening the temperature again falls to 37 C. ; 
and at night sounds of ice-pressure are heard near Cape Saulen. The 
weather is still clear and perfectly calm. 

March i^th. The cold continues, and at night reaches 39 C. 
The ice-pack again comes gradually nearer to the island, breaking 

and raising up the freshly formed ice. The moon shows a halo > 
with a fine cross in the centre. 

March i6///. Still the same weather fine, calm, and cold. 
The tide-gauge, which had been set up on the beach during summer, 
can no longer be used, as it is now covered by ice. 1 place another 
gauge on the edge of the fixed ice, on the line which separates the 
fixed from the floating ice. A sight put up in the neighbourhood 
enables me to make sure that the pole remains steady. Observations 

222 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

are taken every hour by each of us in turn, beginning on the 
following day. 1 

March ijt/i. A fine, calm day like the preceding, with a 
cloudless horizon. The sun sets at six, and from the summit of 
Cape Saulen no land can be made out towards the west, though, if 
there were any, this would be the most favourable moment for seeing 
it. The sailors begin to set the deck of the ship in order by clearing 
away the snow which had been piled up there. 

A creaking sound has been heard all day along the line 
which separates the fixed ice from the movable ice, caused by the 
equinoctial tides. 

March i8//z. The continuation of fine weather up to to- 
day must have allowed the expedition to advance, and the pres- 
About the Tem- sures coming from the west show that the ice-pack 

perature when 

there is wind, has either remained steady or has had a slight movement 
towards the east. To-day, there is a fresh easterly wind with much 
snowdrift. When the wind sets in steadily, the temperature rises 
several degrees. What makes the temperature rise ? 

The open water which must certainly exist to the west of White 
Land when the east wind blows, may have a share in raising the 
temperature. So might have all the winds from an easterly direction, 
which, before reaching us, pass over land and, consequently, over 
belts of open water. The temperature, therefore, ought not to rise 
when the wind blows from a westerly direction. But, on the contrary, 
we have always observed that it does during these winds. 

If the phenomenon occurred only along the land, and not in 
the Arctic Sea, it might be easily explained. During the Polar 
night the earth is the sole source of heat. As there is no radiation 

1 See Scientific Observations, Part I., Chapter III., " Tidal Observations," a report 
by Lieutenant Alberto Alessio. 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 223 

through the ice, the air which rests on the earth on calm days must 
take the temperature of the ice little by little, and become exceed- 
ingly cold. When a wind sets in from the surrounding ice-belts, 
the cold air lying over the land becomes mingled with that which 
lies on the ice-fields, which ought to have a higher temperature 
on account of the open channels, and because the ice is thin in 
many places. The expeditions which have passed a winter on the 


ice have also observed the same fact ; and, contrary to what might 
have been expected, we, too, have found the temperature on the 
ice-pack colder than that on Prince Rudolph Island. The sea, 
therefore, is not the principal cause of this increase of temperature. 
It is only by many further observations that we can learn to what 
it may be attributed. 

It is difficult to take observations with the tide-gauge, as the 
well in which the pole stands is filled by a large quantity of snow 

224 O n the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

driven by the wind. Each time that we examine it, it requires 
about ten minutes to clear this away. 

March \ yth. It was impossible to observe the tide-gauge last 
night ; the wind was so high and the drift so thick that a lantern 
could not be carried to show the way. The porch of the tent was 
again filled with snow during the night, and in the morning we 
had to work hard to get out. The wind is still blowing at nine, 
but the drift has ceased. The temperature has risen to 22 C., 
where it stays. We stretch a rope from the hut to the tide-gauge, 
to guide us in any state of the weather, and allow us to take obser- 
vations without interruption. The officers' saloon on board, which 
was always so well kept, has now from sheer necessity been changed 
into a sort of tannery. Christian has established himself there with 
our bearskins to rid of fat and get ready for tanning. 

March loth. The wind is blowing intermittently, the drift is 
sometimes light, and sometimes so thick that we can see nothing 
around us. 

March list. The day is calm, not cold there is no wind; the 
temperature is 24 C. A large channel, caused by the wind of these 
last two days, can be seen extending from Cape Saulen to Cape Clement 
Markham. The crew begin once more to clear the snow from the 
ship. The anemometer and the anemoscope, which had been left on 
board during winter, are set up on a little scaffolding placed on the 
top of the second tent. 

March 12nd. Another fine day without wind. Although the 
temperature is 26 C., I begin to feel for the first time the warmth 
of the sun, which until now had only given us light. Fresh ice is 
being formed on what was yesterday open water. Several little 
auks and guillemots are to be seen near Cape Saulen. The snow 
is thawing for the first time along the side of the tent which is 

f vm 



Expectation of Return of First Detachment 225 

exposed to the sun, and trickles down into the interior of our 
second tent. 

March iyd and i^th. The sky is clear, and the barometer does 
not move ; the wind is blowing in slight gusts from every point of 
the compass. The afternoon of the 24th is calm. It is still bright 
at ten o'clock at night. In a few days we shall again have daylight 
for twenty-four hours. 

March 2 $l/i. According to the plan agreed upon with Captain 
Cagni, the first detachment should return to-day. This evening, in 
our cabin, we discuss the question of what latitude it may have 
reached. If the weather on the ice-pack was like what we had in 
Teplitz Bay, its march must have been stopped, at most, on the i8th 
or the 1 9th. We may, therefore, suppose that, if the ice did not 
present too many obstacles, the detachment must have made good 

With the return of calm weather and a clear sky, the temperature 
falls again to 30 C. Light breezes blow from the north. The ice- 
pack has once more moved up the coast. These movements of the 
ice, towards the east in the early days of the month up to the i8th, 
towards the west on the i8th and I9th, and now again to the 
east, have probably not made the first detachment deviate much in 
longitude. We go to bed at a later hour, as we take advantage of the 
fine evenings to remain out of doors chatting together, though the 
temperature is still between 25 C. and 30 C. 

March 26th and 2yM. Calm weather and bright sky. The 
atmosphere is clear, and the ice-pack close up against the coast. 
The instructions for those who are to wait at Cape 

On the look-out 

Fligely for the return of the various detachments are at Cape ^s 1 ^ 
now changed. It was agreed between us that the group of helpers 
is not to be at Cape Fligely on the twenty-fifth, fifty-fifth, and 
VOL. i. 15 

226 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

eighty-fifth day after the departure of the expedition from Teplitz 
Bay, but on the twentieth, the forty-fourth, and the sixty-eighth. I 
therefore decide on going to Cape Fligely to-morrow with a boat. 

March i%th. The sledge on which the boat has been fixed with 
clamps made by the carpenter, is a strange and particularly heavy load 
for the seven dogs left behind with us four females, and three 
of the more stubborn males. We leave at eight in the morning 
for Cape Germania, whence, instead of going down directly towards 
Cape Rohlfs, as I had done the -first time that I went to Cape Fligely, 
I go on along the upper part of the island. The weather is fine ; there 
is no wind ; the temperature is very low (32 C.). We do not, how- 
ever, feel cold while walking, and what is still more strange, though 
the sun is right in front and low down, it does not hurt our eyes. 
After sending back, about eleven o'clock, the men who helped us, I go 
on towards the north, with Andreas and Hans. From the summit of 
the island, about 1,141 feet above the level of the sea, the immense 
plain of closely packed ice which surrounds us can be seen. Nothing 
could be more favourable for the return of our companions, and I 
say, jestingly, that our excursion is useless, since the first detachment 
will arrive at the hut in the course of the day, or to-morrow. After 
a short rest, we go on about twelve o'clock towards Cape Fligely, 
which we reach after eight hours' march. We stop here, intending to 
look out next day for the best place to put up the signal agreed on. 
In the evening the temperature falls to 36 C. 

March ityh. There is no wind, and it is cold. The weather is 
splendid, and the ice-pack is close up to the coast. I have slept for 
the first time in a sleeping-bag of reindeer-skin, with the temperature 
at 34 C. I can bear the cold, but I am still more convinced that I 
did well not to take part in a long expedition in my present state. As 
I can only use one hand, I require to be helped by my companions to 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 227 

get into the sleeping-bag, to put on my shoes, and to dress. Althojugh 
my hand is bandaged and covered with two gloves, wrapped in. a 
sling lined with down, which is covered by another sling of rein- 
deer-skin, I suffer continually from cold, and am obliged to warm 
my hand over the lamp. 


The sledge, the boat, and tent are brought a little to the east of 
Cape Fligely, to the top of a ridge covered with snow, at a height 
of about 293 feet above the level of the sea, whence there is a 
view which extends from east to nearly due west. As the detach- 
ment will come from the west, and the coast from Cape Fligely 

228 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to Cape Germania trends nearly towards the west, they will probably 
touch land first at Cape Saulen, or at Cape Germania where we are 
also watching for them continually. We carry the boat close to the 
little promontory and leave it at the foot of the rock. 

We then get ready a dwelling-place, so as to be able to stay on 
that cape exposed to every wind. Thinking at first of the grotto for 
the dogs, hollowed out of the snow during winter, we try to make 
something of the same sort ; but we cannot find snow sufficiently 
deep, whilst to dig into the ice to form a similar shelter would demand 
too much time. At the spot where we have set up our tent, the snow 
has been drifted by the wind to a depth of one foot. W"e excavate 
in this snow, space large enough to hold the diameter of the tent, 
and we work into the ice so that the tent may be half buried. We 
then build a wall round it with large blocks of snow, on which we 
lay the sledge and the spare oars of the boat, and cover them with 
snow. We thus put up a hut like those (3f the Esquimaux, but 
this difference ; they place the blocks of snow in a circle, and 
make each course project beyond the lower one, till they meet at the 
top, while we make use of the sledge and the oars to support the 
roof of our hut. The hut is finished on March 3Oth, and the door is 
made to look to the north, so as to be completely sheltered from 
any wind. Inside this house of snow we place the tent, which will 
prevent the water from trickling down upon us from the walls. Near 
the house is placed the pole on which the ball is to be hoisted ; it 
will stand out distinctly against the glacier. The weather is still fine 
and calm, the ice-pack close up to the coast, and the temperature 
varies between 25 C. and 36 C. 

March ^\st. The weather is like that of the preceding days. 
Nansen Islands are again seen faintly in the distance. At night there 
is wind and drift from the south. 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 229 

il i st. The bad weather continues, the wind blows from the 
south and then from the west, and there is a fall of snow. As the 
temperature at night rises to ij C. in our hut, we find ourselves 

The wall of snow enables us to have a higher temperature than 
if we had the tent only, and at our meals, when the cooking-stove is 
lighted, we can take off our gloves. The dogs- come at night to lie 


in the porch at the door, to seek shelter from the drift, and make so 
much noise that we have more than once to send them away. The 
driven snow penetrates into the tent, and in the morning we can hardly 
leave it. The wind has formed a channel about 200 yards wide. 
Towards evening the mist increases, and we cannot see farther than 
a mile. The comrades we expect have most certainly been unable 
to stir. 

April 2nd. The wind still continues, and in the evening, after a 
few hours, shifts to the south-west. To-day, however, is finer than 

230 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

yesterday. We carefully examine the edge of the ice-pack, without 
perceiving any trace of the first detachment. The ice-pack near the 
island does not stir, but only the smaller ice-floes formed in the channel. 
Strange to say, the temperature rises during the day to 5 C. While 
walking near the level summit of the cape, Hans sinks into a den 
inhabited by a she-bear. The den is hollowed out of the snow and 
communicates with the exterior only by a small opening, through which 
Hans, taking up a good position, fires, and kills the beast. We then 
come up, and enlarging the opening of the den, drag out the bear, 
and two little cubs, hardly larger than cats, which are immediately killed 
by striking them on the head with an axe. 

April yd. The wind blows steadily from west -north -west, with 
a drift which shuts out everything. As we cannot leave the hut, since 
there is nothing to see we pass nearly all day in the sleeping-bag. It 
is impossible to stay still in the hut outside the sleeping-bag ; our 
hands and feet are frozen. We are obliged, therefore, in this delightful 
place either to keep moving or to shut ourselves up in our sleeping- 
bag. Towards evening it clears up for a moment and the wind falls; 
we then see that the ice-pack has again come up to the coast, at which 
I am much pleased. 

April <\.th. The wind continues to blow from west-north-west. 
The evening is calm. The ice to the north of the island touches the 

April $th. This is the last day for which the first detachment 
has provisions. They must certainly have economised their rations 
we feel uneasy during these last few days when they must have been 

about the First 

Detachment. unable to advance. I feel most uneasy with regard 
to the petroleum. It is true that they were provided with a 
large quantity, but it may have been all consumed, and in that case, 
although they might still have provisions, they would find themselves 


>:-%;' v -\f - .^**'..- 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 233 

in a difficult situation. I cannot understand how the detachment 
should not have been able to reach the island during the fine days 
we had up to April ist ; it is true that on the ist, and on part of the 
3rd and 4th, it could not have made long marches. 

As the day is very clear, we distinctly see Nansen Islands towards 
the east. This transparency of the atmosphere gives me hope that 
even though the first detachment might be still far away from the 
island, it would perceive and be able to reach it. 


The sky becomes cloudy again towards evening, and a light wind 
sets in from the south, which opens out another channel, from 200 to 
300 yards wide, along the northern coast of the island. There is a fall 
of snow in the evening. 

April 6th. The morning and evening are moderately fine, with 
a light wind from the north-west, and snow in the afternoon. Towards 
Cape Rohlfs the ice is closely pressed against the coast. Ice is being 
formed in the channel along the island, and though we watch the ice- 
pack next the coast for several hours continuously, we can detect only 

234 O n th e Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

a very slight movement. No birds are to be seen. We search in vain 
with the telescope. As the channel is only 500 yards wide, we could 
certainly see our friends if there. We give the flesh of the bear we 
killed to our dogs, which relish it very much. We had thought of 
cooking the cubs, but as neither of us is a good cook, we must 
deprive ourselves of this dish, and continue to make our usual soup, 
into which we put all the food-stuffs we have, which, with our good 
appetite, we always find excellent. Hans makes lamps with bears' fat, 
which we light in the evening ; they warm our hut a little, but they 
' fill it dreadfully with smoke. 

April Jt/i. A fine day with light breezes from the north-west 
and north-east. Nothing can be seen on the horizon. I begin to feel 
anxious about the first detachment. Although the doctor is well 
accustomed to take observations and make calculations, it is the first 
time that he has to make land, and this under difficult conditions, 
which might embarrass and make it hard for him to ascertain his 
position if he has gone far away from the island. The illness of one 
of the party may have retarded the march and thereby caused delay, 
but surely for fourteen days they must have been on their way. 
Andreas remarks that Captain Cagni may perhaps have made some 
change in his plans, and have kept the first detachment some days 
longer with him. I do not think that such a change is probable, and 
I feel certain that if he has varied his plans, it has been by sending 
the detachment back a few days sooner rather than later. 

As this evening we have provisions remaining for only two more 
days, I decide on returning to the hut to-morrow morning, -and on 
sending Captain Evensen and Ole on Monday to take the place 
of Hans. 

April 8//2. It is a fine bright day, rather cold, with light breezes 
from the south-east. I leave the tent with Andreas at seven 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 235 

o'clock, and walking quickly along the coast, we reach the hut at mid- 
day. A part of the ice-pack touches the island, and in many places it 
is possible to pass from it on to the shore. We find everybody at the 
hut very uneasy, and the news they can give us is not more comforting 
than ours. The ice-pack remained touching the coast from Cape 
Saulen to Cape Rohlfs until April ist; it went away from it on the 
2nd and part of the 3rd. It was again and almost always in contact 
with the coast on the 4th, 5th, 6th, yth, and 8th, and on the 3rd, 4th, 
and 5th there had been considerable pressure. 


April 9//z. The weather is alternately cloudy and bright, with 
snow from time to time, but no wind. The temperature has risen 
to 12 C., with light breezes from the south. The ice is up 


to the coast on the south side of the island, but with this wind 

236 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

there must certainly be a small channel on the north side. I see 
a stormy petrel for the first time. Besides our dogs, we have at the 
hut two little bear cubs, which were also found in a den near Cape 
Germania. They are bigger than those killed at Cape Fligely, and 
we keep them alive for some days in the carpenter's hut, but they 
make such a noise that we are obliged to kill them. 

April io//z. I feel still more anxious about the first detachment. 
I now fear that not only it is lost, but that some misfortune has 
happened to the whole expedition. The first high wind a few days 
after their departure may have caused some mishap ; or does the 
delay of the first detachment mean that the whole expedition is 
coming back together ? 

John is suffering from a swollen face. My medical knowledge 
can give him no relief, though the doctor, before leaving, handed over 
to me not only all his drugs, but also books and instructions in case 
of necessity. At night the snow fell in large flakes, and as there 
is no wind, there is a layer of four inches in the morning. In the 
evening the wind shifts to the west, and at night the temperature fell 
from 12 C., as it was in the morning, to 34 C. At six o'clock 
Hans returns to the hut. 

April \\th. A fine, clear day, with a temperature below 
20 C., and light winds from the north-west and north. I am glad 
of this change of weather, and that the wind has gone back to the 
north, as it will delay the melting of the snow, and drive the ice-pack 
to the south, which will help the return of the first two detachments. 
The ice-pack is now in contact with the island. 

April iith. The men are resting, and they will do the same 
to-morrow, which will be Good Friday. The day is cloudy, with 
southerly and south-westerly winds. A narrow channel is formed 
along the coast. The high temperature of the last few days 

Expectation of Return of First Detachment 237 

has softened the snow, and in walking, one sinks in it up to 
the ankle. 

April i3//z. Cloudy weather, with light breezes from the south 
and south-west. A little sleet and a little drift snow. The tempera- 
ture rises again to 4 C. Is this the beginning of summer ? To 
the west and north of Cape Saulen the ice-pack is in motion ; a 
channel is being formed along the coast. 

April i4//z and \^th. There are still light winds from the south 
and south-west ; the sky is cloudy. The temperature varies from 
-I3C. to 4 C. The snow becomes soft with this rise of tem- 
perature, and one sinks still more deeply in. The stormy petrels 
are seen in greater numbers, and, for the first time, I see the snow 
on the windlass of the ship trickling in the sunshine. Water is 
trickling down everywhere in the interior of our hut. We pass Easter 
Sunday very sadly. 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 



/fPRIL. i6//z. A cloudy day, with snow and south-easterly wind. 
The temperature rises to 8 C. Captain Evensen returns 
from Cape Fligely in the evening, as I had told him to do. The 
south-easterly winds of these last days have opened a unexpected 

Return of the 

channel which extends from Cape Clement Markham second Detach- 
ment with Dr. 

in the south as far as Cape Fligely. cavaiii. 

April ijt/i. -Light winds from the north. The fog is so thick 
in the evening that we cannot see the ship from the hut. Water is 

O 1 

beginning to flow in the tents and on the boxes of provisions stacked 
in the passage ; they are,' therefore, taken away and put in a dry place 
on level ground. I see an ivory gull for the first time. 

April i8M. At six o'clock in the morning I hear John call out 
several times : " Cardenti has come back." While dressing hastily in 
my anxiety to question him, I also hear the names of Dr. Cavalli and 
Savoie. Our anxiety is ended at last. The first detachment has 
returned. But why is Cardenti with it, and how did Cavalli get a 
kayak ? Did the second detachment give him one ? Have the two 
detachments come back together ? I hasten out of the tent before I 
am quite dressed, and before greeting Cardenti, -I ask him : " Of what 
detachment are you ? " " The second," he answers ; " the first, con- 
sisting of Lieutenant Querini, Stokken, and Oilier, left Commander 
Cagni on March 23rd, and we left him on the Jist." 

VOL. i. * 4 ' 1 6 

242 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Alas ! my soul had for a moment entertained some hope, but these 
few words fill it again with grief. I then read a note from the doctor. 
He writes on the iyth that is to .say, yesterday that on the ifth 
(Easter Sunday) he was near Cape Saulen, but was unable to get up on 
the island, and that he had dispatched Cardenti with the kayak, to ask 
me to send a boat for him. We dig a canvas boat from out of the 
snow; it is in excellent condition, though it has lain without shelter 
all the winter. We put it on a sledge, harness the seven dogs we 
have at the hut to it, and all leave immediately for Cape Germania. 
The ice-pack has receded about 300 or 400 yards ; its edge is very 
much broken up. It is moving slightly towards the east, so that the 
doctor must have been carried towards Cape Rohlfs. His camp is 
hidden by the hummocks, and we cannot see it from the glacier. An 
hour goes by. We feel anxious till at last we see one, and then two, 
persons moving about on the ice. It is they, and they, too, have 
seen us. Captain Evensen and Christian leave at once in the boat 
to meet them. 

Meanwhile, 1 make Cardenti tell me how he passed the night. 
He had been sent off while the ice-pack was still near the land, 
and had steered his kayak towards the island, with the intention of 
getting up on the glacier, which ends there in an ice-cliff from three 
to four yards high. Wishing to take advantage of a crevasse which 
opened out on the sea, he left his kayak and tried to creep up it, 
but the current carried away the kayak, and when he found himself 
in the crevasse and uncertain of being able to climb it, he was 
obliged to work for fully two hours, cutting his way through the ice 
with his axe. 

He then went towards the bay, but as he could not find in what 
direction this was, he turned towards the highest part of the island. 
Next morning he saw in the distance the masts of the ship, and reached 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 243 

the hut after being all night on foot. It was only a man of his great 
strength who could have withstood such fatigue. 

After the short interval necessary for packing up the tent, we see 
the boat on its way back with three persons, eight dogs, and a part 
of the equipment. On reaching the shore, we greet it with three 


cheers, which are repeated as we clasp the hand of our excellent doctor, 
whom we all love, and hail with joy after thinking that he was lost. 
A second boatload brings over Savoie and the remainder of the equip- 
ment, and we are back at the hut by eight o'clock. Cavalli, Cardenti, 
and Savoie, although very slightly thinner, are in excellent health. So 
are the fifteen dogs which they have brought back. There is rejoicing 

244 O n the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

in our hut. After so many anxious days, it makes me feel a momen- 
tary gladness to welcome back one of the detachments. The doctor's 
return dispels, at least, the gloomy thought which had distressed me 
more and more these last few days, that the entire expedition had met 
with some disaster. But I am still more convinced that Querini's 
detachment must have met with some serious mishap. 

I pass the evening with the doctor, in a long conversation about 
Cagni and Querini. The doctor had left the former in excellent health 
ca*^ from 1 an on t ^ le mornm g or " March 3ist, proceeding towards 
LaSSSe? the north with forty-eight dogs and six sledges. On 

taking leave of the doctor, Cagni had given him the following 
note for me : 

" The cold still continues, and it is no slight hindrance to us ; it 
appears, moreover, that during these last days the ice-pack has drifted 
towards the south, and that we are in a very low latitude. For three 
days, however, we have found the way easier : there are wide, level 
tracts, and only few pressure-ridges, which are easily crossed. I do 
not, therefore, despair of doing something. I shall advance for twenty 
days longer, and, if necessary, for a couple of days more, should the 
\ success of the expedition depend on it. The doctor will explain to 
you the reasons why I go on with four men and six sledges. I think 
that I shall advance thus more rapidly. I again repeat to your Royal 
Highness that I shall do everything that lies in my power and as much 
as my strength will permit, without wilfully endangering the lives of 
L my men. The health of all of us is excellent." 

In his advance towards the north, Cagni had made some changes 
in the programme of the expedition, according to which the first 
detachment, consisting of four men, was to turn back fourteen days 
after their departure from Teplitz Bay that is to say, on the morning 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 24.5 

of March 25th and the second detachment of three men, twenty-six 
days after their departure that is, on the morning of April 6th. 
Instead of this, the first detachment, consisting of Querini, Stokken, 
and Oilier, was sent back on the morning of March 23rd with pro- 


visions for ten days ; and the second detachment, consisting of Cavalli, 
Cardenti, and Savoie, on the morning of March 3ist, with twenty-four 
dogs and food for eighteen days. I shall not dwell here on the reasons 
for these changes, which Captain Cagni explains in his report. I merely 
repeat that at the time of their departure the organisation of the 

246 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

detachments was purely provisional. It was left to Captain Cagni to 
give them their definitive formation, and to send back any one of the 
members of the expedition before the others, according to the general 
ideas laid down in the first chapter of this book that is to say, that, 
as he advanced towards the north, he should select those who showed 
most endurance and seemed most capable. 

I had left the hut to stay at Cape Fligely on March 28th, 
eighteen days after the departure of the expedition from Teplitz Bay, 
r.s had been settled. Lieutenant Querini should have reached the 
island ten days at most after leaving Cagni that is to say, on April 2nd 
at the latest. He and his two companions had left the expedition 
about forty-five miles from Prince Rudolph Island, which was still 
visible to the south, two days before they turned back ; and the fine 
weather from March 25th to 3ist ought to have assisted their return. 

The second detachment had sighted Prince Rudolph Island to the 
south on April 8th that is to say, twenty-nine days after leaving 
Teplitz Bay. The fact that Dr. Cavalli was on the meridian of the 
island shows that during that time and in that neighbourhood the 
position of the ice-pack had not shifted much. While returning to 
the hut from the highest latitude he had reached, the doctor had 
travelled eighty-nine miles in sixteen days, a daily average of over five 
miles, and there is no reason to suppose that Querini did not do 
as much. 

If it was discouraging to find that the first latitudes of which 
observations were taken did not correspond to our expectations, I 
feel convinced that it was due partly to a movement of the ice in the 
contrary direction, and partly because at the outset the daily marches 
may have been a little exaggerated. As the march was directed 
towards the north-north-east, and the ice-pack moves more easily in 
those parts from east to west, it is more probable that this movement 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 247 

was towards the south-west, which would retard the progress of the 
expedition towards the north, and keep it on the meridian of Teplitz 
Bay. The first observations of the island taken by the doctor 
confirm this supposition. Querini must therefore have been carried 
towards the south-west. Supposing, moreover, that the illness of one 
of the party may have delayed their march, and that the bad weather 
and the south-easterly and south-westerly winds which prevailed after 
April 1 2th may have stopped the drift of the ice-pack to the south 


and driven it to the east, the first detachment can, at most, have been 
carried to the meridian of the Nansen Islands. 

Calculating, therefore, from the distance covered by the expe- 
dition, the information collected by Dr. Cavalli, and the observations 
made in the neighbourhood of the island, it is very difficult to come 
to a conclusion as to what might be the best direction in which to 
send a search expedition. It seems to me useless to send one to the 
south, for if they went in that direction and have not yet reached 
us, they must have been carried very far, and they will go on to 

248 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Cape Flora. It is useless also to seek towards the west and the 
north, where the ice-pack is much broken up and always in 
motion, and where the horizon is very much circumscribed. 
There only remains White Land, towards which it is possible that 
they may have been carried, or to which they may have gone, 
mistaking it for Prince Rudolph Island, and from which they have not 
since stirred. The supposition does not seem probable, but as it is 
the only one on which I can act, I decide on sending an expedition 
towards that island, and give the command to Andreas. Dr. 
Cavalli, Cardenti, and Savoie express a desire to form part of it, but 
it seems to me that after their fatigues they require absolute rest. 

On April I9th, 2oth, and 2ist the ice generally remained close 
to the island, the weather was fine and calm, and the temperature 
varied between 15 C. and 29 C. The calm weather and the 
cold have caused the open water near Cape Saulen to freeze, and 
the birds have disappeared from that locality. On the morning of 
the 22nd, Andreas, accompanied by Hans and Ole, sets out with 
two sledges, sixteen dogs, food for twenty-six days, and a folding 
canvas boat (that which brought back the doctor), to enable him to 
cross the canals more speedily. I have instructed him to march 
towards Nansen Islands for twelve days, but if by that time he has 
not reached them, or is still far away from them, he is to come back. 

Towards evening I go with Cavalli to Cape Saulen. Owing to 
the calm weather of the last few days, and the light breezes from the 
west, the ice-pack is again in contact with the coast. To- the south of 
Cape Saulen can be seen a pressure-ridge, which is certainly from seven 
to eight yards high. I can clearly see how impossible it is to travel 
with sledges over such ice. In a recently formed pressure-ridge the 
blocks of ice, which are piled up one over the other, and rise almost 
vertically from the surrounding ice, present such sharp points and 


Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 251 

projections that a man finds it difficult to cross them, and a sledge 
requires to be lifted over. The sun is already so high that when 
we return to the tent it warms us, and allows us to remain outside 
for more than half an hour, though the temperature is 22 C. 


End of the 
Intense Cold. 

April 2yd to 26//;. The ice is still in contact with the 
coast. The warmth of the sun causes some difference 
to be felt between day and night. The wind blows 
from various points ; it is sometimes strong, sometimes light. 

We begin to get our tent ready for summer. It is deeply buried 

252 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

in the snow, and, unless removed, when the thaw comes the water 
will fall into it as into a well. The snow must, therefore, be 
cleared away from the ground which lies at a lower level than the 
tent, so as to allow the water to run past it and flow away. Near 
the door the snow has been heaped up to a height of three or four 
yards, and will require much work to remove. On the evening of 
the 25th a solar halo is visible. These atmospheric phenomena have 
never been strongly marked or completely formed. 

The cold has been gradually diminishing during these last few 
days, and the end of winter seems to be drawing near. On April 26th 
the temperature at night was 35 C., and since then it has risen slowly. 

On the 2yth light easterly winds drive the ice-pack away from 
the island. On the 29th a stiff breeze sets in from the south-east, 
which at night increases to a -storm, and reaches more than forty- 
five miles an hour. On the morning of the 3Oth it shifts to the 
north-east, and has still the velocity of a hurricane. The drift is 
again so thick that we cannot stay outside the tent, and the weather 
continues thus without interruption until May ist. It is terrible 
weather for the search expedition, for, as it is in the neighbourhood 
of the island, it must have been exposed to the same storm. Wide 
belts of open water are being formed to the west and south-west. 
The snow has been hardened by the wind, and is in good condition 
for walking on. On account of the open water to the west of the 
island, the temperature rises to 9 C. on the evening of May 2nd, 
and on coming out of the tent one experiences a real sensation 
of warmth. 

Changeable weather with south-westerly and north-westerly winds 
drive the ice-pack once more against the coast, and keep it there 
until May 9th. The temperature rises gradually, and fine weather 
and the absence of wind soften the snow. 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 255 

The snow had been nearly all cleared away from before our tent ; 
but the last storm brought more, so that our work has been of 
no use. I could never have believed that the snowdrift could cause 
so much annoyance. Ever since last September until now, the 
slightest breeze has always raised the snow ; and this, lifted 
up and carried by the wind, has penetrated everywhere, and 
covered up everything lying outside the tent. The wind and the 
drift overwhelm in a short time what has cost us hours and days of 
toil. We are now lifting the boxes of provisions out of the snow, 


where they lay buried, and carrying them up to a high rock, where 
they will be kept dry. The sunshine is so bright that we are obliged 
to wear spectacles. 

May tyh. The thermometer rises for the first time to 1 C. 
On board our ship, the snow lying on the windlass and on everything 
painted black is thawing. The wind sets in from the north-east ; it 

256 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

lasts all day, accompanied as usual by snowdrift, and makes a new 
channel to the west. Yesterday we put our instruments back into the 
meteorologic cage to protect them from the influence of the sun, and 
they now suffer from the same drawbacks as before. 

The wind goes down on the evening of May loth. It has done 
more to harden the snow than the temperature. Andreas, Hans, and 
i give up ail Ole return at half-past seven in the evening. We are 

further Attempt 

to seek for the glad to see them again, but grieve to learn that they have 

First Detach- ' 

found no trace of our companions. The mate has carried 
out my orders, and has come back on the twelfth day, after 
marching for eight days over ice which was very much broken, and 
having been hindered from advancing for four days by the stormy 
weather at the end of April and the beginning of May. They had 
covered about two-thirds of the distance to Nansen Islands, and 
had gone nearly as far as a belt of open water which the last tempest 
had formed to the west of these islands. 

Twelve days of actual marching might have brought the expedi- 
tion to the islands, and five or six days more should have been spent in 
exploring them ; on the whole, the expedition would have required 
about a month. I had added to the sledges a folding canvas boat, 
which is more convenient than a kayak for crossing narrow channels, 
but as the season was advanced, I ought to have left it aside, and 
given the expedition a larger amount of provisions. The Joss of 
three men rendered me perhaps too cautious, and unwilling to risk 
others. On the other hand, I felt more and more convinced that men 
who were short of provisions, and who knew that they were in the 
neighbourhood of the hur, could have easily reached Teplitz Bay from 
Nansen Islands in eight or ten days ; and that if our unfortunate com- 
panions had not come back, it was not because they had gone to those 
islands. I therefore gave up making any further attempt to search for 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 257 

the missing detachment. It was not in our neighbourhood, or it would 
have reached the hut ; if it were far away on the ice-pack, we could do 
nothing to help it ; if it were more to the south, it must already have 
gone on towards Cape Flora. 

May nth to i8//z. The ice-pack is very much broken up. 
Channels appear everywhere near the island. The ice-fields are not of 
great extent 300 or 400 yards at most. The channels -me Look-out at 
between them are full of lumps of ice and half-melted Tneice-Pack 

near the Island 

snow, so that it is impossible to make use of a boat, is in a Bad state, 
and very difficult to cross with sledges. The ice-pack is continually 
moving ; the westerly winds drive it against the island, and the 


easterly winds drive it away. The weather is almost always 
cloudy ; it makes me feel uneasy for Captain Cagni, who will find it 
difficult to take observations and to sight the island. The snow is, 
however, still good for walking on, especially after a windy day. 
VOL, i. 17 

258 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

To the left of the ship some water has trickled down between 
the side and the ice, and formed a small pool. To the right, the 
snow is being cleared away down to the level of the water. The 
doctor sees for the first time an Arctic sparrow (Passero polari]. 

May iyth. Dr. Cavalli, Andreas, and Cardenti set out for Cape 
Fligely, with provisions for ten days, to look out for Cagni's return. 
From Cape Germania I examine the surroundings every day with a 
telescope. Light westerly winds bring the ice-pack close to the island 
again. The sky is still cloudy and there are often fogs. The sun is 
seldom visible. 

May 22nd. This evening we kill four bears, an entire family 
a he-bear, she-bear, and two large cubs. After killing the she-bear 
and the cubs, we had gone away, leaving Gini (the cook) and two 
sailors to guard our quarry, when the he-bear came up unexpectedly. 
The cook only was armed, and his companions prudently withdrew, 
but Gini luckily killed the bear with a single shot. 

On the evening of the 22nd, a wind set in from the east 
which lasted till the morning of the 25th, and formed a stretch of 
open water along the coast extending to seven or eight miles from 

May 26th. According to Captain Cagni's letter, he ought to be 
already on his way back, for thirty-seven days have passed. He has 
still provisions for three days, but afterwards must subsist, until 
June loth, on what he may have been able to economise. During 
these last few days the sky has been always overcast, and this, with the 
mistiness of the horizon, would have prevented him from seeing the 
island and even from taking observations. If he is to the west of 
the island, he cannot, under present circumstances, reach the hut. It 
would be necessary to send a launch along the edge of the ice-pack to 
look for him. But is that possible, for the sea will certainly freeze ? 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 259 

To my great relief, the wind sets in from the north, and it will, I hope, 
soon bring the ice-pack back to the coast. Cavalli returns at five o'clock 
from Cape Fligely. The ice-pack is now only a few hundred yards 
distant from Cape Fligely and Cape Rohlfs ; but several channels are 
visible between Nansen Islands and Prince Rudolph Island. 


May ijth. Ice has again been formed during the night where 
yesterday there were stretches of open water. What I foresaw is 
now taking place, and at this moment a launch would run the risk of 
being imprisoned in the newly formed ice, which, on the other hand, 
is not strong enough to allow a man to walk on it. A launch is, 
however, got ready with provisions for ten days ; but 1 am convinced 
the north winds, which are shifting round to the west, will bring the 
pack up to the island, and render it unnecessary to send it. 

I leave in the evening with Savoie for Cape Fligely. Northerly 
winds set in, and last during the fifteen days that I pass at Cape 
Fligely. The ice-pack is driven against the coast, and again closed 
up, so that it is in a fit state for sledge travelling. It is moving 

260 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

slightly to the west, but to the east of Cape Fligely, as far as the 
eye can reach, it is not. The ice which is in motion moves along a 
line drawn from Cape Fligely to the most northerly of the Nansen 

The fog hardly ever lifts. In twelve days I have only been able 
twice to take an observation at noon. It thaws for the first time 
on June loth, and water is seen flowing on the level ground near 
our tent. 

This is how we pass our days. We rise at nine, breakfast 
about ten, dine at six in the evening, and at nine get into our 
sleeping-bag to sleep until the next day. We turn our telescope 
first towards one side of Cape Fligely, and then towards the other, 
passing entire hours in careful observation, so as to be certain that 
nothing which is within reach of our sight can escape us. When 
under the tent, we often talk about our comrades, and although we 
do our best to keep up our spirits, we do not succeed in overcoming 
our painful anxiety. It is not a very gay life, but, at least, we now 
live without physical suffering, which was not the case in March. 
The cooking is excellent, although Cardenti and Savoie sometimes 
forget to put Liebig's Extract into the soup. The reindeer-skin 
sleeping-bags are very warm with the present temperature ; we 
can sleep in them undressed without feeling cold, and can thus keep 
the bags always dry. The slight inconvenience of having to run about 
now and then to warm ourselves is nothing when we think of the 
time when, to bear the cold, we were obliged to take violent exercise 
almost continually, or else to get into the sleeping-bag, close up every 
opening, and stay there, even when we did not want to sleep. 

I have given to this post the name of Eldorado, and I find 
one day that the men have given to the hut the name of Columbia y 
and that they all prefer to live at Columbia than at Eldorado, with 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 261 

the exception of Cardenti, who is glad to stay there, or who at 
least says he is, and repeats continually, " Who can be better off 
than we are ? " On this point I do not agree with him, for I think 
that there are many other places where one might be better off than 
on this desolate headland, in a house built with snow, where the 
only tranquil moments are those passed in sleep, because we then 
cease to feel anxious as to the comrades for whom we are waiting. 

It is now June loth. According to our calculations, Cagni's 
resources must be exhausted by this time. When he separated from 
the second detachment he had forty-eight dogs and provisions for 
twenty days' further march towards the Pole, and forty days' return. 
His rations would come to an end on May 26th ; but he said that 
by economising them he might make them last until June loth. 
But that day has now come, and he has not appeared. Unless he 
has found means to procure food by hunting, he must be in a 
very difficult situation. I have full confidence in Captain Cagni's 
endurance, in his perseverance, and in his talent for surmounting , 
obstacles, but there are limits to everything. 

What can have happened to him to thus delay his march ? Has 
the strength of the dogs been exhausted? Savoie and Cardenti have 
the greatest confidence in those animals, as they had Anxiety with 

regard to Cagni's 

forty days' experience of them, and the fact that the Retum - 
doers of the second detachment came back in excellent condition, 

and were ready to start off immediately for another march, is a 

proof of their endurance. It is true that in other expeditions 
these animals have sometimes been suddenly attacked by a malady 
similar to rabies, which carried them off very soon. It does not, 
however, seem to me probable that this mishap can have happened 
to Cagni, because, if that were so, we too should have had some 
case of that malady among the dogs staying at the hut. 

262 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Has he been attacked by scurvy ? The advance of the English 
expedition of 1873 was checked by the outbreak of this malady, 
\/ among a crew which, before its departure, had been certified by the 
doctors on board as being in a perfect state of health. The disease 
appeared with great intensity, after a few days only of the exhausting 
life they led while on the ice. Cagni and his men were still in 
excellent health twenty days after they left ; but who can tell whether 
sixty days more of fatigue may not have developed the same malady 
in them ? Although from the outset I had taken precautions against 
scurvy, by following the example of what had been done on board 
the Fram, I could not feel perfectly safe, since, even at the present 
day, doctors do not positively know to what cause it is to be 
attributed. They are all of opinion, especially after the latest ex- 
peditions in which salt meat has not been used, that this disease 
may be ascribed to the use of such food ; but this is only a sup- 
position, and the real cause is still unknown. 

Some accident may have happened to some member of the 
detachment, and perhaps to Cagni himself, thus depriving the ex- 
pedition of the only person capable of ascertaining its position.. 

But may he not have been prevented by fogs and bad weather 
from taking the observations he requires for his guidance ? 

As our stores of food and petroleum were nearly exhausted on 
June loth, I decide on returning to the hut with my two companions. 
We go along the coast, in order to bring back a boat which had 
been abandoned near Cape Rohlfs, and reach the hut after a march 
of four and a half hours. We find many changes there. The 
thaw has necessitated the removal of all the boxes which formed 
the carpenter's shed ; they have been carried up to rocky ground, 
where the shed was rebuilt. To the south of our tent the snow 
has been cleared away, so that as it melts the water may run 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 263 

down to the sea. Though the snow is soft, the inside of the tent 
is perfectly dry. 

The launch is always kept in readiness to put to sea. The 
doctor tells me that, on the day after I left, the north-west wind had 
driven the ice-pack up to the coast, and thereby rendered it useless 
to send out a boat. The ice-pack is now more closely pressed against 
the coast than ever during the last month. 

I explain to the doctor my opinion of our present situation. 
It is time to think of saving our ship, and Cagni has not 
returned. What ought we to do? I believe that we we set to work 

to extricate the 
ought now to begin to try to extricate the ship. I Shi P 

have reflected much on the matter during the long hours 1 passed 
in my sleeping-bag at Cape Fligely. It would not be of much use 
to pass a second winter in Teplitz Bay waiting for Captain Cagni. 
A sledge expedition to White Land to search for him could only be 
undertaken in autumn, and during summer we could only explore 
Queen Victoria Sea with our launches in the neighbourhood of Prince 
Rudolph Island. Now, if Cagni has reached either of these places, 
he must have the means of reaching by some way or another either the 
hut or Cape Flora. If I left some men here, and brought the others 
home in the ship, those who remained would be less able to help 
themselves, and a smaller crew would have more trouble to bring 
the ship back. The most sensible plan seems to be to bring back the 
whole crew, leaving a sufficient store of provisions at Teplitz Bay 
and Cape Flora, and to send a ship to Cape Flora next summer. 
We shall leave Teplitz Bay at the end of July, and if Cagni has 
not returned by then, we may be almost certain that he is no longer 
to the north of us, that we must look for him in the direction of 
the south, and that we can do so more easily by means of the ship. 

While the doctor and Andreas go back to Cape Fligely, we set 

264 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

to work to extricate the ship. The ice, which is about four feet thick, 
is first of all cleared away from the engines and the hold. The latter 
is easily freed from water by means of the small boiler, just as we 
did last autumn. Our operations then, though, were carried on very 
slowly, as the water froze in the hose, but now there is nothing to stop 
them. As the ship adheres to the ice, there is less leakage than 
formerly, and once it is freed, two or three hours' pumping will suffice 
to make the hold dry. The furnaces, which were completely filled 
with ice, are also cleared ; it is rather hard work, and to get on more 
expeditiously we again make use of petroleum and coal. 

The ice in the bay shows no cracks, and the bay still presents th 
same appearance as in winter. The snow has become soft, and one 
sinks in it up to the knee ; but the thaw has not yet liquefied it. We 
are now in about the middle of June. The ice-pack has been driven 
up against the coast by the continuance of westerly winds. 

It has been my custom to go every day to the top of Cape 
Germania and examine with a telescope the immense expanse of frozen 
sea. The softness of the snow lengthens the journey so much that 
I lose half the day. I am beginning to make use of ski y and 
becoming accustomed to this sort of skates ; but I find that, though 
on level ground they can help a skilful person, they cause a loss of 
time when one is on an uneven surface, such as the ice-pack, and 
especially when following a sledge. While the snow is hard, the ski 
are a hindrance to any sort of work ; and as a loaded sledge does not 
go quickly, the ski are not of much advantage when travelling. They 
might, on the other hand, be useful when the snow is soft towards the 
end of spring, but then an expedition would still have its dogs, which 
cannot go over snow into which a man sinks. 

The ice-floes are small and thin. There are channels everywhere ; 
it would seem as though this ice had been formed late in spring in the 

Return of Dr. Cavalli and Commander Cagni 265 

neighbourhood of the island. No large ice-fields are visible. The 
ice-pack appears to be almost motionless ; but if an easterly wind sets 
in, it is driven away from the coast in a few hours. 

There have been fogs and calm weather during these last few 
days. The ice-pack remained in contact with the coast until the iyth, 
on which day it receded and left a vast expanse of open water to the 
west of the island. On Sunday, June iyth, we see for the first time a 

,***fff\ f^^JCiT" 


Briinnich's guillemot (Uria brunnichi), and Hans finds the eggs of the 
blue gull among the rocks of Cape Saulen, which are the first birds' 
eggs we have found this season. After the blue gull, the first to lay 
their eggs were the little auks, on June 2 8th. 

On June 1 9th Dr. Cavalli returns from Cape Fligely. A small 
channel has been formed. The ice-pack is intersected by channels, and 
has been driven a little to the north of the island. I leave towards 
evening for Cape Fligely, and shall stay there till the end of the 
month, after which I shall give up that position. 

266 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Though the snow is soft, we can still advance at a moderate 

speed, but it should be remarked that we have with us a sledge 

laden with only 220 Ib. On arriving at Eldorado* we 

Captain Cagni 

find our hut half destroyed by the thaw, but that does 
not matter much now, as the weather is generally calm. A light 
north-westerly wind drives the ice-pack again up to the coast. We 
pass the 22nd enveloped in a dense fog. The weather is dark and 
foggy on the morning of the -23rd, but becomes brighter towards 
evening, with a northerly breeze. We take advantage of it to examine 
the horizon. That evening we return to our tents later than usual, 
and while making our soup, hear our dogs bark. 

We think at first that a bear is approaching, and hasten out. 
What is our surprise when we see in the distance a sledge coming 
rapidly towards us ! As for some time I have not been accustomed to 
hear good news, my first idea is that some accident has happened at 
the hut ; a fire, perhaps, or some one has fallen dangerously ill. But 
all my fears vanish when Andreas calls out : " Cagni has come back ! " 
and when I ask: "With his companions?" "Yes, and he has 
reached 86 34'." Cardenti and I give a cheer. All my anxiety is 
dispelled by the joy I feel at the return of our comrades, who have 
gone to the highest latitude yet reached. 

We load the sledges, and about half-past eleven leave for the hut, 
where we arrive at five next morning. The sound of my voice awakens 
Captain Cagni. who hastens out, and we greet each other again after 
being separated for 104 days. If my anxiety has not quite disappeared, 
the return of four of the persons whom I thought lost and the success 
obtained by Captain Cagni procure for me a short interval of real 


Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record. Is it 
Impossible to reach the Pole ? 



CAPTAIN CAGNI, Petigax, Fenoillet, and Canepa had the 
appearance of having suffered much, but the last-named less 
than the others. Although their strength had been much reduced 
by want of sufficient food, they were not exhausted. Appearance of 

' J the Men and 

; The seven dogs which survived seemed much worse ; 

some of them were merely skin and bone. The only tacnment. 
part of their outfit they had brought back that was still capable of 
being of any use, was their tent, and this had been mended. The 
framework of the kayaks had been broken and their canvas torn, so 
that they could not be used unless a week were spent in mending 
them. The sledges which remained had been mended with pieces of 
other sledges. All that was left of their cooking utensils was the outer 
covering of the stove > a saucepan which had been mended, and the 
plates. The Primus lamp had been replaced by a pot, in which dog's 
grease had been burned for the last few weeks. The sleeping-bag had 
been thrown away, and only the thick canvas lining kept, Their 
clothes were in rags. 

The health of the men during the march had been excellent ; 
but Cagni had had the forefinger of his right hand frozen for the third 
time, so that the doctor now deemed it necessary to amputate a part 

of the bone. The dogs had given proofs of endurance, and none of 


270 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

them had died of disease. Their number had been reduced to seven, 
as some of them had served to feed their companions, and even the 
men, too, in the last few weeks. 

Captain Cagni had marched towards the North Pole for forty-five 
days, from March nth to April 24th. When he saw how difficult it 
\ The March per- would be to reach the same latitude as Nansen, he did 

formed by 

captain cagni. not allow himself to be discouraged by the first marches, 
which were so trying ; but he thought that if he sent the two first 
detachments back to the hut before the time which had been agreed 
on, he might be able to push on towards the north for some days 
longer by means of the provisions which would be thus economised. 
He was in this way able to reach 86 34' N. lat., and could even 
have got back to Teplitz Bay (while still living on the rations which 
he had brought with him) if the drift of the ice-pack had not carried 
him away to the west. Both Cagni, as leader of the detachment, and 
those who followed him are worthy of being recorded in history for 
the courage which they displayed, not merely while under the influence 
of a momentary enthusiasm, but with an admirable perseverance for 
many consecutive days. 

Although the difficulties encountered by the first two detach- 
ments, which were a shorter time on the march, were fewer, they were 
still such as to demand men of exceptional courage and force of 
character to surmount them. The fact that all the members of the 
expedition performed their respective duties so well, even those which 
were less important but not on that account less difficult, renders 
them all equally worthy of my admiration and of my gratitude. 

Cagni's march has surpassed all those hitherto made on the ice 
of the Arctic Ocean at a distance from land. Reckoning the miles in 
a straight line from Teplitz Bay to the most northern point reached 
by the expedition, and from thence to Ommaney Island, we find 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 271 

that Cagni travelled 60 1 miles in ninety-five days. Adding to that 
the distance between Ommaney Island and Prince Rudolph Island, 

it gives a total distance in a straight line of 637 miles, observations 

with regard to 
covered in 104 days, 1 without any help from depots, any Future Expe- 

J ' ] dition towards 

This march may be divided into three periods: from the North Pole< 
the departure from Teplitz Bay (March iith) till the second 
detachment was sent back (March 3ist) ; from March 3ist to May 


i 5th ; and from May ifth till the return to the hut. While during 
the first and last of these periods the average distance travelled every 

1 The entire distance travelled, measured by the trace on the map, is 753 

272 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

day was only five miles, in the second period it was over ten. Nansen's 
speed, which was at the rate of five miles a day at the utmost, has 
therefore been surpassed and brought up to ten miles a day by Cagni's 
expedition, which, moreover, was able to perform the same daily 
marches as Nansen, while it was crossing the rough ice near the island 
at its departure, and after the thaw on its return. But Cagni's march 
shows that this speed is not sufficient to enable a train of sledges to 
/ cover the distance between Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago and the 
Pole within the short space of time in which such a march can be 
accomplished. The rate of ten miles a day, at which Cagni was able 
to travel only during that portion of his journey when the ice was 
in an exceptionally favourable condition, ought to represent the rate 
of the average march during a period of a hundred days. Should we 
therefore give up all hope of reaching the Pole ? 

It would be useless to repeat the attempt by following the same 
plan. It would, at most, be possible to push on a few miles farther 
towards the north, if the ice on the Arctic Ocean was in an unusually 
favourable state ; but the results would not afford any compensation 
for the fatigue and the privations undergone. While following, there- 
fore, the invariable plan of setting out from some point on land, and 
not from a ship drifting in the ice, on account of the reasons put forth 
in the first chapter of this work, it will be necessary to find some other 
method of shortening the distance which has to be travelled with 
sledges. What 1 should recommend would be to sail along the western 
coast of Greenland to the north of Kennedy Sound, where it ought to 
be possible, under favourable conditions, to go to a still higher latitude 
than that reached by the Alert off Grant Land. 

I think it likely that the ice which presented such great obstacles 
to the sledge expedition Markham attempted to undertake to 
the north of Grant Land, was not very dissimilar to that which 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 273 

hindered our sledges from advancing in the neighbourhood of Prince 
Rudolph Island. I do not here allude to the greater or lesser thickness 
of the ice-fields ; but to the difficulty of travelling over a rugged 

The weight of the load carried by the sledges should not be 
calculated according to what the men and dogs can draw, but 


according to the limitations imposed by the unevenness of the ground 
over which the march must be performed. On ice in the neighbour- 
hood of land, the weight of the load, together with that of the sledge, 
must not be over 550 Ib, otherwise, after a few days' march, the 
sledges would be broken and unfit to serve, or it would be necessary 
to unload and make a level way for them. 

It should be remembered that no matter from where the start may 
VOL. i. 18 


the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

take place, there will always be a belt of very difficult ice in the vicinity 
of land. This may be easily understood if it is considered that, when 
the wind is from the land, the ice-fields are driven away from the 
coast ; and that they are again driven back to the land when the wind is 
from the sea, and when they become piled up one over the other at their 
weakest points, which are those formed by the belts of new ice. This 
belt of rugged ice, as was observed when Cagni's expedition set out, 


Messicano. Pantalone. Teresa. Sacripante. Piccin. 


may be looked upon as extending about 1 20 miles from the coast. In 
any future expedition the crossing of this belt will form a special 
period of the journey. During this time, which will also prove the 
coldest, several men must be employed to clear the way wherever it 
may be necessary ; warmer sleeping-bags and an equipment made of 
stronger materials should be taken, and larger rations given out. In a 
word, the preservation of the outfit and the comfort of the men should 
be the first consideration. It would seem that when this belt is passed, 
the ice becomes comparatively better ; I say comparatively, because the 
lesser obstacles also depend much upon the weather, both before and 
during the expedition. This second period will be totally different 
from the first. The advance should be made with a few picked men, 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 275 

several dogs, well trained during the first part of the expedition 
to drag the sledges and selected from among the strongest and 
most docile, and the equipment should be lighter. An expedition 
which should start about February 2Oth, to cross the frozen sea in the 
direction of the Pole from a latitude such as has already been reached 
in that locality by a ship (82 16') might find itself on March loth, 
after travelling for twenty days at the same rate as Cagni (five miles 
a day), in 84 N. lat., and upon ice which, being far from land, 
may be supposed to be level and easy to cross. From this point a 
detachment composed of as many men as Cagni's, but carrying pro- 
visions for eighty days, and furnished with more dogs and sledges than 
he had, should push on quickly towards the north at the rate of ten 
miles a day. If they did not reach the Pole, they would at least 



come very near it, and then, returning to 84 latitude, land on the 
northern coast of Greenland. They might find there depots of equip- 
ment and fresh provisions, and even in the months of June and July, 
when it is difficult to travel over the frozen sea, they could rejoin their 
ship by coming down along the land. 

2j6 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Leaving aside, therefore, the obstacles presented by the ice, which 
are the same in both places, Greenland possesses the following advan- 
tages over Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago. The funnel formed by 
the northern opening of Robeson Sound and Grant Land to the 
west, and Greenland to the east, must stop the movement of the ice 
towards the south in spring, when the expedition would be on its way 
towards the north, and would thus prevent the drift which reduced 
the length of Cagni's daily marches so much, especially during the 
period of the expedition. 

Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago forms a triangle, with its 
summit towards the north, and is therefore difficult to find ; and what 
happened to Cagni, who, because he went past this point when coming 
down to the south, had therefore to travel a greater distance, might 
also happen to any detachment that wanted to reach the camp on 
Prince Rudolph Island. This danger does not exist in Greenland, 
as the ship or the camp from which the expedition towards the Pole 
would start would be situated to the south of any other land, and even 
if the expedition deviated from its course when returning, it would 
easily find the camp by following the coast. 

There were several defects in our equipment which it may 
be well to state here, together with the changes which seem most 

Defects in our advisable. 

The sledges were sufficiently high from the ground, 
and strong enough to carry a weight not greater than 550 Ib. The 
runners were broad enough, but I think that the under-runner is use- 
less. As the expedition was not to return later than the end of May, 
it was not necessary to take off the under-runner and use runners 
shod with white metal to enable the sledge to slide better. On the 
other hand, the under-runners, which are made of a thin slip of wood, 
break very easily when on hard ice, and allow the entire weight of 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 277 

the sledge to bear upon the runner, from which the white metal plating 
is soon worn off, thereby losing the advantage derived from this 
addition, and weakening the sledge. I think that if these white metal 
covers were done away with, and the runners made stronger, the 
weight of the sledge would be reduced, and its strength increased, 
while its speed would not be diminished. The aluminium boxes 
placed at the bottom of the sledge are not of much use. It is more 
convenient to make use of sacks, which do not weigh much more, and 

. . 


can be mended. As the flat-bottomed kayaks fitted perfectly well on 
to the boxes, it was easy to pack them, and they were sufficiently sea- 
worthy to be of use in crossing the channels. We did not all agree 
as to whether it was better to carry this Esquimaux canoe, or a plain 
folding boat of canvas, which we had, on the model of the James 
folding boat, but lighter. 

As two kayaks weigh no lb., and a boat weighs 131 lb., 
canoes might be made of the same weight as two kayaks, which would 

278 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

have the advantage of being able to cross a channel more easily, and of 
not being so liable to be injured by blows. For my part, I am convinced 
that after a long journey a folding boat would be equally torn, and be 
in the same state as Cagni's kayaks when he came back. The sole 
advantage of a boat or a kayak is the help it gives when crossing a 
channel, but considering that Cagni never used his kayaki, and that 
the doctor could very well have done without them, as when he was 
starting he had not the courage to take one, there would be a saving 
of 110 Ib. if they were left aside, which would represent some days 
of food and, in my opinion, would be more useful than either kayaks 
or boats. 

Sleeping-bags like ours can still be much improved. Wrangell 


used a double bag in his expeditions ; I would advise doing the 
same, and not seek to economise any weight in this part of the 
outfit, so as to be able to bear the intense cold in spring. It would, 
moreover, be better if, besides the double bag for three or four 
persons, each one had his own. The outer bag should be made in 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 279 

such a way that, when the season is more advanced and less inclement, 
the inner bag might be taken away and only the outer one used. I 
do not know how to avoid the humidity which exists in all sleeping- 
bags. It has two causes : the condensation of the breath in the 


interior of the bag when the men get into it and closed every aperture, 
and the snow brought into the bag on their clothes and melted during 
the night by the rise of temperature. This latter cause of discomfort 
can be remedied to a certain degree by taking great care to brush 
one's clothes before entering the bag, and by making use of overalls; 
as to the former, it is impossible to avoid it as the bags are now made. 
It is impossible to sleep with the head exposed ; it is necessary to 
close every aperture to keep off the cold, and then the breath is 
condensed. Any one who thinks seriously of organising an expedi- 
tion should go to some cold country, such as Siberia, to make 
experiments with different sorts of bag, and make changes in them 
on the spot. In this way, I am certain that the comfort of the 
members of an expedition could be much increased. 

280 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

The cooking-stove designed by Nansen is, without doubt, that 
which best utilises the heat of the combustible employed, and the 
Primus lamps are. the ^quickest that exist. The speed with which a 
meal can be cooked' >s 'of great importance, .as" it -allows the men to 
take refuge as 'soon as possible in. their sleeping-bags, and thus put 
an end to the hardship of remaining exposed to temperatures for 
which their bodies -were not created. They could not go to bed 
before eating, as the bags would be saturated with water after a few 
days, on account of the steam which condenses in the tent during 
meals, and is so dense that the men cannot see. each other. The 
saucepans must have 'very thick bottoms, otherwise, if they are 
filled with snow or ice' while the temperature is*low, the strong flame 
of the lamp might burn them before there was water enough to 
cover the bottom.^.* 

The tents .we used' were easily put up, and ' sufficiently strong 
for a journey of that length. 

The clothes should all be of wool" and very closely woven, as 
well as the vests^ worn '-next the skin ; they should not be hairy, so 
as not to catch the snow. The jackets should open in front, and 
not be made like a smock-frock, for the latter when frozen cannot 
be taken off without help. The clothing worn during the march 
was more than enough to meet all the variations of temperature of 
those regions, and we all agreed in preferring it to furs. Instead 
of the wind-repellers, I would suggest a light flannel coat, which 
could be taken off before getting into the bag, and should be always 
worn when on the march. It would hinder transpiration, and would 
keep the clothes underneath it dry and free from snow. The best 
shoes are the finskos, but they must be very wide, so that they can 
be put on over several socks and with sedge-grass padding, even 
when they are frozen. They should be specially made, for those 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 281 

that are bought ready made are adapted only for the Finns, who 
have very small feet. Over the knitted helmet should be worn a 

woollen cap, covering the head well ; it will keep it warmer, and 
prevent the helmet from getting wet, which is very important, as it 
has to be worn day and night. When wearing this helmet, the 

282 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

mouth should always be left uncovered, otherwise the breath 
would condense on the wool, and soon form a mask of ice which 
might easily cause frost-bites. A strap of woollen stuff fixed to one 
.side of it, which can be placed over the nose at will, is the best 
protection for the nose and for the cheeks. The best gloves are 
very thick woollen gauntlets, wide and long, so as to cover the 
entire hand. 

Aluminium instruments are not suitable, as they are easily spoiled. 
I think it well to be furnished with an artificial mercurial horizon, 
as it is difficult to level a glass horizon when the temperature is 
low. A skilful observer can always take observations, even with a 
small artificial horizon, and the trifling quantity of mercury which 
has to be carried cannot weigh more than two pounds at most. The 
greater rapidity, ease, and certainty of the observation are advantages 
which compensate for the slight increase of weight. Pocket chrono- 
meters, if properly carried, are not injured by shocks or changes of 
temperature ; but it is indispensable that they should go for more than 
forty-eight hours without being wound up; The bearer should always 
carry them hung from his neck, beneath his clothes and next his skin, 
-so that they may be protected against jolting. 

. The ice-axes, without which it is impossible to cross the ice- 
ridges, are also an important part of the outfit. The wood and the 
steel must be very carefully selected, otherwise they are broken 
after a few days' march. 

The harness for the dogs had been well prepared, and worked well. 

Our rations were excellent and plentiful. It is well to have a 
small surplus, as thus the ration can be diminished if necessary, and 
the provisions made to last longer, while the men are kept in good 
health. More milk and butter might be allowed at the outset, and 
less pemmican in proportion ; in this way the ration would be more 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 283 

varied, though the weight would be the same. Seventeen ounces of 
pemmican was a very large ration for the dogs, and, indeed, strictly 
speaking, an expedition might travel while giving them only 
10 oz. 8 dr. ; but it should be observed that the endurance shown 
by our dogs at the end of the expedition, when they had no other 
food than the dogs we killed, was, without doubt, chiefly owing to their 


having been well fed at the beginning. In any future expedition the 
dogs' daily ration should be fixed at sixteen ounces of pemmican, 
which, in case of necessity, will allow their existence to be prolonged. 

In these expeditions the guides were of the greatest use. There 
are many who still believe that they can serve only in their Alpine 
regions. I remember the astonishment I caused in America by 

284 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

bringing guides from the Alps for the ascent of Mount St. Elias. 
The state of the places through which a guide is continually passing 
The use of changes from year to year, sometimes from day to day, 

Alpine Guides . 

and of sailors and the guide does not ascend to the summit or a moun- 

in a Polar 

Expedition. ta j n j^y ^ Q same path, but by various ways among 
the seracs of a glacier, the crevasses of a high table-land, or the 
rocks of a cliff, according to the state of the ice, of the snow, or 
the rock. The guides are therefore accustomed from their youth to 


observe attentively and decide prudently, and the active life as well 
as the dangers which they encounter in following their trade give 
strength to their bodies and fortitude to their minds. The same gifts 
are often put to the trial at sea, although for other reasons, and to 
form the expedition I had, therefore, chosen men from the Alps and 
sailors, giving the preference, however, to^the former, on account of 
their knowledge of ice. 

The greatest care should be given to the choice of the men 
and dogs. One should not start for these expeditions unless with 

Captain Cagni breaks the Polar Record 285 

persons who have given proofs of their moral and physical capacity. 
Only those who are in a state of perfect health should go on an Arctic 
expedition. The illness of one man may cause the loss of a detach- 
ment, or the failure of an expedition ; and, moreover, it is only 
the absolute obedience of all the men (not the blind obedience of 
persons who do not know what they are doing, but the obedience 
inspired by the sense of duty and of confidence in their chiefs) which 
can allow the leader to come to decisions he would otherwise find 
it very difficult to carry out. 

The order for the dogs ought to be given in time. When 
they are collected in Siberia, those of inferior quality should be 
put aside, and only those selected which seem the strongest and to 
have the most power of endurance, otherwise they are an em- 
barrassment, both on ship-board and, later on, when travelling with 
the sledges. 

If an expedition which is getting ready to undertake a long 
march over ice is not composed of men who are already very well 
acquainted with the Arctic regions, it ought to make frequent excur- 
sions in winter, not only to test the outfit, but also to accustom the 
men to the life which they shall have to lead. Once they are on 
the march, it is difficult even for the most active and intelligent 
leader to look after his subordinates continually, and so make 
everything go as he would wish. The men should be convinced 
how necessary it is that each one should take the greatest care of 
his personal outfit and clothing, as after the departure it will be 
impossible to replace anything that may be spoiled or lost. It is 
also necessary on setting out, having been in a state of inaction 
for so many months, that the work should be increased little by 
little, so as not to put too great a strain at the beginning on the 
strength of the men composing the expedition, as they are already 

286 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

weakened by the intense cold, and the first nights they have 
passed sleeping out of their usual beds. 

The Polar regions admit within their limits only well-prepared 
and resolute men, and they are terribly severe towards those who go 
there carelessly and trusting too much in their strength. 

A Polar Summer 



A FTER Captain Cagni's return, the tent and ship were 
^~~\. decorated with flags for several days. Sadness had given way 
to joy, and these days of material repose for the detachment just come 
back were for us days of moral repose. 

My anxiety was now at an end. The ship had to be extricated 
from the ice as soon as possible. There was no longer The situation of 

the Polar Star 

any hope that, after so many months, the first detachment in the ice-Fieid. 
might still be found to the north on White Land. The fact that, in 
a much more advanced season, Cagni, although much exhausted, was 
able to reach Teplitz Bay from Harley Island, was the clearest proof 
that, if Querini's detachment had succeeded by any means in reaching 
the island discovered by Nansen, or any other land within the distance 
covered by Cagni, at a time when the season was more favourable, he 
would certainly have been able to return to the hut. 

The wind ought now to have set in from the east, to drive the 
ice-pack away from the shore and leave the bay free once more. We 
were at the end of June. The sun was beginning to sink, after having 
reached the highest altitude. We had already remarked that, with the 
latter days of August, navigation as a rule came to an end in this 
locality. We had therefore only two months to extricate the ship and 
bring her at least as far as Cape Flora. 

But there came Jong periods of calm, alternately with winds from 
VOL. i. 289 19 

290 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

every point of the compass. The sea was as much covered with ice at 
the end of June as it had been at the worst times during our stay, and 
the bay was in the same state as during winter. Although the snow 
was soft everywhere, it did not form those streams of water which last 


year ran alongside the ship, and encouraged me to hope that by their 
means I might be able to free her. If it were not for the temperature, 
we might think that we were still in April or in May. 

The ice had been cleared out of the ship ; the engines were in 
good order ; and she was ready to leave. She was at i 80 yards from 

A Polar Summer 


the edge of the ice in the bay, and not only required to be righted, 
but to be got out of the ice by which she was shut in. If the ice 
in the bay had not turned round under the pressure of the ice-pack, 
and built up against the coast an ice-ridge at the very point where the 
ship's bow had opened a channel, the ice which had been formed 
during winter would not have become very thick, and would have 
gone to pieces, or we could have broken it up with the ship's bow or 
by blasting. But, after the pressure, the ice-field in front of the ship 
had obtained in some points a thickness of five yards ; it would not, 
therefore, melt during the summer, and we should even find it difficult 
to break it up by blasting. 

July 5th marked the beginning of summer. Since the end of 
June, a few streamlets had been trickling here and there, O ur Tents in 
and on the level ground above the place where we had 
pitched our tent, a small lake had been formed, which froze and thawed 


2()2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

according to the temperature. On July 6th the temperature was 
above freezing point all day, which caused a rapid thaw. Water 
began to flow on all sides, with a deafening noise, which we found 
pleasant. The fifteen days following were really like summer ; there 
was neither wind nor fog. It was very agreeable to work out of doors, 


and we could believe that we had been transported to another land. 
It rained for the first time on July nth. 

We feared that, during the thaw, the water might penetrate into 
our tent, but as the upper part was still buried in the ice, it protected 
us by turning the water aside and making it flow on either side of the 
hut. The small quantity of water which got into the tent ran out> 
and left the floor of our dwelling dry. The temperature of the hut 
became so warm that we were obliged to make as many outlets as 
possible to air it. When the temperature was from five to seven 
degrees above freezing point, we could lie for hours comfortably 

A Polar Summer 


stretched against the outer tent without feeling the cold, and it was 
there that we always met in our leisure moments. But, if the sun was 
hidden by a cloud for a few minutes, we were reminded that we were 
in the Arctic regions. On rainy days we remained under the first tent, 
where, by opening and raising up the sides, we could enjoy the air 
without getting wet ; for we avoided, as much as possible, staying in. 
the inner tent, where we continued to burn petroleum lamps. 

In July, after a week's rest, Cagni and those of his detachment 


set to work again. He re-commenced taking pendulum observations, 
this time in the carpenter's hut, where, as the temperature was 
always the same, they could be taken with precision. The magnetic 
observations were also taken up again in their special hut, but were 
interrupted later on, when the hut was carried away by a rush of water. 


Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

We had been struck last year by seeing how quickly ice melted 

when water flowed over it, and we therefore thought of making use of 

water to free the right side of our ship. Two channels 

We cut Channels 

were dug to bring the water coming down from the 
glacier alongside the ship. One of them, which formed a 
cascade, was named Niagara ; the other, which was wider, was named 
the Amazon. The doctor had undertaken to supervise and direct the 
construction of these canals, on which we had founded great hopes. 


These torrents, changed into canals, caused us sometimes some 
uneasiness, especially on rainy days, when the water overflowed and 
sought to reach the sea by the shortest road, instead of following the 
longer way, which we had dug out with so much toil. At first these 
canals produced no great effect, but later, towards the end of July, 
they wore away the ice, as we had seen last year. 

The snow was thawing quickly, and here and there appeared the 
bluer tint of the ice. The kennels, which were still buried in the snow 

A Polar Summer 295 

when Cagni came back, were now almost quite uncovered. It was 
fatiguing to walk on the glacier, as one sank in the snow up to 
the knees, and it was the same wherever there was an extent of 


thin ice covered with snow, with, moreover, the danger of going 
through the ice. Wherever the ice formed a hollow without any 
cracks, there were pools. We were again in a land streaming with 
water, just as last year. From Cape Saulen to Cape Clement Markham 

296 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

the ice-pack receded from the shore, or came back, according to 
how the wind changed. But the ice-fields between Karl Alexander 
and Prince Rudolph Islands did not move, or give signs of 
moving, and, on July i5th, there was only to be seen a small 
channel a few yards wide, which during all the winter had been 
hidden by the drift, and was now visible when the snow which had 
covered it thawed. 

^^BFRT^H ^L 


It was an agreeable distraction for us to look for eggs in the nests 
around us. The first eggs collected were given to the doctor to be 
preserved. Later on, we thought of procuring some for the kitchen, 
and made excursions for that purpose to Cape Auk. When out 
walking we shot little auks and guillemots, whose flesh helped to vary 

A Polar Summer 297 

our food. We also tasted, but without much liking it, the flesh of the 
ivory gull. 

The fine weather came to an end on July 2oth, and from thence- 


forward the sky was again almost always hidden by frequent fogs, 
with rain and snow at intervals. The Arctic summer was already 
at an end, and autumn rapidly drawing near. We had a 


298 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

banquet to celebrate the day on which last year we had reached 
Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago. The pleasure we then felt, 
Anniversary on arriving in an Arctic land was now changed into 

of our Arrival 

in Emperor a totally different reeling, so that, when we touched our 

Franz Josef 

Archipelago. glasses together, we drank to our speedy departure. 
Twelve months passed on those shores had been enough to bring 
about this change. 

The following table may give some idea of the temperature at 
Teplitz Bay during the year we spent there : * 






Deg. (Cent.). Deg. (Cent.). 

Deg. (Cent). 

August .... 

1-84 -1- 6-9 

- 7'3 

September .... 

5'34 + 5' 2 


October .... 

I5"92 2"O 


November .... 

1875 7'4 


December .... 

- 1774 - 12-3 

- 22'2 



- 19-87 2-4 

- 37 '5 

February . 

2965 - 18-4 

- 42-9 

March .... 

28-97 - 19-4 

- 40-5 

April ..... 

- '9 -I 4 3'5 

- 35'4 

May ..... 

- 9'57 - 2-5 

-- 17-9 

June ..... 

i'34 T 3' 1 



-t- 2-32 -t- II 



+ 3-09 + 6'6 


1 See Scientific Observations, Part I., Chapter VI., "Meteorological Observations," 
report by Professor Giovanni Battista Rizzo. 

The Ship is set Free 


T ~\ TIL had been making preparations to extricate the ship from 
V V the ice since the spring. The snow had been cleared away 
from her sides, and as we foresaw that we should require to do some 
blasting, we had got ready a drill to sink holes in the ice. 1 Difficulty of 

righting' the 

We could not as yet know if the Polar Star, which snip, 
had been driven towards the shore by the pressure of the ice in the 
autumn, was resting on the bottom or on ice. It was most important 
that we should know, that we might decide what should be done. We, 
therefore, for this purpose sank holes in the ice round the ship to find 
its thickness, and found that on the right side, next the coast, both 
at the bow and at the stern, it was 17 ft. 10 in. thick, and to the 
left, next the sea, from 9 ft. 9 in. to 16 ft. 3 in., with water beneath 
it. There was no fear, therefore, of the ship being stranded. 

The first of the two canals which brought water to the ship ended 
at the stern, opposite the propeller well ; the second, to the right, at 
the bow. Some of the water which ran through the canal next the 

1 We had forgotten to take one on leaving Christiania. The drill which we 
made at Teplitz Bay was composed of a screw, which pierced the ice, and carried 
on the top two cutting edges of the same width as the cylinders which held the gun- 
cotton. A long pole with a handle, worked by two men, made the screw turn in 
the ice, and the cutting edges made the hole, which, in two hours, was sunk to the 
depth of sixteen feet. The crushed ice was taken out with a ladle from time to 
time, so that it should not prevent the screw from biting into the hard ice beneath. 

3O2 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

stern flowed along the right side of the ship till it met the water 
brought by the canal next the bow, and some of it passing through 
the opening of the well, and round the rudder, flowed along the left 
side, and fell into the sea through the clefts in the ice. Some of the 
water ran also in front of the ship towards the sea, along the line 

dividing the fixed ice from the movable ice-field, and hollowed out a 
channel which, in some places, was more than a yard deep. 

The aspect of the ice-field had been very much changed in the last 
few days ; the ice-field was becoming detached from the ice fixed to the 
shore ; the crevasses which existed already were being enlarged, and 
others appeared. Whether because the thawing of the snow on the 
ice-field had allowed it to rise, or because the ice-field had receded, the 
steel cables, which we had made fast to the shore during winter, and 
had always been tightly stretched, were now slack at high tide. 

To set the ship free it was necessary to carry out the same 

The Ship is set Free 


operations as last year, except that the action of the bow had to 
be replaced by blasting. A channel had to be dug, beginning at 
the outer limit of the ice-field, up to the stern of the ship, and passing 
along her left side ; the ship would then slide on the ice fixed along 
the coast, and right herself, or if a mine were sprung under her right 
side, she would become loosened with a violent shock from the hollow 
in which she rested. This operation would have been easy if the ice 


which adhered to Prince Rudolph and Karl Alexander Islands had 
receded. But on July I5th it not only had not moved, but gave no 
sign of moving ; and the season was already so far advanced that it was 
to be feared, if we did not move under the pressure of a high 
wind, we might not have been able to do all that was necessary to open 
the canal and set the ship free in time. We had less than a month 

304 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

before us. Our longing to return home made us attempt to right the 
Polar Star in the place where she lay. 

It was a long and tedious undertaking to right the ship without 
first clearing away the ice on the side next the sea, for it had not only 
to be broken, but also removed from the left side, so as to let the ship 
slide down into the water. As the ice was very solid, and could not 
open out when it was blasted, it was necessary to break it up into 
small pieces, so as to form a large pool, and the pool should be freed 
from these pieces of ice either by dragging them out by ropes and 
pulleys, or by sending them down to the sea by the canals alongside 
the ship. The amount of cubic yards of ice which would require to 
be thus taken away was very great. Could we hope to succeed ? 

As from this point we shall have to allude frequently to mines, 
it will be well to describe our materials. We had 437 Ib. of gun- 
The ice-Fieid cotton in hexagonal cakes, weighing ten ounces each. Ten 
of these cakes formed a mine, and we had therefore enough 
for sixty-four mines. They were placed in strong bronze cylinders, 
hermetically sealed by a cover which screwed on, and was pierced 
to receive a plug, carrying the wires for the electrical current. 
This plug was of indiarubber, and tightened by a screw which 
completely closed the case. 

Some of these guncotton cakes were thoroughly soaked in 
paraffin ; the rest had it merely on the outside. To ignite them 
we had a Siemens machine, and an ordinary pile as well. We had also 
a very small quantity of blasting powder and ordinary gunpowder. 
We had enough tin cylinders, holding 8 Ib. 12 oz. of powder each, 
to furnish thirty-five of these mines. 

Not being certain as to the effect of mines on .ice, we began by 
placing one of guncotton at thirty-two feet from the ship, where the ice 
was fourteen feet thick. When it exploded the ship was much shaken, 

VOL. I. 


The Ship is set Free 


but the ice was merely starred. As the effect was so slight, we saw that 
we should have to diminish the distance from the ship if we wished to 
form a pond of open water alongside of her. On the following days, 
other mines, charged with only eight cakes of guncotton, were tried to 
the right of the ship at a distance of from nineteen to twenty-six feet. 
These were placed on the rocky bottom and in the ice fixed to the shore, 


but when they exploded they merely made a well two yards in diameter. 
We then placed two mines in the same hole in front of the ship, beneath 
ice which was 14 ft. 6 in. thick, and not resting on the bottom. 
They were fired together, and shook the vessel very much, but the 
only result was to bring the ice to the surface. Three other mines 
were placed round the ship, which are marked on the annexed plan by 
the numbers 6, 7, 8, without producing any practical result. These 

308 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

mines so shook the ship as to make us fear that it might sustain some 
damage, but they produced very little effect. When placed under ice 
from nine to sixteen feet thick, they only cracked it slightly, and 
when on the ice at the bottom of the sea, they made a well, it is 
true, but so small in diameter that to make a small lake round the 
ship would require more charges than we possessed. Eight had 
been spent in these attempts apparently without any result ; we 
had only fifty remaining, 1 and it would be necessary to use these 
slowly, so as not to be without any when the season should be 
more advanced. 

As we saw how difficult it would be to continue to employ the 
same method, and as the channel at the boundary of the ice-field 
had become wider, we tried a mine of guncotton under the ice near 
its edge, where it was about thirteen feet thick. As it was a spot 
where the ice might be able to move a little, at least in one direction, 
we could hope that the mine would detach a large piece. But though 
it was put at five or six yards from the edge, it did not break it. 
As the ship was about i 80 yards from the edge of the ice-field, all 
the charges we had would not suffice to make the canal in this fashion. 
The result of our two attempts was discouraging. The work was, 
therefore, suspended for a time, and we resolved to wait another 
week to allow the temperature to rise higher and have some effect 
on the ice. 

In the meantime we continued to sink holes in the ice to the left 
of the ship, to place a chain of thirteen mines, marked on the plan 
by the numbers 9 to 21. which were to be exploded three by three. 
They were sprung on the 2ist. The ship was so violently shaken 
that all the doors were torn off their hinges ; but even then she 
did not move, and the ice showed only the usual cracks. We had 
1 Six had been spent in the preceding year. 


Gun-cotton Mines. 

1 - under ice 14 ft. 8 int. thick at 32 ft. from the hip 
(a full charge). 

2 - at the bottom, in ice 9 ft. 10 ing. thick, at 26 ft. from 
the ship (a charge of only 8 cakes). 

8 - at the bottom, in ice 9 ft. 10 ing. thick, at la ft. 8 ins. 

from the ship (the same charge) 
4-5 under ice 14 ft. 8 ins., sprung together. The 

bottom wag at 19 ft. 

6 - at the bottom, in ice 8 ft. 9 ing. thick, at 8 ft. 1 in. 
from the ship. 

7 - at the bottom, in ice 11 ft. 9 in. thick, at 8 ft. I in. 
from the ship. 

8 - under ice 8 ft. 9 ing. thick, the bottom beiu? at 19 ft. 

9 - under ice 11 ft. 8 in. thick. 

10-11-12-13-11-15-16-17 -under ice 10 ft. 9 in*, 'thick. 
18-19-20-20A - under ice 8 ft. 9 iu. thick. 

21 - at the bottom, in ice 11 ft. 9 ins. thick. 

Gunpowder Mines. 

32-23-24-25-26-27 - in ice 8 ft. 9 ins. thick, at 4 ft. 10 ins, 

from the surface, at 4 ft. 10 ins. from the ship. 
38-29-30-31-32-33-34-35-36-37-38 - in ice 10ft. 9 ins. thick. 

at about 6 ft. from the surface, and at 4 ft. 10 ins. from 

the ship. 
39-40-41 - in ice 14 ft. 8 in. thick, at about 8 ft. 1 in. from 

the surface . 

A - Foremast. 

B - Mainmast. 

C - Mizzenmast. 

D - Ice adhering to the shore. 

E - Ice 14 ft. 8 ins. thick. 

F - Ice 11 ft. 10 ing. thick. 

O - Ice 8 ft. 9 ins. thick. 

The Ship is set Free 


only twenty-two charges left, and our work did not seem to have 
made any progress. 

The ice-field next the islands gave no sign that it was about 
to move, and it was therefore, thought, advisable to continue-working 

GL'LL (stcrcorarius parasitic us] 

round the ship. But there all our charges were being spent without 
producing any result. It seemed better, therefore, to attempt to 
reconstruct the channel leading from the outer part of the ice-field 
towards the inner, making use of the small channel which ran along 
the bay-ice to carry away the broken floes. There could not be the 

310 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

slightest doubt that that was the best method of freeing the ship ; 
but every time that we tried to break up the ice in that direction, 
the results were so trivial as to dissuade us from seeking to attempt 
it. On July 29th and 3<Dth eight charges of gunpowder and one 
of guncotton were exploded at the end of the channel ; but after 
about eighteen hours' work, only six or seven yards of ice were 
broken off. There was also another matter still more serious. The 
guncotton had been sent to me from the manufactory in four cases, 
three containing guncotton mixed with paraffin, and one containing 
some of the same sort of guncotton, together with sixty cakes of 
cotton without paraffin, to be used for igniting the charge. Half 
of these cakes were already pierced to receive the detonators, the 
others were not. When the former sort were spent, Andreas, while 
charging the mines, asked me if it mattered which sort he used, 
and I, without thinking, erroneously replied that it was all the same. 
In order not to keep all the cases of guncotton open, the cakes 
intended for lighting were used as ordinary cakes, and after all 
these attempts we were left with only a small quantity of guncotton 
mixed with paraffin, and without the means of igniting it. I felt 
very uneasy on learning this, as I feared that, in consequence of 
my absence of mind, we might be unable to leave the bay. What 
ought we to do ? 

If we continued to make the channel from outside towards the 
ship, we might bring it, by means of the few remaining charges, 
up to within a few yards of her, and then have no way of ex- 
tricating her ; while, on the other hand, if we raised her up by 
springing mines of guncotton and powder, and set her afloat, we 
might still have some hope of working our way out, with the help 
of the engines and the bow of the ship. 

On August ist an easterly wind drove the ice-field between 

The Ship is set Free 311 

Karl Alexander and Prince Rudolph Islands about 200 yards from 
the coast, and, at the same time, formed in the south ^ Polar Sfap 
near Cape Auk a broad channel through which the ship 1S 
could easily have passed. Another channel was opened between Karl 
Alexander and Hohenlohe Islands. The sea was at last once more 


free from ice, and we could foresee that if the wind were to continue 
for a few more hours, the bay would be brought back to the same 
state that it was in last year. As the ice-pack had gone away out 
of sight, it was a sign that the open water round Emperor Franz 
Josef Archipelago extended as far as it did last year. We were 
already at the beginning of August, we had worked hard, and 
had achieved nothing. Should we, then, have to pass a second 
winter here, and lose the 'Polar Star ? 

312 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

We again began to sink mines round the ship with febrile 
activity. Three mines of powder were placed at 4 ft, 10 in. 
from each other, and 4 ft. 10 in. from the ship, -in the large 
floe next her stern, between her side and a crevasse. These -mines 


at last detached a large 'block of ice, which was broken up into smaller 
pieces by small charges of powder, which were again broken up with 
pick-axes. . We thus formed the first lake of open water which should 
afterwards help us in our work. The broken ice was driven with 
poles into the channels alongside the ship, to be carried away to 
the sea, and as these channels were only i ft. 7 in. to I ft. 1 1 in. 
deep, the ice required to be splintered into very small pieces. On 

The Ship is set Free 313 

August 2nd and 3rd the same method was employed, until the 
ship's stern and left side up to the middle were freed from ice. 

There were so many of these floating blocks of ice that, to 
get rid of them, we put up sheers to raise the largest with ropes 
and pulleys, worked by the ship's windlass. It was not easy to hoist 
these enormous blocks of ice. They sometimes slipped from their 
slings, and fell back into the water with a loud splash. The work 
had to be interrupted from time to time, as when the blocks were 


piled up they left no room to use the sheers, and a small sledge was 
therefore made to carry them away to a distance of thirty or forty 
yards. All this took up much time, and though the sheers were 
of no slight help in quickly clearing away the ice, the greater part of 
this very fatiguing work was done with the help of pick-axes. 

314 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

We all worked with ardour ; we could not afford to lose a day, 
as speed might perhaps decide whether it would be possible for us to 
return home that year. The work, with a short rest for meals, lasted 
from eight in the morning till seven in the evening, and sometimes 
till ten. As the largest pieces broken off by the smaller mines 
were lifted up with the sheers, the crew smashed up the remainder 
and drove them down the channels, which were thus doubly useful ; 


they carried away to the sea the fragments made by blasting, and 
they wore away quickly the ice alongside the ship, as they had done 
in the previous year. 

If the number of mines could have been increased, the work would 
have progressed more rapidly. But we had now only, a few charges 
remaining. Hence, when one was exploded, we worked for several 
hours with pick-axes in the hole which it had made to bring the smaller 
pieces of ice to the surface, as, when they were taken away, the 

The Ship is set Free 


larger pieces could rise in their turn. Dr. Cavalli was indefatigable 
at this work. He sometimes sat in the launch for hours struggling 
obstinately with small projections of ice; and when these were broken, 
large pieces rose to the surface, without requiring any more mines, 
and struck the launch with such violence that it was in danger of cap- 
sizing. The pressure of the ice as time went on piled blocks up under 


the ship ; there were thus large masses lying one over the other with 
water between them, which sometimes caused an erroneous idea that 
all the ice had been taken away, whereas some still remained adhering 
to the ground and under the keel. Although the work was most 
fatiguing, the incidents which occurred now and then made the time 
pass rather quickly. The men fell with their pick-axes on the large 
blocks of ice as they floated up. Then, as they were broken to 

316 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

pieces, their centre of gravity was changed ; they began to sway, and 
at last turned over, ducking those upon them. 

Although the charges of guncotton could not act for want of 
the detonating cakes, we tried to ignite them by every means. But the 
result was so discouraging that I resolved to use them no more, but 
to work only with the help of gunpowder and pick-axes. 

By continuing on the 6th, yth, and 8th, to sink mines near the 
ship at intervals of two or three yards, and by working with pick-axes 
for several hours after each mine was sprung, we succeeded in forming 
an open pool about four or five yards wide on the left side of the ship, 
which reached as far as the shrouds of her fore-mast. The ship was, 
therefore, held only by the ice at the bow. 

On August 8th, eleven months had elapsed since the Polar Star 
had been abandoned, and on the afternoon of that day, after a mine 
had been sprung, the ship was seen to move and right herself slowly. 
The sight caused general enthusiasm. It was the reward of the 
fatigues of the previous days ; we had regained possession of our ship, 
and the success of this part of our work filled us with hope for the 

On the two following days, the 9th and loth, we continued 
breaking the ice which still remained round the bow, in order to form 


The snip is a dock large enough to allow the ship to move and to 

extricated from 

the ice-Fieid. carry out, with the help of her bow and her engines, the 
work hitherto done with powder and the arms of the crew. Two 
or three mines cut away about ten yards of ice at the bow, but 
here the work became harder, as the lower part of the ice was less 
broken up in the places where no guncotton mines had been sprung. 
We then found that these mines, which had seemed at first to produce 
no results, had shattered the bottom ice ; and that, where none had 
been sunk, it took twice as much time to advance a few yards. The 

The Ship is set Free 

entire ice-field along the coast had receded, driven by the easterly 
winds, and only 180 yards from the ship there was open water, which 
could be seen from the upper part of the beach, stretching as far as the eye 
could reach. This, for us, who were constrained to remain imprisoned, 
was like the punishment of Tantalus. On the evening of August 9th 
we had but five charges remaining. There were only ten yards' length 


of water in front ot the ship, which were not enough to allow her to 
move and bring her weight to bear upon the ice. Every possible 
means had been discussed to procure some new explosive. The 
rockets and the cartridges of the Very lights had been opened, and we 
had even tried experiments on the ice with sulphuric acid, but without 
any result. 

That day a stiff breeze set in from the east, and, on account of the 
force with which it drove the ice towards the open sea, there never had 

318 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

been such a favourable opportunity for making the channel from the 
outer part towards the cleared space. We took advantage of it to 
make a last attempt with a guncotton mine, into which five detonators 
were placed, one for every two cakes. The attempt succeeded. While 
the crew continued to break up the ice round the ship with their pick- 
axes, the mine was sprung near the edge of the ice which filled the 
bay. This time, great was our surprise, for the report of the mine 
was followed by the rumbling noise caused by all the snow-ridges, 
which came down, while the ice was broken in every direction round 
the mine for about fifty yards, and came up to the surface. 

All the men stopped working, and we immediately felt that our 
labours were nearly ended. If these fifty yards of ice had been blasted 
by a single mine, we might be able to bring the canal up to the ship 
with a few more, and, as the wind was in our favour, it would carry 
the broken ice out to sea without any effort on our part. It was then 
six o'clock in the evening. We went to supper, and then set to work 
again. Three more mines were enough to break the ice up to thirty 
yards from the ship, and it was speedily driven away by the wind. 
A last block of ice, thicker than the others, still separated her from 
the open water. A mine was sprung in it at half-past one in the 
morning, in the hope that it would complete the channel, but it did 
not produce as much effect as had been expected, and merely opened 
a deep cleft in the ice. The work was therefore suspended, to be 
taken up again next day, and we hoped that during the night the 
wind and the tide would clear away the ice-field. 

What we wished for occurred while we were taking a slight repast. 
Not only the ice in front of the ship, but also that to the north of the 
bay, driven by the wind, moved out to sea, taking with it the ship, 
which was held only by a small anchor. There was no danger of her 
being wrecked, but she might be carried far away from the bay. We 

The Ship is set Free 319 

immediately ran headlong, just as we were, some in slippers and some 
in shoes, to get on board before the ship got far from the beach, and 
ropes were thrown on shore, which were made fast to the rocks astern, 
and she was safely moored. All the ice round us, from the bottom of 
the bay to the sea, had moved away and left a splendid natural harbour 
at the place where we had undergone so many hardships. We returned 


to the tent after this stirring event, and that night rested peacefully, 
for we were now certain that nothing could hinder us from leaving, 
as the way was open, and all we had to do was to put on board the 
necessary provisions, the coal, and whatever else was wanted. We 
had, indeed, to make haste to depart, as there was but little time before 
us. In these last few days the sea had begun to freeze round the ship, 
as had been the case last year. 

320 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

That day was Sunday, and we rested. The next day (August 1 3th) 
we substituted the spare rudder for the one we had used. On the 
DC arturefrom mornm g f tne J 4 tn we loaded a part of the coal which 
TepiitzBay. had ^ Gn landed. I do not think that what we left on 
the beach will ever be found, as it had been put near the edge of the ice 
adhering to the shore, in a place where, during summer, the flow of 
water will drive it little by little into the sea. In the afternoon we 
made ready to bring the ship near the tent, in order to put provisions 
and the rest of our equipment on board, and to be ready to start as 
soon as the wind should set in from the west and threaten to cut off 
our retreat. But when we tried to move the ship, we found that 
she was stuck fast ; for the tide was low, and the coal, which had 
been stowed away at the stern, had made the keel rest on the rocks. 
We had, therefore, to wait till the tide rose to again float the Tolar 
Star, and, when the engines began to work, we had the satisfaction 
to see her strike against the ice in the channel, and come to her 
moorings a few hundred yards from the hut. Although the ship had 
suffered from the pressure of the ice, she was still sound. We felt as 
if we were already in Italy, and we did not even think how difficult 
it would be to reach Barentz Sea. That same evening we left the 
tent for good ; our beds were brought on board and put into the 
quarters newly fitted up by the carpenter. 

On August i fth, whatever remained in the tent, such as clothing, 
cooking utensils, etc., was embarked. In the afternoon provisions 
for eight months were taken. The work went on quickly, as the 
vessel was now moored in a place where the boxes could be put 
on board without requiring to be loaded on the launches and then 

I had intended remaining only the next day in order to take on 
board the sails and the spars of the tent, which would be of the utmost 

The Ship is set Free 


use to us in case the ice were to prevent us from reaching Cape Flora, 
or the engines were to break down. 

At six o'clock, the day, which had been cloudy, was followed by 
a splendid evening. A light breeze from the south-east had quite 
cleared the horizon. The continuity of these easterly breezes made me 
feel sure that our way to the south was open, and a steady wind would 
enable me to go forward even if I were to meet with ice. I therefore 
decided on leaving the bay. At half-past one in the morning of 


August 1 6th everything was ready, and we steamed slowly away from 
the shore, giving three cheers as we turned round the ice of the bay, 
which had held us so long imprisoned. But the sound of our voices 
recalled sad thoughts to our minds. Indeed, at that moment the memory 
of our comrades who were not going home with us was more vivid 
than ever. We had lost almost all hope of ever seeing them. Our 
looks turned towards the north, where, far away beyond the open 
water, it was only too probable that the ice hid the tombs of the brave 

VOL. I. 21 

322 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Querini, of the zealous Stokken, and of the faithful Oilier tombs 
which we should never be allowed to see, for the Arctic Ocean was a 
jealous custodian of its secrets. May the day at least be not far off 
when the mystery of the Arctic regions shall be revealed, and the 
names of those who have sacrificed their lives to it shine with still 
greater glory the day when a small band of men, subduing these 
inhospitable and repellent lands, shall avenge all the past sacrifices and 
the lives so sadly lost in this obstinate struggle, which has lasted for 
centuries ! 

We left some clothing packed up in boxes, a gun and some 
cartridges in the carpenter's hut, as well as provisions enough to support 
more than twenty persons for over a year, together with some things 
which belonged to the Polar Star but had not been brought back 
to the ship, as they were not absolutely wanted on board, such as 
petroleum, coal, and a launch. Of the dogs which remained, we took 
away with us only the strongest and those which had taken part in the 
sledge expedition. All the others were killed with the exception of 
the eight which we had spared (four males, two females, and two 
puppies born during the winter). They might, however, have been 
able to live for a long time by means of the provisions which lay 
scattered about, and might also, perhaps, have been of use to our 

Our Return to Cape Flora. Our Arrival in Norway 


IT was a beautiful morning ; there was no wind and the horizon 
was rather clear. We therefore hoped to be able to go 
speedily towards the south. The ice-pack was far away on the 
horizon, and around us, to north, south, and west, there we are stopped 

in British 

was open water, as there had been last year, and perhaps channel, 
even more, though the season of calms or of winds chiefly from the 
west had now gone by. 

During our stay on Prince Rudolph Island we had remarked 
how easily, both in summer and in winter, the ice receded towards 
the west in the space between Cape Saulen and Cape Mill, when the 
wind blew from the east. Jackson in his sledge expeditions had 
found belts of open water to the south of Cape Mill ; we there- 
fore supposed that, from British Channel to Cape Fligely, Queen 
Victoria Sea is always, or almost always, navigable in the summer. 
The general drift of the ice in the Arctic Sea to the west, and the 
wind, which is generally from the east, are the causes of this open 
water. The drift thins out the ice-fields of the belt between Cape 
Fligely, Cape Mary Harmsworth, and British Channel, and enables 
the wind to drive easily towards the west the vast masses of ice in 
contact with the islands. Thus may be explained the fact which I 
have often observed, that while to the north of Cape Fligely the 
ice-pack had only a slight movement, to the west of Prince Rudolph 

Island it moved away to the horizon in a few hours. 


326 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Our ship went on but slowly, as she still dragged with her large 
pieces of ice sticking to her side from the bow to the middle. They 
dropped away from the hull little by little, and our speed increased 
until it again reached six knots an hour. Gradually, too, the bay 
where we had lived for twelve months vanished from our eyes. 
First the rocks of Cape Saulen disappeared, then Cape Auk and 
Cape Brorok, while to the south we sighted Cape Clement Markham. 

The channel between Hohenlohe and Karl Alexander Islands 
was open, but the ice was not drifting from the channel towards 
the west, as was the case last year, which was a sign that to the 
east of Prince Rudolph Island the ice-pack was not as yet broken 
up. On approaching Karl Alexander Island we made out distinctly 
Cape Felder, seen by Payer in his first voyage, and Cape Brogger, 
seen by Nansen. A fog shut us in when we had got past Cape 
Brogger ; but we held on the same course until towards eight that 
evening, when we sighted Ommaney Island through the mist. 

Passing between Ommaney, Harley, and Neale Islands and the 
coast, we steered for Maria Elizabeth Island, intending to pass 
between it and the coast, as we had already done in the preceding 
year, but when we came near it we found that our course was stopped 
towards the east by ice. On the other hand, the ice-pack had this 
year gone away from the island. We changed our course to that 
direction, and held on towards the south in Queen Victoria Sea, which 
was free from ice. 

A stiff breeze had set in from the south-east, and our horizon 
was bounded by mist. From time to time belts ot ice were crossed, 

Drifting in which did not stop the progress of the ship. Towards 

British Channel. , , , , . , . L j i rv /~ i r ,. 

eight o clock in the evening we had left Queen Victoria 

Sea behind us, and sighted through the fog the northern coast 
of Prince George Land. The water seemed more open towards the 

Our Return to Cape Flora 


west, and, as it was impossible to see very far, we followed the 
direction which allowed us to advance most easily. But when we 
were at the height of Cape Murray, the sky suddenly cleared ; we 
discovered that we had entered a funnel, and, according as the 


distance became more clear, we saw all British Channel barred 
by the ice. 

It was impossible to steer to the west towards Alexandra Land. 
To the east were to be seen a number of lanes through the ice ; and 
though from the crow's-nest it was not easy to form a decided opinion, 
it seemed more advisable to continue to advance through the part of 
the channel by which we had passed in the preceding year, and which 
this year also seemed more easy. We therefore steered towards the 
east. The night had become very clear, which was very helpful to us 

328 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

as our course was continually checked when we were sailing from one 
channel to another. These were anxious moments, and our eyes were 
fixed on Captain Evensen, who spent weary hours in his post at the 
mast-head seeking to ascertain the best direction to follow. Just as 
we began to fear that we could advance no farther, it revived our 
hopes to hear the order given to the engines to go ahead. We thus 


came about four o'clock to- 'Eaton Island, where we were again en- 
veloped in fog, but remembering that the year before we had found 
open water in this locality, we thought that we had got over all 
our difficulties. The lanes here were wider, and open water was 
probably before us. We went ahead at full speed, as we were certain 
that we had left the ice behind us, but after going a short distance 
we were again stopped. We were not as yet in open water, but only 
in a very large channel. 

We waited all the morning in the fog, hoping that it would 
lift. When the distance became clear, we beheld a most discouraging 
sight. We were in a narrow channel off Hooker Island ; British 
Channel to the south, and Barentz Sea beyond it, were covered with 
ice. A ship could not now sail where last year there had been 
open navigable water. 

The wind had again set in steadily from the south-east ; it made 

Our Return to Cape Flora 329 

the ice-pack drift to the north-west, and we retreated slowly with 
it towards Eaton Island. There was a stiff breeze all night, which 


fell in the morning, and then blew gently from the north. The 
ice then ceased moving, and a few hours later began to move again 
to the south-east. We could not be mistaken. We were at the 
mercy of the ice, which, in its turn, was at the mercy of the winds. 

We passed the i8th and I9th in a small expanse of open 
water near Hooker Island. The place was full of life ; bears, white 
dolphins, narwhals, and seals afforded us some distraction in our 
prison. We saw a bear hunting a seal ; the bear followed the edge of 
the ice-field, hiding itself as much as possible, so as to be able to 
spring on the seal and seize it when it came near enough. The bear 
approached, little by little, to within fifty yards of , the ship, without 
perceiving that several of us were watching its movements with as 


much attention as it watched those of the seal ; and when it least 
expected it, we shot it. 

On the evening ot August I9th, as the weather turned out 
brighter, and the open water where we lay became more extended, 
we pushed on as far as we could to the south towards Cape Barentz. 
It was a splendid night lit up by the sun, and we saw around us 
Hooker, May, Etheridge, and Northbrook Islands. As it was then 

33 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

calm, the ice-fields were somewhat distant from each other, and the 
ship could advance slowly in the direction of Cape Barentz. 

Four hours of continuous effort brought us six or seven miles 
nearer to Northbrook Island. Captain Evensen's great experience 
was of much use to us. From the crow's-nest he selected at a glance, 
from among so many channels, that by which the ship could pass, 
examining them one by one till he could perceive a long stretch of 
open water. He made the ship cross continually from one side to 
the other; he stopped the engines, backed them or sent them full 
speed ahead, to break up small ice-floes, to force a way through them, 
and not remain shut in. Ships of short build, with slanting bows 
and powerful engines, are the best for this purpose. They can 
be more easily handled in a small space, are better adapted for 


breaking the ice, and if they cannot shatter it by striking against it, 
they rise upon it and break it with their weight. But even strongly 
built ships and powerful engines can only make their way through 
the open ice-pack ; when the pack is closed, there is nothing for it 
but to wait patiently, taking care not to lie in an unsafe position, where 
there might be danger of encountering the shock of two ice-fields. 

Our Return to Cape Flora 

33 1 

The power which is latent in an ice-field, either when it is exercising 
pressure or when resisting pressure, is nothing in comparison with 
that of masses of ice in motion. It is only by unceasing and 
intelligent watchfulness that mishaps can be avoided and a ship 
directed on her course. 


Although from the crow's-nest no open water could be seen 
to the south of Northbrook Island, we felt certain that if we 
reached Cape Barentz we could also reach Cape Flora. But 
towards midnight we were surrounded with ice on all sides, and 
could not stir. 

Our situation was very unsafe, especially with a ship the sides of 
which had already been weakened. Everything requisite to enable 
us to march to Cape Flora in case of necessity, such as provisions, 
tents, petroleum, clothes, arms and cartridges, were placed on the deck 

332 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

so as to be at hand in any emergency. We remained thus from the 
2Oth to the 23rd, drifting with the ice towards the north-west. On 
the evening of the 23rd there set in a stiff south-west wind, which was 
the worst of all winds for us, as it meant drifting quickly towards the 
north and greater pressure from the ice-fields, which, being squeezed 
between the islands and driven by the wind, would naturally become 
piled up at the entrance to the channel. The ice then began to drift 
towards the north-west, and about seven in the morning we were only 
two or three miles from Eaton Island. The ship was drifting towards 
three large icebergs stranded to the south of the island. The wind 
was blowing, snow was falling from time to time, and the ice, which 
was in motion on all sides, was pressing on the vessel. It was an 
anxious situation ; and, keeping the fires lighted and the pumps 
manned in case the water rose in the hold, we held ourselves in 
readiness for whatever might happen. 

The icebergs were three in number, standing at a few hundred 
yards from each other in the shape of a triangle, the middle one being 
the nearest to us. If we were carried against one of these colossal 
masses, we should be stopped and the side of our ship exposed to the 
pressure of the ice-pack, which was drifting with considerable speed 
towards the north. The ice-field, along with which we were drifting, 
was stopped at a few hundred yards from the nearest iceberg, but all 
the ice near us continued on its way northwards. Large and small 
ice-floes swept along rapidly past the sides of the Polar Star. It was 
a magnificent spectacle, but it rendered us uneasy. The loss of the 
vessel in the midst of this moving ice would have been a real disaster. 
For about an hour, by keeping the engines working, we held the ship 
up to the ice-field, against which it had been in contact until then, in 
the hope of finding protection from it ; but this could not last long. 
When Captain Evensen saw the ice-floes passing thus alongside the 


Our Return to Cape Flora 335 

ship, he thought of bringing her in among them and, while following 
them, trying to avoid the iceberg with the help of the engines. When 
he came to suggest this manoeuvre, I remained undecided. I, too, was 
aware that we could not stay long where we were, but in my opinion 
it would have hastened our destruction if we put ourselves in the 
power of this ice which was moving so rapidly. As I could not, 
however, suggest anything better, and as I saw that if we did not exert 


ourselves we should be soon upon the iceberg, I told the captain to 
carry out his plan. He then, taking advantage of the momentary 
formation round us of a space of open water, while the ice-field was 
breaking up in all directions under the pressure of the iceberg, brought 
the vessel by a rapid manoeuvre into the midst of the moving ice-floes. 
As they were less closely pressed together than they seemed to be, we 
were able to move away from the iceberg, and, carried along by the 
ice-floes, we soon left it behind us. We could just make out the 
second iceberg through the fog, and we steered so as to avoid it ; we 
succeeded in doing so by keeping the engines constantly working, and 

336 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

then entered a stretch of open water which extended almost a mile to 
the north of it. We then moored the ship to the iceberg, and went 
to take some rest for the first time for more than seventeen hours. 
We were now protected by the icebergs which had caused us so much 

The wind subsided during the night. The following day was 
very fine, but our position was no longer safe, for as the wind had 
ceased to drive the ice to the north, it "^filled the open water in which 
we had taken refuge. Towards evening the ice began to move south- 
wards, and a large ice-field which was carried by the current against 
the ship struck her violently, and made her heel over about twenty 
degrees. The blow was, luckily, abaft the beam, and the pressure 
made the ship glide forwards, thus freeing her from this dangerous 
situation. But other ice-floes were pressing on around us and were 
threatening to shut us in. We had therefore to let go our steel 
cable, leave the small anchor on the ice, and hasten away from the 
iceberg at full steam. A moment afterwards it was surrounded by 
the ice on all sides. 

We tried in vain that evening to reach Hooker Island, and look for 
an anchorage there, where we could wait till a favourable wind enabled 
us to come to Cape Flora, and we had to return to the only space of 
open water which was still in British Channel between the icebergs 
and Eaton Island. We passed a part of the night trying to avoid the 
pressure of the ice and making every effort not to be carried away 
to the north. As long as the weather was bright, we succeeded in 
accomplishing both our purposes, but when a fog came on, our task 
became impossible. We drifted away towards the north and sought 
for Eaton Island for some time without knowing where it was. 
When at last the fog lifted for a moment, the pale light of morning 
enabled us to return to the island, to the only place where there was 

Our Return to Cape Flora 


open water, and where we were at least sure of not drifting away. 
There we remained on the 26th and 2yth. 

Our position was very insecure, and during these two days there 
was a continual succession of alarms. The ice in British Channel near 
Eaton Island was in a state of perpetual unrest, and floated past the 
sides of the ship at the rate of one or two miles an hour. Ice-fields 
with a surface of several square miles, borne on by the current, grated 


against the ship. Some of these did not exercise any pressure ; others, 
which met some obstacle, turned round, and struck the sides of the 
Polar Star, driving her up against the coast. In one of these pressures 
against an iceberg which was near the beach, our ship met with some 
injuries to the wheel of the rudder and to the taffrail, which had no 
importants results, but which made us dread that at any moment 
some much more serious mishap might occur. 

I was already beginning to believe that, against my will, Eaton 

VOL. I. 


338 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

Island might prove to be our second winter quarters. The wind had 
set in from the north, yet, in spite of my hopes, no channel was 
opened towards the south, and without some channel, how could we 
reach Cape Barentz ? Masses of ice now drifted towards the south, 
with only a momentary delay in their progress, while on the previous 
days, when there was a calm, they had moved to north and south 
alternately, according to the tidal currents, which are very strong on 
the eastern side of the channel. This uninterrupted drift of the ice 
showed that it was moving out into Barentz Sea, and that to reach 
Cape Barentz we ought to try to get into the ice and let ourselves drift 
along with it. If the drift went rather quickly, we might be able 
to accomplish the twenty-five miles between Eaton Island and Cape 
Barentz in two or three days. The defect of this plan was, that if the 
wind veered to the south instead of continuing to blow from the north, 
we should be again driven back into the channel and probably be 
forced to pass the winter there. Our position, however, at Eaton 
Island was so insecure that it was better to leave it ; for in the 
neighbourhood of Cape Flora we were sure of finding a refuge if any 
misfortune happened to us in the midst of the drifting ice. 

On the evening of the 2yth we brought the ship into open water, 
to the west of the same island in the direction of Miers Sound. The 
wind was blowing from the north, and as the barometer was rather high, 
we hoped that there would be no change of weather. We then began 
a strange mode of travelling. The wind had freshened on the 28th, 
and on going on deck at mid-day I was not a little surprised to see 
Eaton Island on the horizon, while the northern end of Northbrook 
Island, which could hardly be made out on the previous evening, now 
rose high and distinctly. The ice-floes were certainly moving more 
quickly than I could have believed. It seemed at first as though the 
drift would have brought us into Miers Sound, but after having carried 

Our Return to Cape Flora 


us to the south-west on the 28th and during the following night, it 
made us follow the coast of Northbrook Island. 

We advanced rather rapidly on the 29th and the same night, 
without the slightest pressure, always driven by northerly winds, 
which were sometimes strong and sometimes light. Though we did 


not travel very fast, we made more than eight miles a day, and when, 
on the evening of the 3Oth, we were near Cape Barentz, we could feel 
certain that if the wind continued to blow from the same point, we 
should reach that cape on the following day. We passed an anxious 
night. A change of wind would mean that when just on the point of 
reaching our goal we should be again driven back into the channel, and 

340 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

be unable to leave it, and compelled to pass another winter in those 
regions, in a worse condition than in the previous year, and perhaps even 
lose the ship. We felt so uneasy that we came up on deck several times 
during the night. There was no sign that the north-west wind was 
going to fall, and we drew nearer and nearer to Cape Barentz. When 
morning came, we saw the ice-pack in Barentz Sea stretching away out 
of sight to the east and to the south. To the west, along Northbrook 
Island, the sea was quite free up to ten miles from land. 

Since the previous evening we had tried to advance gradually 
towards the open water near the cape, by taking advantage of every 
moment when the ice was less closely packed ; and on the morning of 
the 3ist, after keeping the engines working for several hours, we 
reached it. Our troubles were ended at last, and our return home, 
which had been hitherto so uncertain, was now only a question 
of days. 

We went on quickly towards Cape Flora. On arriving there, we 
felt agitated by the hope that we should find our lost comrades, and 
cape Flora ^ at some whaling vessel might have left dispatches. 

The Last Ice. ,-r-., , r r i i 

ihe rocks were now more free from snow than they were 
last year, and the crowds of birds and the verdure of the level ground 
where the huts stood made the place seem very beautiful in comparison 
with Teplitz Bay. A boat was sent on shore, but we could not find 
the slightest indication that our unfortunate comrades had ever 
been there. 

Since leaving Teplitz Bay, I could no longer cherish the illusion 
that the missing detachment might be at Cape Flora, but I had still a 
faint hope that in some unexpected manner they might have been 
helped to reach this spot, where was the only depot of provisions in 
the Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago. Five months had passed us 
since March 23rd, when our comrades had separated from the expedi- 

Our Return to Cape Flora 341 

tion. They would most certainly have reached Teplitz Bay if they had 
touched land at the northern part of the archipelago ; or Cape Flora, 
if they had been carried away towards Alexandra Land ; or, what is 
very improbable, towards Wilczek Land. If one considers that Jackson, 
accompanied by one man and five dogs, was able, in the month of 
May, to reach Cape Flora from Cape Mary Harmsworth in eighteen 
days, and that this cape is the most westerly of the group, it is 
evident that if our comrades had touched Alexandra Land, or Albert 
Edward, Harmsworth, Salisbury, or Hall Lands, which are com- 
prised within the same radius of eighty miles, they would have been 
able to push on as far as Cape Flora. They could not have lived 
for five months upon the ice-pack with the provisions and the dogs 
which they had, and if any unusual movement of the ice had carried 
them to the south towards Alexandra or Wilczek Land, they would 
have come there in the month of April, when the frozen channels and 
fiords would have allowed them to advance quickly to Cape Flora. 

The only conclusion, which seemed, indeed, to be inevitable, was 
that they probably never reached Emperor Franz Josef Archipelago, from 
which they were only forty-five miles distant. It is useless to attempt 
to seek why they failed to return. I have believed from the first 
that the disappearance of that detachment was owing to some acci- 
dental cause, but as it is very difficult to make any suppositions 
regarding it, I shall not attempt any. 

We were much pleased to find in Jackson's hut a packet of letters 
brought by the Capella on July ijth. We all received good news ; the 
latest newspapers were eagerly read ; while I went with Captain Evensen 
to the summit of the mountain, to see what might be the best direc- 
tion to follow towards the south. From Cape Barentz, the white line 
of the ice-pack was seen stretching towards the west at more than ten 
miles from the coast. From Miers Sound and Nightingale Sound 

342 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

there issued strips of ice floating away to the south. From the colour 
of the sky, this ice seemed to be impenetrable towards the south and 
south-east. Towards the south-west, on the contrary, the very dark 
tint of the sky at the horizon was an indication that in that direction 
there were vast belts of open water, 

We landed clothes and beds for the missing detachment, which 
would also find the provisions left in the preceding year, which were 
sufficient to feed twenty men for eight months ; we also left letters to 
state that a ship would be sent out in the following summer, and on 
the same evening we continued our journey, which had been interrupted 
for a few hours by this stoppage. We passed through the strips of 
ice which came out of Miers Sound and Nightingale Sound, and then 
at the height of Cape Grant we changed our course to nearly south- 
south-west, which soon took us away from the coast, while we met 
only a few ice-floes. The weather had then become cloudy, and rain 
and fog followed each other at intervals. Towards seven o'clock on 
the following morning the ship began to pitch slightly, and this move- 
ment, which gradually became stronger, was a sign that we had got 
clear of the ice-pack. 

Ice could still be seen from time to time to the west ; sometimes 
near to us and sometimes far away out of our course, which was now 
directed to Cape North. 

On September 2nd stormy weather had set in from the west, and 
we had belts of ice again in our neighbourhood. It would have been 
easy to cross them, if the weather had been clear and calm ; but, 
enveloped as we were in a fog, with a tempestuous wind which caused 
a heavy sea, and in a pitch dark night, it was no easy matter to find 
our way to the south. That day we had tried to cross one of these 
strips in that stormy sea, and we had found ourselves in the midst of 
huge masses of ice which at one moment rose on the waves as high as 

Our Arrival in Norway 


the deck, and at another sank into the depths of the sea ; tons of ice 
struck us on all sides, and for some time we were very uneasy. The 
ship was stopped on entering this strip of ice, and we were subjected 
to the blows of these floating masses, which made our propeller run 
some danger. On escaping from this difficult position and getting 


back into open water, we did not forget the lesson we had received, 
and we went on that evening with great circumspection, lest we should 
again meet with a similar adventure. It was the last farewell of the 
ice-pack, and it was for all of us our last sleepless night. We followed 
the strip of ice towards the east, looking for an opening which might 
allow the ship to cross it, and from ten at night till nearly two next 

344 O n the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

morning we drew near the ice every now and then, only to go 
away from it again. At last, about two o'clock, we entered a belt 
which was tolerably practicable, and, after crossing it, we were again 
in open water. The storm subsided towards morning, and as 
the light returned, we saw nothing but the sea round us as far as 
the horizon. 

The rest of our voyage was easy, and we came in sight of the 
rugged mountains of Norway on the morning of the 5th. We all felt 
Arrival at sac ^ on see i n g again the continent of Europe, as we 

Hammerfest. ,11. c ^\ i j ^ ^u 

thought more or the news we had to communicate than 
of that we were going to receive. The letters we had found at Cape 
Flora had reassured us with regard to all who were dear to us, but in 
a few hours our telegrams would spread both joy and grief. Near the 
anchorage of Hammerfest a ship, the Hcrtha, came to meet us. I 
recognised on board the Cavaliere Silvestri, who was the last to bid me 
good-bye when I left, and was now the first to greet me on the part 
of my distant country. Alas ! it was not to greet me, but to make 
known to me a death. A cruel destiny had wounded my dearest, 
feelings on the same day that my heart was grieved to be obliged to 
inform three familes that their gallant sons had disappeared. 

Going on to Tromso, I sent from thence on the morning of 
the 6th the following telegrams to His Majesty the King of Sweden 
and Norway, and to His Majesty King Victor Emmanuel III. : 


" The Polar Star has arrived. Captain Cagni has reached 
86 34' N. lat. I deeply regret the loss of the Norwegian Stokken, 
and of two Italians who formed part of the sledge expedition, and did 
not return to the ship. The help afforded me by the Norwegian 
members of the expedition augments my sympathy for the Norwegian 


Our Arrival in Norway 345 

people. May your Majesty deign to accept the homage of the 
members of the expedition." 


" The Polar Star has arrived, and goes on to Tromso and 
Christiania. She passed through British Channel last summer, went 
beyond Cape Fligely in Prince Rudolph Island, and came down to pass 
the winter in Teplitz Bay, in 81 47' N. lat. On September 8th a 
strong pressure of the ice crushed the ship, and caused much leakage. 
Being unable to keep down the water, we abandoned the ship. We 
built a hut on the shore with the spars, the sails, and the tents, in 
which we passed the winter very well. At the beginning of the year 
the ends of two fingers of my right hand were obliged to be ampu- 
tated on account of frost-bite. I left the command of the sledge 
expedition to Cagni. It set out on February 2Oth. The intense cold 
forced it to return after two days. It left again, under Cagni, on 
March iith, and was composed of Querini, Cavalli, the engineer of 
the ship, two Italian sailors, four guides, thirteen sledges, and 104 
dogs. Three Norwegians helped them for the first two days. The 
first detachment, composed of Querini, the engineer, and a guide, was 
sent back after twelve days' march, and never returned to the hut. 
The second detachment, composed of Cavalli, a sailor, and a guide, 
was sent back after twenty days' march, and arrived at the hut in 
excellent health on April i8th. Cagni pushed on to the north with 
two guides and a sailor until April 25th, and reached 86 34' N. lat. 
A strong drift of the ice and the want of food made the return of 
this detachment difficult and laborious. For several weeks it fed on 
its dogs, and reached the hut on June 25th, after passing 104 
days on the ice-pack. Petermann Land and King Oscar Land do 
not exist. The Polar Star was held up by the ice, and did not sink. 

346 On the Polar Star in the Arctic Sea 

A faint hope of saving her had made us undertake at the end of 
autumn whatever measures were most necessary to repair her ; they 
were continued in July, and after many efforts I succeeded in floating 
her on August 8th, We left Teplitz Bay on the i6th. We were 
blocked up by the ice in British Channel for fourteen days. We 
reached Cape Flora on August 3ist, and Hammerfest to-day. Querini 
was sent back by Cagni while still within sight of Prince Rudolph 
Island. The weather was cold, but fine, during the following days, 
the ice was in contact with the coast, and everything was exceptionally 
favourable to his return. It is with great grief that I must suppose 
that his loss and that of his two men must have been caused by some 
accidental mishap. The steadfast courage and determination manifested 
by the leader of the sledge expedition and by all those who composed 
it, in spite of immense hardships, assured its success, and acquired 
fresh glory for our country, by making its flag wave at the highest 
latitude which has hitherto been reached. All present are in excellent 
health. May your Majesty deign to accept the loyal homage of all the 
members of the expedition." 



Abruz/i, the Duke of the, 28 ; gets frost- 
bitten, 174, 227; mishap to, 219; his 
excursion to Cape Rohlfs, 226 ; his 
suggestions for reaching the North 
Pole, 272 

Advances made by Polar Star, 78 ; home- 
wards, 339 

Aeronautic outfit and cost, 36, 38 
Alert, the, expedition of, 6, u, 91 
Alexandra Land, 55, 65, 67, 69 
Alpine guides, advantages of, 28 
Anchorage, first, in the Arctic regions, 60 
Andresen, Andreas, 29 ; takes a search 

party, 248, 256 
Animal life, 329 

Arctic Sea, general ice-drift in, 325 
Arms taken, 32, 168 ; for sledge expedition, 


Assurance of lives of expedition, 39 
Aurora borealis, 156, 167 and note 
Austro-Hungarian North Polar expedition, 
53, 96 

Balloons, suggested use of, 34, 38, 144, 165 ; 

shape of, 34-5 ; apparatus for, 36 
Barentz Sea, 12, 56, 67 
Bates Sound, 63 
Bears, 107, 236 ; hunting, 107 ; 'incidents, 

80, 230, 258 
Bell Island, 60, 66 
Bird life, 106, 224, 258, 265, 296 

Blasting, ice : operations, 304 ; changes in, 

British Channel, 56, 64, 67, 69 ; ice-fields in, 

80, 86, 326 
Bruce Island, 66-7 ; ice-fields in, 73 

Cagni, Commander Umberto, 27, 28, 64 ; 
makes balloon experiments, 35 ; takes 
command of sledge expedition, 189; 
makes a sledge excursion, 198 ; makes 
a first start, 201 ; unexpected return of, 
206 ; letter from, 244 ; speculations re- 
garding, 258, 261 ; anxiety regarding, 
261; return of, 266; achievement of, 
266 ; march of, 270 

Cambridge Bay, 68 

Camp-making, 139 

Canepa, Simone, 29 

Canoes, usefulness of, 278 

Cape Auk, 106 

Cape Fligely, 1 8, 96 and note, 97, 98 and 
note, I I3-T4, 1 17, 200 

Cape Flora, 12, 16, 54, 60-61 ; return to, 

Cape Forbes, 68 

Cape Germania, 98, 1 17 

Cape Gertrude, 60 

Cape Grant, 68, 69 

Cape Habermann, 1 14 

Cape Mary Harmsworth, 55 ; failure to 
advance to, 67 



Cape Rohlfs, 202 

Cape Saulen, 98, 101 

Cape Sherard Osborn, 1 14 

Cape Tegethoff, 61 

Capella, the, 61-2 ; meeting, 83 

Cardenti, Giacomo, 29 ; adventures of, 


Cavalli Molinelli, Dr. A., 27-8 
Channel-making, 103, 241, 294, 301, 309-10 
Choice of men, 284 ; of dogs, 284 
Christiania, departure from, 40 
Christmastide in Arctic regions, 40 
Clement Markham Bay, 67 
Clothing taken, 31, 154, 187; cost of, 36; 

suggested, 280 
Coal, 36, 135 and note; consumption of, 


Compasses carried, 87 
Cooking, 135 
Cooking-stoves, 185, 280 
Cost of expedition in detail, 36 
Currents" in Arctic Ocean, 9 
Crew, composition of, 24-6 ; choice of, 26, 

28 ; Norwegian, 28 ; cost of, 36 
Crow's-nest of whalers, 58 (note) 

Dahl, Hans Magnus, 30 

Daylight, disappearance of, 156; reappear- 
ance of, 193 

De Bruyne Sound, 64, 91 

Departure from Norway, 36; from Europe, 
49 ; of sledge expedition, 201 

Depots, proposed, 15, 16, 17 

Detachment, first : uneasiness about, 230, 
256 ; hopes regarding, 340 ; provision 
for, 342 ; loss of, 346 

Detachment, second : unexpected return of, 
241 ; achievements of, 246 

Detachment, third : return of, 269 ; appear- 
ance of, 269 

Detachments of sledge expedition, arrange- 
ment of, 15, 2co ; arrangement altered, 

Diary of life during absence of sledge ex- 
pedition, 219 

Distances covered by Baron Wrangell, 12 ; 
Captain Cagni, 271 ; Lieutenant Peary, 
13 ; Nansen, 13-14 

Dogs, sledge: use of, 9, 12, 21, 34, 46; 
ration for, 14, 38, 74, 182 ; places of 
origin, 21, 43-4; cost of the, 36; first 
view of the, 42 ; description of the, 42- 
6 ; condition at departure, 43 ; Siberian, 
44, 285 ; appearance of, 44 ; training 
of, 45, 167 ; accommodation of the, 47, 
and bears, 107-8 ; at Teplitz Bay, 108 ; 
kennels of, on ice, 109; ways of, no; 
harness of, 112, 115 ; hardships of the, 
152 ; shelter for the, 160-61 ; trying the, 
168; health of the, 198, 261; best 
variety of, 199 ; births of, 200; brought 
back, 322 

Eaton Island, 84 

Eira expedition, the, 53, 62, 63 

Emperor Franz Josef Land, 12, 16; history 

of expeditions to, 18, 53-6, 60, 92, 102, 

Equipment for sledge expedition, 32 ; 

defects of, 276 
Equipment, scientific, 32-3 ; aeronautic, 36 ; 

photographic, 36 
Equipment, state of, third detachment, 


Eva Island, 114 
Evensen, Captain, 22, 28, 29 
Excursions, sledge, necessity of, 285 
Expeditions, Arctic : 

Nordenskiold, 3 

Parry, Commander, 3 

Phipps, Commander C. J., 3 

Nares, Commander, 6 

Greely, Lieutenant A. W., 7, 24 

Nansen, 8 

Leigh Smith, 53 



Expeditions, Arctic (continued] : 
Payer, 53, 96 
Jackson, 54 
Results of, 3, 5, 6, 8 
Experience necessary for, 24 

Fenoillet, Alessio, 29 

Finsko, 31, 280 

Eogs, 75, 87, 89 

Food, 30, 74 

Fram, the, in the Arctic Sea, 10, 91 

Frost-bite, 173-4, 188, 204 

Fungi, 105 

Gini, Gino, 30 

Glaciers, 105, 172 

Greely's (Lieutenant A. W.) Arctic expedi- 
tion, 7 ; data as to rations, 180 

Greenland, 13 and note, 276 

Greenland dogs, 21 

Guides, Alpine, for sledge expedition, 28, 
29, 283 

Guncotton used, 304, 310 

Hammerfest, arrival at, 344 
Hansen, Carl Christian, 30 
Harness, dogs', 188, 282 
Health of the expedition, 150 
Helmet, suggested, 281 
History, short, of Arctic voyages, 3 
Hummocks, 58 and note 
Hut, first, built, 130; sections of, 133 
temporary, 228 

Ice action in Teplitz Bay, in, 291 

Ice-axes, 282 

Icebergs, 61 and note, 64, 78, 82, 87, 332 

Ice, blasting, 32, 303 

Ice, breaking of, 205, 212, 304 

Ice-drifts, 5, 9, 64, 198, 338 

Ice-drill, 301 and note 

Ice-fields, 58, 66 ; formation of, 4, 78, 102 ; 

in Nightingale Sound, 68; near Bruce 

Island, 73 ; in British Channel, 75 ; 

vagaries of, 77 ; in general, 296, 302, 

329, 326 

Ice, first sight of, 57 
Ice-floes, 59, 60, 332 
Ice, indications of, 41, 60 and note 
Ice-pack, 58 and note, 68, lor, no, 121, 

153, 214, 219, 225, 235, 248, 257, 274 
Ice, shifting broken, 313 
Independence Bay, 13 (note) 
Indications of ice, 60 (note) 
Instruments, scientific, 18, 32, 33, 155-6; 

care of, 190 ; suggested, 282 ; for sledge 

expedition, 186-7 

Jackson's Arctic expedition, 54, 60, 341 ; 
encampment, 62 

Jason, the, afterwards Polar Star, 21 ; 
alterations to, 22; boats of, 22; cost 
of purchase and overhaul, 36 

Johansen, Johan, 30 

Johansen, Ole, 30 

Kayaks, 165 and note, 182, 278 
King Oscar Land, 56, 114, 345 
Kitchen, camp, 135 and note 
Koettlitz Island, 88 
Komagcr, 31 

Lamps, 185 

Larvik, 22 

Latitudes reached by Nansen and the 
Fram, 13 (note) 

Lockvvood's (Captain J. B.) sledge expedi- 
tion, 7, 8 (note) 

Look-out of Polar Star, 58-9 



Mabel Islands, 60 

Maria Elizabeth Island, 89, 90 

Markham's (Commander ,A. H.) sledge 

expedition, 6, 7 (note), 272 
Medical department, 28; outfit and cost, 


Members of the expedition, list of, 28 
Miers Sound, 63 
Migration of birds, 140 
Mines, springing, 83, 121, 303, 318 ; powder, 

Molinelli, Dr. A. Cavalli, 27-8 

Nansen's (Professor) Arctic expedition, 8, 
10 (note), 56, 90 ; plan, tribute to, 10, 
u, 40; latitudes reached, 13 (note); 
data as to rations, 181 

Nares's (Commander) Arctic expedition, 6 ; 
data as to rations, 180 

New Year festivities, 175 

Nightingale Sound, 63, 64, 66 ; return to, 
68, 91 

Nordenskiold's (Baron) Arctic expedition, 3 

North Pole, possibility of reaching, 272 

Northbrook Island, 16, 60, 67 

Novaya Zemlya, 56 

Observations, scientific, 27, 32, 293 ; pendu- 
lum, 64, 156 ; from latitude 80 4', 95 ; 
difficulties of, 154 

Officers of Polar Star, 27 

Olausen, Ditman, 30 

Oilier, Felice, 29 

Order of the day, aboard Polar Star, 74 ; 
under canvas, 149, 260 

Packing food, system of, 30 
Packing sledge outfit, 182 
Payer's Arctic expedition, 53, 96, 1 14 
Peary, Lieutenant, 13 

Peary's (Commander) Arctic expedition, 3-5 

Pemmican, 180 and note 

Petermann Land, 56, 114, 345 

Petigax, Giuseppe, 29 

Petroleum taken, 38, 135 and note, 136 ; 
ration of, 181 

Phipps's (Commander C. J.) Arctic explora- 
tion, 3 

Photographic outfit and cost, 36 

Plan of the expedition : conditions govern- 
ing, 10, 14-15, 17; drawbacks to, 15; 
advantages of, 1 6 

Point of advance of Polar Star, 56 

Polar night, the, 159 

Polar regions, experience necessary for 
navigating, 24 

Polar Star, formerly Jason : dimensions 
of, 21-2; fittings, 22-3; boats, 22; ac- 
commodation, 22 ; pumps of, 23, ditto 
at work, 123, 127, 144; shape of, 23; 
crew of, 24-6 ; longitudinal section 
of, 26 ; deck plan of, 26 ; officers' 
quarters, 27, shelter on, 23 ; Italian 
officers of, 27, cabins of, 23 ; cost of 
purchase and overhaul, 36 ; in dock, 
37 ; stowage aboard, 37 ; ice obstruc- 
tion, 41, 76; use of mines, 83, 121; 
beset by ice, etc., 122; springs a leak, 
123; abandonment of, 130; salvage 
work, 143 ; damages by ice, 146-7 
(note); mending leakage of, 148; ex- 
tricating, 263, 289 ; rights herself, 316 ; 
drifts in British Channel, 327 

Polaris, the, 91 

Preparations for expedition, 37 

Pressure, ice, first, 75 ; in Teplitz Bay, no 

Prince Rudolph Island, 12, 91, 96, 98, 325; 
glaciers of, 105, 116; fungi of, 105; 
geology, 1 06, capes of, 106 ; birds of, 
106 ; excursion to, 112; camps on, 115; 
ice-movement on, 116; stratification of, 



Provisions, choice of, 30 ; system adopted 
with, 30; cost of, 36 ; landing, 62, 124, 

Queen Victoria Sea, 16, 56, 67, 69, 80, 325 
Querini, Lieutenant Francesco, 27, 28, 
78, 107 ; sledge detachment, 246 ; non- 
return of, 256, 289 

Ration, daily : for men, sledge expedition, 
14, 164, 282 ; details of, 180; for dogs, 


Records for North Polar exploration, 7 
Results of early Arctic expeditions, 3, 5, 6, 8 
Return of Polar Star, difficulties of, 328, 

Route of advance of Polar Star, 64 

Salisbury Island, 90 

Sastri(g, \ 54 (note) 

Saucepans used, 185 

Savoie, Cipriano, 29 

Schley, Commander, 24 

Scientific observations, 27, 32 ; equipment 
and cost of, 32, 36 

Season, best, for Arctic travel, 13, 14 

Selection of men, 284 ; of dogs, 284 

Scurvy, fears of, 262 

Ships, best, for Polar voyages, 330 

Ski, 262 

Sledge expedition, arrangement of, 16, 27, 
165, 213, altered, 207 ; plan of the, 17, 
changes to, 163, 225, 244; supplies for 
the, 17; proposed objects of the, 18; 
cost of the, 36; preparation for, 179, 
197; composition of, 204, 211; unex- 
pected return of, 206 ; defects in, 207 ; 
dangers of, 213; iinal departure of, 

Sledges, weights of, 14, 273; description of, 
183, 214; defects of, 276 

Sledges, Jackson's, 55 

Sleeping-bags, 184-5, 2 7& 

Smith's (Mr. Leigh) Arctic expedition, 53 

Snowdrift, 154, 255 

Sources of assistance for the expedition, 33 

Spitzbergen, 56 

Staff of Polar Star, 28 ; cost of, 36 

Stokken, Henrik Alfred, 29 

Stoppages of Polar Star, 58, 68, 88-9 ; on 

return, 326, 331 
Stores, disembarking, 124; re-embarking, 


Storms, 190 

Stowage aboard Polar Star, 37 
Sulphuric acid taken, 36, 38 
Summary of the expedition, 345-6 
Sun, observations of the, 220, 251 
Sundries, cost of, for expedition, 36 
Supplies taken, 30 
System, best, of approaching North Pole, 1 1 

Telegram, the Duke's, to King Oscar of 
Sweden, 344 ; to the King of Italy, 


Temperature, 74, 112, 135, 138, 140, 153, 
168, 174-5, 191-2, 202, 204, 221-4, 
236, 248, 298 ; for a year at Teplitx 
Bay, 298 

Tents taken, 32, 130, 184 and note; con- 
structed, 134, 135-6, 135-9, 252, in 
summer, 291 

Teplitz Bay, 98, 102; state of ice in, 118, 
139; camp at, 139; migration of birds 
from, 140; aspect in February, 197; 
temperature for a year at, 298 ; leaving, 

Tide-gauge, 221, 223 

Torgrinsen, Anton, 29 

Transport, cost of, 36 

Travel, Arctic : chief obstacle 10,14; aver- 
age per day, 14 

Trontheim, Alexander Ivanov, 43 



Visitors to the Polar Star, 48 

Walruses, 66 

Weather, 64, 75, 139, 151, 173, 208, 221, 
237, 252, 342 ; summef, 292 

Wellman's Arctic Expedition, 61, 86; com- 
panions, 86 

White Land, 56, 222 

White Sea, 41 

Winds, 60, 64, 75, 121, 153, 166, 208, 222, 

247, 252, 332 
Windward, the, 54, 68 
Winter quarters, 16, 103 ; preparation of, 

Work, aboard the Polar Star, 74 ; at Tep- 

litz Bay, 138, 224 
Wra'ngell, Baron, 12, 44 

Printed by Hazclt, Watson 6^ Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury. 








Luigi, Duke of the Abruzzi 

On the "Polar Star" in the 
Arctic Sea,