FROM 2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Eerie echoes

Other uncanny reflections of the past – Doug Morrison sent me a sheaf of papers from his research into the French and other explorers, amongst which were James Clark Ross' chart and soundings for the Baie, possibly compiled by Francis Crozier. I used this to find the spot to anchor. There were also detailed drawings from out to sea of the entrance and the arch, now collapsed, by R Benard (I think – can't read Doug's writing) published in 1784. Benard was with Cook. I used them to identify the entrance from 5 miles out. I could not read the photocopy of his soundings chart so I used Ross'.

There was also an engraving of the harbour in Ross' account, showing Erebus and Terror at anchor, one of them almost in the same position as we are now. They too went to the NW passage with Franklin ten years or so later and they are still there, somewhere off King William Island with the bones of their crews. We felt the presence of their ghosts up there, particularly in Simpson Strait. I never imagined we'd meet them again, let alone here, almost at the opposite end of the planet.

Wonderful to have it all with us, Doug. Thanks!

When we set off from Cape Town, I thought that Kerguelen might be a bridge too far. Boneheadedness sometimes wins out. So, a Talisker this evening, courtesy of Pete Goss.

More tomorrow.

One comment on “Eerie echoes

  1. barko on said:

    Your account of the stopover at the Baie de l'Oiseau is wonderful. I have sent it on to my French correspondents (Pierre Bérard in Albi, Rochegude's birthplace, and Claude Parent, the Lepaute Dagelet enthusiast, since Dagelet landed with Rochegude at the Baie de l'Oiseau on that day). Will you have photos of the occasion? With congratulations and best wishes,Ivan Barko, Sydney (Doug Morrison's co-author of the Dagelet-Dawes article).