February 1-7, 1913: “A Week’s Gale in Commonwealth Bay!”

–John King Davis, captain of Aurora, quoted in Mawson’s “The Home of the Blizzard”–

“A week’s gale in Commonwealth Bay!  The seven days which followed I do not think any of us will forget.  From the 1st to the 7th of February it blew a continuous heavy gale, interrupted only when the wind increased to a full hurricane.

“We endeavoured to maintain a position under the cliffs where the sea had not room to become heavy.  This entailed a constant struggle, as, with a full head of steam during the squalls, the vessel drove steadily seaward where the rising waves broke on board and rendered steering more difficult.  Then, when it had moderated to a mere ‘howl,’ we could crawl back only to be driven back again by the next squall.  The blinding spray which was swept out in front of the squalls froze solidly on board encasing the blocks and tackle and so lending additional difficulty to the operation of ‘wearing ship.’

“It was on this occasion that we realized what a fine old vessel the Aurora was. . . .”

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