February 1-7, 1913: The Terra Nova homeward bound

–from Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s account “The Worst Journey in the World”–

“The Terra Nova is a wood barque, built 1884 by A. Stephen and Sons, Dundee; tonnage 764 gross and 400 net; measuring 187′ x 31′ x 19” compound engines with two cylinders of 140 nominal horse-power; registered at St. Johns Newfoundland. She is therefore not by any means small as polar ships go, but Pennell [captain of the ship] and his men worked her shorthanded [returning to New Zealand from Cape Evans in 1912], with bergs and growlers all round them, generally with a big sea running and often in darkness or fog. On this occasion [the final return of the expedition in 1913] we were spared many of the most ordinary dangers.

“It was summer. Our voyage was an easy one. There was twilight most of the night; there were plenty of men on board, and heaps of coal Imagine then what kind of time Pennell and his ship’s company had in late autumn, after remaining in the south until only a bare ration of coal was left for steaming, until the sea was freezing round them and the propeller brought up dead as they tried to force their way through it.

“Pennell was a very sober person in his statements, yet he described the gale throught which the Terra Nova passed through on her way to New Zealand in March 1912 as seeming to blow the ship from the top of one wave to the top of the next; and the bergs were all around them.”

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