Friday, December 29, 2017

Spending Christmas with Captain Bob Bartlett Dec. 29, 1913

...As soon as it was light on the twenty-ninth I kept a sharp eye out for land; south by west, by the compass, I could see a blue cloud raised up on the horizon. According to the soundings we should have been nearer Wrangell Island than Herald Island; I was inclined to think that it was Herald Island, although working out our position with our chronometer readings gave us Herald Island sixty miles to the south. Afterwards I found out that our observations at this time were correct but that the soundings were not right on the chart. What deceived us more than anything else was the big mirage; Herald Island looked large and distorted for many days. Later in the day I went aloft to see if I could make out which island it really was but on account of the imperfect light I found it impossible to tell.

Some time during the night the ice cracked about a hundred yards from the ship and made an open ribbon of water ten inches wide; during the next day the young ice was cracking a good deal all around us....

This excerpt is from The Last Voyage of the Karluk An Epic of Death and Survival in the Arctic, 1913-1916 as related by her captain, Robert A. Bartlett and here set down by Ralph T. Hale (published in 1916 by Small, Maynard and Company, Inc.; unabridged audio edition narrated by Frank Holden published by Rattling Books). 

As the fifth night of Christmas approaches may there be no cracks in the ice around you.