SCOTT & The South-Pole

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6 - "The Voyage To New Zealand"

In 1909, the Terra Nova was bought for the sum of £12,500 to be used by Scott in his second expedition to the Antarctic. Before she left the British Iles, she was reinforced "from bow to stern with seven feet of oak."13 Further, it would appear, her bow was clad in metal (Scott referred to her "iron-shod prow").

The Terra Nova left London the first of June, 1910. She was bound for the Antarctic with stops in between.14 Touching at Madeira, she voyaged south through the Atlantic Ocean to arrive at South Africa; then out over the Indian Ocean to arrive at Australia; then on to New Zealand. She travelled a great distance to arrive at her stepping-off point. There then occurred great activity as the ship and the men prepared for their voyage, south.

Oates & Ponies Aboard The Terra Nova

"When the ship came out of dock she presented a scene of great industry. Officers and men of the ship, with a party of stevedores, were busy storing the holds. Miller's men were building horse stalls, caulking the decks, re-securing the deck-houses, putting in bolts and various small fittings. The engine-room staff and Anderson's people on the engines; scientists were stowing their laboratories; the cook refitting his galley, and so forth -- not a single spot but had its band of workers. ...
Under the forecastle are stalls for fifteen ponies, the maximum the space would hold; the narrow irregular space in front is packed tight with fodder. ...
The appearance of confusion on deck is completed by our thirty-three dogs chained to stanchions and bolts on the ice-house and on the main hatch, between the motor sledges."
Food for the ponies weighed upwards to 50 tons: consisting of hay, bran, crushed oats and oil-cake (compressed seeds left after pressing out so much of the oil as can be extracted). For the dogs: 5 tons of dog biscuits.

Scott wrote of the Terra Nova: "... a wonderfully fine ice ship. ... As she bumped the floes with mighty shocks, crushing and grinding a way through some, twisting and turning to avoid others, she seemed like a living thing fighting a great fight." And another point in his journal, Scott wrote:

"The ship behaved splendidly -- no other ship, not even the Discovery, would have come through so well. Certainly the Nimrod would never have reached the south water had she been caught in such pack. As a result I have grown strangely attached to the Terra Nova. As she bumped the floes with mighty shocks, crushing and grinding a way through some, twisting and turning to avoid others, she seemed like a living thing fighting a great fight. If only she had more economical engines she would be suitable in all respects."

"Below one knows all space is packed as tight as human skill can devise -- and on deck! Under the forecastle fifteen ponies close side by side, seven one side, eight the other, heads together and groom between -- swaying, swaying continually to the plunging, irregular motion. ...
Upon the coal sacks, upon and between the motor sledges and upon the ice-house are grouped the dogs, thirty-three in all. They must perforce be chained up and they are given what shelter is afforded on deck, but their position is not enviable. The seas continually break on the weather bulwarks and scatter clouds of heavy spray over the backs of all who must venture into, the waist of the ship. The dogs sit with their tails to this invading water, their coats wet and dripping. It is a pathetic attitude, deeply significant of cold and misery; occasionally some poor beast emits a long pathetic whine. The group forms a picture of wretched dejection; such a life is truly hard for these poor creatures."

Cherry described the scene:
"But the scene on the morning of Saturday, November 26, baffles description. There is no deck visible: in addition to 30 tons of coal in sacks on deck there are 2½ tons of petrol, stowed in drums which in turn are cased in wood. On the top of sacks and cases, and on the roof of the ice-house are thirty-three dogs, chained far enough apart to keep them from following their first instinct—to fight the nearest animal they can see: the ship is a hubbub of howls. In the forecastle and in the four stalls on deck are the nineteen ponies, wedged tightly in their wooden stalls, and dwarfing everything are the three motor sledges in their huge crates, 16´ x 5´ x 4´, two of them on either side of the main hatch, the third across the break of the poop. They are covered with tarpaulins and secured in every possible way, but it is clear that in a big sea their weight will throw a great strain upon the deck. It is not altogether a cheerful sight. But all that care and skill can do has been done to ensure that the deck cargo will not shift, and that the animals may be as sheltered as possible from wind and seas. And it's no good worrying about what can't be helped."


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Peter Landry