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Scott's Last Expedition

The Final Preparations in New Zealand

The first three weeks of November have gone with such a rush that I have neglected my diary and can only patch it up from memory.

The dates seem unimportant, but throughout the period the officers and men of the ship have been unremittingly busy.

On arrival the ship was cleared of all the shore party stores, including huts, sledges, &c. Within five days she was in dock. Bowers attacked the ship’s stores, surveyed, relisted, and restowed them, saving very much space by unstowing numerous cases and stowing the contents in the lazarette. Meanwhile our good friend Miller attacked the leak and traced it to the stern. We found the false stem split, and in one case a hole bored for a long-stem through-bolt which was much too large for the bolt. Miller made the excellent job in overcoming this difficulty which I expected, and since the ship has been afloat and loaded the leak is found to be enormously reduced. The ship still leaks, but the amount of water entering is little more than one would expect in an old wooden vessel.

Terra Nova

The stream which was visible and audible inside the stern has been entirely stopped. Without steam the leak can now be kept under with the hand pump by two daily efforts of a quarter of an hour to twenty minutes. As the ship was, and in her present heavily laden condition, it would certainly have taken three to four hours each day.

Before the ship left dock, Bowers and Wyatt were at work again in the shed with a party of stevedores, sorting and relisting the shore party stores. Everything seems to have gone without a hitch. The various gifts and purchases made in New Zealand were collected–butter, cheese, bacon, hams, some preserved meats, tongues.

Meanwhile the huts were erected on the waste ground beyond the harbour works. Everything was overhauled, sorted, and marked afresh to prevent difficulty in the South. Davies, our excellent carpenter, Forde, Abbott, and Keohane were employed in this work. The large green tent was put up and proper supports made for it.

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, resecuring the deckhouses, 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.

We prepared to start our stowage much as follows: The main hold contains all the shore party provisions and part of the huts; above this on the main deck is packed in wonderfully close fashion the remainder of the wood of the huts, the sledges, and travelling equipment, and the larger instruments and machines to be employed by the scientific people; this encroaches far on the men’s space, but the extent has been determined by their own wish; they have requested, through Evans, that they should not be considered: they were prepared to pig it anyhow, and a few cubic feet of space didn’t matter–such is their spirit.

The men’s space, such as it is, therefore, extends from the fore hatch to the stem on the main deck.

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.
Immediately behind the forecastle bulkhead is the small booby hatch, the only entrance to the men’s mess deck in bad weather. Next comes the foremast, and between that and the fore hatch the galley and winch; on the port side of the fore hatch are stalls for four ponies–a very stout wooden structure.

Abaft the fore hatch is the ice-house. We managed to get 3 tons of ice, 162 carcases of mutton, and three carcases of beef, besides some boxes of sweetbreads and kidneys, into this space. The carcases are stowed in tiers with wooden battens between the tiers–it looks a triumph of orderly stowage, and I have great hope that it will ensure fresh mutton throughout our winter.
On either side of the main hatch and close up to the ice-house are two out of our three motor sledges; the third rests across the break of the poop in a space formerly occupied by a winch.

In front of the break of the poop is a stack of petrol cases; a further stack surmounted with bales of fodder stands between the main hatch and the mainmast, and cases of petrol, paraffin, and alcohol, arranged along either gangway.

Terra Nova

We have managed to get 405 tons of coal in bunkers and main hold, 25 tons in a space left in the fore hold, and a little over 30 tons on the upper deck.
The sacks containing this last, added to the goods already mentioned, make a really heavy deck cargo, and one is naturally anxious concerning it; but everything that can be done by lashing and securing has been done.
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.

With all these stores on board the ship still stood two inches above her load mark. The tanks are filled with compressed forage, except one, which contains 12 tons of fresh water, enough, we hope, to take us to the ice.

Forage. – I originally ordered 30 tons of compressed oaten hay from Melbourne. Oates has gradually persuaded us that this is insufficient, and our pony food weight has gone up to 45 tons, besides 3 or 4 tons for immediate use. The extra consists of 5 tons of hay, 5 or 6 tons of oil-cake, 4 or 5 tons of bran, and some crushed oats. We are not taking any corn.

We have managed to wedge in all the dog biscuits, the total weight being about 5 tons; Meares is reluctant to feed the dogs on seal, but I think we ought to do so during the winter.

We stayed with the Kinseys at their house ‘Te Han’ at Clifton. The house stands at the edge of the cliff, 400 feet above the sea, and looks far over the Christchurch plains and the long northern beach which limits it; close beneath one is the harbour bar and winding estuary of the two small rivers, the Avon and Waimakariri. Far away beyond the plains are the mountains, ever changing their aspect, and yet farther in over this northern sweep of sea can be seen in clear weather the beautiful snow-capped peaks of the Kaikouras. The scene is wholly enchanting, and such a view from some sheltered sunny corner in a garden which blazes with masses of red and golden flowers tends to feelings of inexpressible satisfaction with all things. At night we slept in this garden under peaceful clear skies; by day I was off to my office in Christchurch, then perhaps to the ship or the Island, and so home by the mountain road over the Port Hills. It is a pleasant time to remember in spite of interruptions–and it gave time for many necessary consultations with Kinsey. His interest in the expedition is wonderful, and such interest on the part of a thoroughly shrewd business man is an asset of which I have taken full advantage. Kinsey will act as my agent in Christchurch during my absence; I have given him an ordinary power of attorney, and I think have left him in possession of all facts. His kindness to us was beyond words.

5 Responses to “The Final Preparations in New Zealand”

  1. Peter Galbavy says:

    Not nice to see the SPRI copying the efforts of independent researcher and plagerising work – copying ideas without credit. A long running “live” blog of Scott’s ill fated expedition has been running for some considerable time now at http:// conscott.blogspot.com/

    Tut tut.

  2. admin says:

    The conscott blog is an amusing take on the Terra Nova expedition, but SPRI is keen to make the original text of the journal available. The concept of blogging historical material has been around for quite a while. We plan to add further material from manuscript diaries held in our archive to contextualise Scott’s journal, which will also provide access to hitherto unpublished sources.

  3. Jason Davis says:

    Although I do like this idea, shouldn’t it have been done next year for the 100th Anniversary?

    I look forward to the unpublished materials as I find the whole ‘ill-fated’ expedition fascinating!

  4. christopherhughes says:

    There are plans for next year, in keeping with the anniversary date. Announcements will be made in due course!

  5. Elaine McIntyre (nee Wyatt) says:

    As my grandfather’s brother was Manager to Scott’s Last Expedition, Scott journals have been of particular interest to me. Hence my husband and I travelled to Christchurch New Zealand to see the Exhibition which we missed in Sydney last year. We were very well rewarded with a fantastic exhibition. Well done! We also travelled to Lyttleton to see where Terra Nova departed but lacked time to go to Dunedin. Thanks for a great effort in putting the exhibition together – much appreciated.

    Elaine Mcintyre