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Scott's Last Expedition

Monday, 5th December, 1910

Lat. 56° 40′. The barometer has been almost steady since Saturday, the wind rising and falling slightly, but steady in direction from the west. From a point off course we have crept up to the course itself. Everything looks prosperous except the ponies. Up to this morning, in spite of favourable wind and sea, the ship has been pitching heavily to a south-westerly swell. This has tried the animals badly, especially those under the forecastle. We had thought the ponies on the port side to be pretty safe, but two of them seem to me to be groggy, and I doubt if they could stand more heavy weather without a spell of rest. I pray there may be no more gales. We should be nearing the limits of the westerlies, but one cannot be sure for at least two days. There is still a swell from the S.W., though it is not nearly so heavy as yesterday, but I devoutly wish it would vanish altogether. So much depends on fine weather. December ought to be a fine month in the Ross Sea; it always has been, and just now conditions point to fine weather. Well, we must be prepared for anything, but I’m anxious, anxious about these animals of ours.

The dogs have quite recovered since the fine weather – they are quite in good form again.

Our deck cargo is getting reduced; all the coal is off the upper deck and the petrol is re-stored in better fashion; as far as that is concerned we should not mind another blow. Campbell and Bowers have been untiring in getting things straight on deck.

The idea of making our station Cape Crozier has again come on the tapis. There would be many advantages: the ease of getting there at an early date, the fact that none of the autumn or summer parties could be cut off, the fact that the main Barrier could be reached without crossing crevasses and that the track to the Pole would be due south from the first:–the mild condition and absence of blizzards at the penguin rookery, the opportunity of studying the Emperor penguin incubation, and the new interest of the geology of Terror, besides minor facilities, such as the getting of ice, stones for shelters, &c. The disadvantages mainly consist in the possible difficulty of landing stores–a swell would make things very unpleasant, and might possibly prevent the landing of the horses and motors. Then again it would be certain that some distance of bare rock would have to be traversed before a good snow surface was reached from the hut, and possibly a climb of 300 or 400 feet would intervene. Again, it might be difficult to handle the ship whilst stores were being landed, owing to current, bergs, and floe ice. It remains to be seen, but the prospect is certainly alluring. At a pinch we could land the ponies in McMurdo Sound and let them walk round.

The sun is shining brightly this afternoon, everything is drying, and I think the swell continues to subside.

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