Obs. 72º 54′ S., 174º 55′ E. Made good S. 45 W. 55′; C. Crozier S. 17 W. 286′. – ‘The New Year’s Eve found us in the Ross Sea, but not at the end of our misfortunes.’ We had a horrible night. In the first watch we kept away 2 points and set fore and aft sail. It did not increase our comfort but gave us greater speed. The night dragged slowly through. I could not sleep thinking of the sore strait for our wretched ponies. In the morning watch the wind and sea increased and the outlook was very distressing, but at six ice was sighted ahead. Under ordinary conditions the safe course would have been to go about and stand to the east. But in our case we must risk trouble to get smoother water for the ponies. We passed a stream of ice over which the sea was breaking heavily and one realised the danger of being amongst loose floes in such a sea. But soon we came to a compacter body of floes, and running behind this we were agreeably surprised to find comparatively smooth water. We ran on for a bit, then stopped and lay to. Now we are lying in a sort of ice bay – there is a mile or so of pack to windward, and two horns which form the bay embracing us. The sea is damped down to a gentle swell, although the wind is as strong as ever. As a result we are lying very comfortably. The ice is drifting a little faster than the ship so that we have occasionally to steam slowly to leeward.
So far so good. From a dangerous position we have achieved one which only directly involved a waste of coal. The question is, which will last longest, the gale or our temporary shelter?
Rennick has just obtained a sounding of 187 fathoms; taken in conjunction with yesterday’s 1111 fathoms and Ross’s sounding of 180, this is interesting, showing the rapid gradient of the continental shelf. Nelson is going to put over the 8 feet Agassiz trawl.
Unfortunately we could not clear the line for the trawl–it is stowed under the fodder. A light dredge was tried on a small manilla line–very little result. First the weights were insufficient to carry it to the bottom; a second time, with more weight and line, it seems to have touched for a very short time only; there was little of value in the catch, but the biologists are learning the difficulties of the situation.