The wind returned to the south at 8 last night. It gradually increased in force until 2 A.M., when it was blowing from the S.S.W., force 9 to 10. The sea was breaking constantly and heavily on the ice foot. The spray carried right over the Point – covering all things and raining on the roof of the hut. Poor Vince’s cross, some 30 feet above the water, was enveloped in it.
Of course the dogs had a very poor time, and we went and released two or three, getting covered in spray during the operation – our wind clothes very wet.
This is the third gale from the south since our arrival here. Any one of these would have rendered the Bay impossible for a ship, and therefore it is extraordinary that we should have entirely escaped such a blow when the Discovery was in it in 1902.
The effects of this gale are evident and show that it is a most unusual occurrence. The rippled snow surface of the ice foot is furrowed in all directions and covered with briny deposit – a condition we have never seen before. The ice foot at the S.W. corner of the bay is broken down, bare rock appearing for the first time.
The sledges, magnetic huts, and in fact every exposed object on the Point are thickly covered with brine. Our seal floe has gone, so it is good-bye to seals on this side for some time.
The dogs are the main sufferers by this continuance of phenomenally terrible weather. At least four are in a bad state; some six or seven others are by no means fit and well, but oddly enough some ten or a dozen animals are as fit as they can be. Whether constitutionally harder or whether better fitted by nature or chance to protect themselves it is impossible to say – Osman, Czigane, Krisravitsa, Hohol, and some others are in first-rate condition, whilst Lappa is better than he has ever been before.
It is so impossible to keep the dogs comfortable in the traces and so laborious to be continually attempting it, that we have decided to let the majority run loose. It will be wonderful if we can avoid one or two murders, but on the other hand probably more would die if we kept them in leash.
We shall try and keep the quarrelsome dogs chained up.
The main trouble that seems to come on the poor wretches is the icing up of their hindquarters; once the ice gets thoroughly into the coat the hind legs get half paralysed with cold. The hope is that the animals will free themselves of this by running about.
Well, well, fortune is not being very kind to us. This month will have sad memories. Still I suppose things might be worse; the ponies are well housed and are doing exceedingly well, though we have slightly increased their food allowance.
Yesterday afternoon we climbed Observation Hill to see some examples of spheroidal weathering – Wilson knew of them and guided. The geologists state that they indicate a columnar structure, the tops of the columns being weathered out.
The specimens we saw were very perfect. Had some interesting instruction in geology in the evening. I should not regret a stay here with our two geologists if only the weather would allow us to get about.
This morning the wind moderated and went to the S.E.; the sea naturally fell quickly. The temperature this morning was + 17º; minimum +11º. But now the wind is increasing from the S.E. and it is momentarily getting colder.