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Farthest North - Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship 'Fram' 1893-1896
by Fridtjof Nansen
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Farthest North

Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship "Fram" 1893-96 and of a Fifteen Months' Sleigh Journey by Dr. Nansen and Lieut. Johansen

By

Dr. Fridtjof Nansen

With an Appendix by Otto Sverdrup Captain of the Fram

About 120 Full-page and Numerous Text Illustrations 16 Colored Plates in Facsimile from Dr. Nansen's Own Sketches, Etched Portrait, and Photogravures

In two volumes

Vol. I.

New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers



Copyright, 1897, by Harper & Brothers.

All rights reserved.



TO HER WHO CHRISTENED THE SHIP AND HAD THE COURAGE TO REMAIN BEHIND



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

CHAP. PAGE

I. Introduction 1 II. Preparations and Equipment 54 III. The Start 81 IV. Farewell To Norway 104 V. Voyage Through the Kara Sea 146 VI. The Winter Night 237 VII. The Spring and Summer of 1894 442 VIII. Second Autumn in the Ice 525



ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOL. I.

Page.

Fridtjof Nansen Etched Frontispiece Colin Archer 58 Design of the "Fram" 61 Sigurd Scott-Hansen 85 Adolf Juell 89 The "Fram" leaving Bergen 93 Otto Sverdrup 99 First drift-ice (July 28, 1893) 107 The new church and the old church at Khabarova 116 Peter Henriksen 119 Our trial trip with the dogs 127 Evening scene at Khabarova 131 O. Christofersen and A. Trontheim 135 Landing on Yalmal 148 The plain of Yalmal 150 In the Kara Sea 152 The "Fram" in the Kara Sea 155 Ostrova Kamenni (Rocky Island), off the coast of Siberia 158 Theodor C. Jacobsen, mate of the "Fram" 161 Henrik Blessing 167 A dead bear on Reindeer Island (August 21, 1893) 172 "We first tried to drag the bears" 173 Bernard Nordahl 177 Ivar Mogstad 185 Bernt Bentzen 193 Lars Pettersen 205 Anton Amundsen 213 Cape Chelyuskin, the Northernmost point of the Old World 218 On land East of Cape Chelyuskin (September 10, 1893) 219 A warm corner among the walruses, off East Taimur 223 The ice into which the "Fram" was frozen (September 25, 1893) 234 The smithy on the "Fram" 239 The thermometer house 244 Magnetic observations 247 A smoke in the galley of the "Fram" 250 "The saloon was converted into a reading-room" 252 Scott-Hansen and Johansen inspecting the barometers Facing p. 254 Dr. Blessing in his cabin 257 "I let loose some of the dogs" 263 The men who were afraid of frightening the bear. "Off steals Blessing on tiptoe" 267 Dogs chained on the ice 272 We lay in open water 275 My first attempt at dog driving 289 A chronometer—observation with the theodolite Facing p. 314 A lively game of cards 318 "'I took the lantern and gave him such a whack on the head with it'" 330 A nocturnal visitant 336 Sverdrup's bear-trap (moonlight, December 20, 1893) 339 "He stared, hesitating, at the delicious morsel" 341 Promenade in times of peace with Sverdrup's patent foot-gear 345 "Fram" fellows on the war-path: difference between the Sverdrup and the Lapp foot-gear 346 "Fram" fellows still on the war-path 347 "It was strange once more to see the moonlight playing on the coal-black waves" 351 A game of halma 355 First appearance of the sun 394 Diagrams of ice with layers 401 Johansen reading the anemometer 409 Two friends 418 Experiment in sledge sailing 421 At the coming of the Spring (March, 1894) 425 Returning home after sunset (March 31, 1894) 429 Observing the eclipse of the sun (April 6, 1894) 433 Tailpiece 441 Taking a sounding of 2058 fathoms 447 Home-sickness (June 16, 1894) 451 Sailing on the fresh-water pool (July 12, 1894) 454 Reading temperatures with lens Facing p. 456 Peter Henriksen in a brown study (July 6, 1894) 461 Taking water temperatures 466 Summer guests 469 Rhodos Tethia 473 Nansen takes a walk (July 6, 1894) 477 Our kennels (September 27, 1894) 480 The dogs basking in the sun (June 13, 1894) 482 The Seventeenth-of-May procession, 1894 485 The drift-ice in Summer (July 12, 1894) 487 A Summer scene (July 21, 1894) 493 The stern of the "Fram." Johansen and "Sultan" (June 16, 1894) 499 Blessing goes off in search of algae 503 A Summer evening (July 14, 1894) 505 Blessing fishing for algae 507 Pressure-ridge on the port quarter of the "Fram" (July 1, 1894) 509 Skeletons of a kayak for one man (bamboo) and of a double kayak, lying on a hand-sledge 511 A Summer evening (July 14, 1894) 519 Tailpiece 524 Pettersen after the explosion 529 Snow-shoe practice (September 28, 1894) 542 Return from a snow-shoe run (September 28, 1894) 544 Block of ice (September 28, 1894) 546 The waning day (October, 1894) 548 A snow-shoe excursion (October, 1894) 553 In line for the photographer 555 Deep-water temperature. "Up with the thermometer" (July 12, 1894) 559 On the after-deck of the "Fram" (October, 1894) 563 The return of snow-shoers Facing p. 566



COLORED PLATES IN VOL. I.

Facing p.

I. Walruses killed off the East coast of the Taimur Peninsula (September 12, 1893) 220 II. Sleepy and cross (September 12, 1893) 228 III. Sunset off the North coast of Asia, North of the mouth of the Chatanga (September 12, 1893) 232 IV. Off the edge of the ice.—Gathering storm (September 14, 1893) 290 V. Evening among the drift-ice (September 22, 1893) 304 VI. At sunset (September 22, 1893) 324 VII. The waning polar day (September 22, 1893) 352 VIII. Moonlight (November 22, 1893) 576



PUBLISHER'S NOTE

The Author had not originally contemplated the publication of the colored sketches which are produced in this work. He has permitted their reproduction because they may be useful as showing color effects in the Arctic; but he wishes it understood that he claims no artistic merit for them.



FARTHEST NORTH

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

"A time will come in later years when the Ocean will unloose the bands of things, when the immeasurable earth will lie open, when seafarers will discover new countries, and Thule will no longer be the extreme point among the lands."—Seneca.

Unseen and untrodden under their spotless mantle of ice the rigid polar regions slept the profound sleep of death from the earliest dawn of time. Wrapped in his white shroud, the mighty giant stretched his clammy ice-limbs abroad, and dreamed his age-long dreams.

Ages passed—deep was the silence.

Then, in the dawn of history, far away in the south, the awakening spirit of man reared its head on high and gazed over the earth. To the south it encountered warmth, to the north, cold; and behind the boundaries of the unknown it placed in imagination the twin kingdoms of consuming heat and of deadly cold.

But the limits of the unknown had to recede step by step before the ever-increasing yearning after light and knowledge of the human mind, till they made a stand in the north at the threshold of Nature's great Ice Temple of the polar regions with their endless silence.

Up to this point no insuperable obstacles had opposed the progress of the advancing hosts, which confidently proceeded on their way. But here the ramparts of ice and the long darkness of winter brought them to bay. Host after host marched on towards the north, only to suffer defeat. Fresh ranks stood ever ready to advance over the bodies of their predecessors. Shrouded in fog lay the mythic land of Nivlheim, where the "Rimturser" [1] carried on their wild gambols.

Why did we continually return to the attack? There in the darkness and cold stood Helheim, where the death-goddess held her sway; there lay Nastrand, the shore of corpses. Thither, where no living being could draw breath, thither troop after troop made its way. To what end? Was it to bring home the dead, as did Hermod when he rode after Baldur? No! It was simply to satisfy man's thirst for knowledge. Nowhere, in truth, has knowledge been purchased at greater cost of privation and suffering. But the spirit of mankind will never rest till every spot of these regions has been trodden by the foot of man, till every enigma has been solved.

Minute by minute, degree by degree, we have stolen forward, with painful effort. Slowly the day has approached; even now we are but in its early dawn; darkness still broods over vast tracts around the Pole.

Our ancestors, the old Vikings, were the first Arctic voyagers. It has been said that their expeditions to the frozen sea were of no moment, as they have left no enduring marks behind them. This, however, is scarcely correct. Just as surely as the whalers of our age, in their persistent struggles with ice and sea, form our outposts of investigation up in the north, so were the old Northmen, with Eric the Red, Leif, and others at their head, the pioneers of the polar expeditions of future generations.

It should be borne in mind that as they were the first ocean navigators, so also were they the first to combat with the ice. Long before other seafaring nations had ever ventured to do more than hug the coast lines, our ancestors had traversed the open seas in all directions, had discovered Iceland and Greenland, and had colonized them. At a later period they discovered America, and did not shrink from making a straight course over the Atlantic Ocean, from Greenland to Norway. Many and many a bout must they have had with the ice along the coasts of Greenland in their open barks, and many a life must have been lost.

And that which impelled them to undertake these expeditions was not the mere love of adventure, though that is, indeed, one of the essential traits of our national character. It was rather the necessity of discovering new countries for the many restless beings that could find no room in Norway. Furthermore, they were stimulated by a real interest for knowledge. Othar, who about 890 resided in England at Alfred's Court, set out on an errand of geographical investigation; or, as he says himself, "he felt an inspiration and a desire to learn, to know, and to demonstrate how far the land stretched towards the north, and if there were any regions inhabited by man northward beyond the desert waste." He lived in the northernmost part of Helgeland, probably at Bjarkoei, and sailed round the North Cape and eastward, even to the White Sea.

Adam of Bremen relates of Harald Hardrade, "the experienced king of the Northmen," that he undertook a voyage out into the sea towards the north and "explored the expanse of the northern ocean with his ships, but darkness spread over the verge where the world falls away, and he put about barely in time to escape being swallowed in the vast abyss." This was Ginnungagap, the abyss at the world's end. How far he went no one knows, but at all events he deserves recognition as one of the first of the polar navigators that were animated by pure love of knowledge. Naturally, these Northmen were not free from the superstitious ideas about the polar regions prevalent in their times. There, indeed, they placed their Ginnungagap, their Nivlheim, Helheim, and later on Trollebotn; but even these mythical and poetical ideas contained so large a kernel of observation that our fathers may be said to have possessed a remarkably clear conception of the true nature of things. How soberly and correctly they observed may best be seen a couple of hundred years later in Kongespeilet ("The Mirror of Kings"), the most scientific treatise of our ancient literature, where it is said that "as soon as one has traversed the greater part of the wild sea, one comes upon such a huge quantity of ice that nowhere in the whole world has the like been known. Some of the ice is so flat that it looks as if it were frozen on the sea itself; it is from 8 to 10 feet thick, and extends so far out into the sea that it would take a journey of four or more days to reach the land over it. But this ice lies more to the northeast or north, beyond the limits of the land, than to the south and southwest or west....

"This ice is of a wonderful nature. It lies at times quite still, as one would expect, with openings or large fjords in it; but sometimes its movement is so strong and rapid as to equal that of a ship running before the wind, and it drifts against the wind as often as with it."

This is a conception all the more remarkable when viewed in the light of the crude ideas entertained by the rest of the world at that period with regard to foreign climes.

The strength of our people now dwindled away, and centuries elapsed before explorers once more sought the northern seas. Then it was other nations, especially the Dutch and the English, that led the van. The sober observations of the old Northmen were forgotten, and in their stead we meet with repeated instances of the attraction of mankind towards the most fantastic ideas; a tendency of thought that found ample scope in the regions of the north. When the cold proved not to be absolutely deadly, theories flew to the opposite extreme, and marvellous were the erroneous ideas that sprang up and have held their own down to the present day. Over and over again it has been the same—the most natural explanation of phenomena is the very one that men have most shunned; and, if no middle course was to be found, they have rushed to the wildest hypothesis. It is only thus that the belief in an open polar sea could have arisen and held its ground. Though everywhere ice was met with, people maintained that this open sea must lie behind the ice. Thus the belief in an ice-free northeast and northwest passage to the wealth of Cathay or of India, first propounded towards the close of the 15th century, cropped up again and again, only to be again and again refuted. Since the ice barred the southern regions, the way must lie farther north; and finally a passage over the Pole itself was sought for. Wild as these theories were, they have worked for the benefit of mankind; for by their means our knowledge of the earth has been widely extended. Hence we may see that no work done in the service of investigation is ever lost, not even when carried out under false assumptions. England has to thank these chimeras in no small degree for the fact that she has become the mightiest seafaring nation of the world.

By many paths and by many means mankind has endeavored to penetrate this kingdom of death. At first the attempt was made exclusively by sea. Ships were then ill adapted to combat the ice, and people were loath to make the venture. The clinker-built pine and fir barks of the old Northmen were no better fitted for the purpose than were the small clumsy carvels of the first English and Dutch Arctic explorers. Little by little they learnt to adapt their vessels to the conditions, and with ever-increasing daring they forced them in among the dreaded floes.

But the uncivilized polar tribes, both those that inhabit the Siberian tundras and the Eskimo of North America, had discovered, long before polar expeditions had begun, another and a safer means of traversing these regions—to wit, the sledge, usually drawn by dogs. It was in Siberia that this excellent method of locomotion was first applied to the service of polar exploration. Already in the 17th and 18th centuries the Russians undertook very extensive sledge journeys, and charted the whole of the Siberian coast from the borders of Europe to Bering Strait. And they did not merely travel along the coasts, but crossed the drift-ice itself to the New Siberian Islands, and even north of them. Nowhere, perhaps, have travellers gone through so many sufferings, or evinced so much endurance.

In America, too, the sledge was employed by Englishmen at an early date for the purpose of exploring the shores of the Arctic seas. Sometimes the toboggan or Indian sledge was used, sometimes that of the Eskimo. It was under the able leadership of M'Clintock that sledge journeys attained their highest development. While the Russians had generally travelled with a large number of dogs, and only a few men, the English employed many more men on their expeditions, and their sledges were entirely, or for the most part, drawn by the explorers themselves. Thus in the most energetic attempt ever made to reach high latitudes, Albert Markham's memorable march towards the north from the Alert's winter quarters, there were 33 men who had to draw the sledges, though there were plenty of dogs on board the ship. It would appear, indeed, as if dogs were not held in great estimation by the English.

The American traveller Peary has, however, adopted a totally different method of travelling on the inland ice of Greenland, employing as few men and as many dogs as possible. The great importance of dogs for sledge journeys was clear to me before I undertook my Greenland expedition, and the reason I did not use them then was simply that I was unable to procure any serviceable animals. [2]

A third method may yet be mentioned which has been employed in the Arctic regions—namely, boats and sledges combined. It is said of the old Northmen in the Sagas and in the Kongespeilet, that for days on end they had to drag their boats over the ice in the Greenland sea, in order to reach land. The first in modern times to make use of this means of travelling was Parry, who, in his memorable attempt to reach the Pole in 1827, abandoned his ship and made his way over the drift-ice northward with boats, which he dragged on sledges. He succeeded in attaining the highest latitude (82 deg. 45') that had yet been reached; but here the current carried him to the south more quickly than he could advance against it, and he was obliged to turn back.

Of later years this method of travelling has not been greatly employed in approaching the Pole. It may, however, be mentioned that Markham took boats with him also on his sledge expedition. Many expeditions have through sheer necessity accomplished long distances over the drift-ice in this way, in order to reach home after having abandoned or lost their ship. Especial mention may be made of the Austro-Hungarian Tegethoff expedition to Franz Josef Land, and the ill-fated American Jeannette expedition.

It seems that but few have thought of following the example of the Eskimo—living as they do, and, instead of heavy boats, taking light kayaks drawn by dogs. At all events, no attempts have been made in this direction.

The methods of advance have been tested on four main routes: the Smith Sound route, the sea route between Greenland and Spitzbergen, Franz Josef Land route, and the Bering Strait route.

In later times, the point from which the Pole has been most frequently assailed is Smith Sound, probably because American explorers had somewhat too hastily asserted that they had there descried the open Polar Sea, extending indefinitely towards the north. Every expedition was stopped, however, by immense masses of ice, which came drifting southward, and piled themselves up against the coasts. The most important expedition by this route was the English one conducted by Nares in 1875-76, the equipment of which involved a vast expenditure. Markham, the next in command to Nares, reached the highest latitude till then attained, 83 deg. 20', but at the cost of enormous exertion and loss; and Nares was of opinion that the impossibility of reaching the Pole by this route was fully demonstrated for all future ages.

During the stay of the Greely expedition (from 1881 to 1884) in this same region, Lockwood attained a somewhat higher record, viz., 83 deg. 24', the most northerly point on the globe that human feet had trodden previous to the expedition of which the present work treats.

By way of the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen, several attempts have been made to penetrate the secrets of the domain of ice. In 1607 Henry Hudson endeavored to reach the Pole along the east coast of Greenland, where he was in hopes of finding an open basin and a waterway to the Pacific. His progress was, however, stayed at 73 deg. north latitude, at a point of the coast which he named "Hold with Hope." The German expedition under Koldeway (1869-70), which visited the same waters, reached by the aid of sledges as far north as 77 deg. north latitude. Owing to the enormous masses of ice which the polar current sweeps southward along this coast, it is certainly one of the most unfavorable routes for a polar expedition. A better route is that by Spitzbergen, which was essayed by Hudson, when his progress was blocked off Greenland. Here he reached 80 deg. 23' north latitude. Thanks to the warm current that runs by the west coast of Spitzbergen in a northerly direction, the sea is kept free from ice, and it is without comparison the route by which one can the most safely and easily reach high latitudes in ice-free waters. It was north of Spitzbergen that Edward Parry made his attempt in 1827, above alluded to.

Farther eastward the ice-conditions are less favorable, and therefore few polar expeditions have directed their course through these regions. The original object of the Austro-Hungarian expedition under Weyprecht and Payer (1872-74) was to seek for the Northeast Passage; but at its first meeting with the ice it was set fast off the north point of Novaya Zemlya, drifted northward, and discovered Franz Josef Land, whence Payer endeavored to push forward to the north with sledges, reaching 82 deg. 5' north latitude on an island, which he named Crown-Prince Rudolf's Land. To the north of this he thought he could see an extensive tract of land, lying in about 83 deg. north latitude, which he called Petermann's Land. Franz Josef Land was afterwards twice visited by the English traveller Leigh Smith in 1880 and 1881-82; and it is here that the English Jackson-Harmsworth expedition is at present established.

The plan of the Danish expedition under Hovgaard was to push forward to the North Pole from Cape Chelyuskin along the east coast of an extensive tract of land which Hovgaard thought must lie to the east of Franz Josef Land. He got set fast in the ice, however, in the Kara Sea, and remained the winter there, returning home the following year.

Only a few attempts have been made through Bering Strait. The first was Cook's, in 1776; the last the Jeannette expedition (1879-81), under De Long, a lieutenant in the American navy. Scarcely anywhere have polar travellers been so hopelessly blocked by ice in comparatively low latitudes. The last-named expedition, however, had a most important bearing upon my own. As De Long himself says in a letter to James Gordon Bennett, who supplied the funds for the expedition, he was of opinion that there were three routes to choose from—Smith Sound, the east coast of Greenland, or Bering Strait; but he put most faith in the last, and this was ultimately selected. His main reason for this choice was his belief in a Japanese current running north through Bering Strait and onward along the east coast of Wrangel Land, which was believed to extend far to the north. It was urged that the warm water of this current would open a way along that coast, possibly up to the Pole. The experience of whalers showed that whenever their vessels were set fast in the ice here they drifted northwards; hence it was concluded that the current generally set in that direction. "This will help explorers," says De Long, "to reach high latitudes, but at the same time will make it more difficult for them to come back." The truth of these words he himself was to learn by bitter experience.

The Jeannette stuck fast in the ice on September 6th, 1879, in 71 deg. 35' north latitude and 175 deg. 6' east longitude, southeast of Wrangel Land—which, however, proved to be a small island—and drifted with the ice in a west-northwesterly direction for two years, when it foundered, June 12th, 1881, north of the New Siberian Islands, in 77 deg. 15' north latitude and 154 deg. 59' east longitude.

Everywhere, then, has the ice stopped the progress of mankind towards the north. In two cases only have ice-bound vessels drifted in a northerly direction—in the case of the Tegethoff and the Jeannette—while most of the others have been carried away from their goal by masses of ice drifting southward.

On reading the history of Arctic explorations, it early occurred to me that it would be very difficult to wrest the secrets from these unknown regions of ice by adopting the routes and the methods hitherto employed. But where did the proper route lie?

It was in the autumn of 1884 that I happened to see an article by Professor Mohn in the Norwegian Morgenblad, in which it was stated that sundry articles which must have come from the Jeannette had been found on the southwest coast of Greenland. He conjectured that they must have drifted on a floe right across the Polar Sea. It immediately occurred to me that here lay the route ready to hand. If a floe could drift right across the unknown region, that drift might also be enlisted in the service of exploration—and my plan was laid. Some years, however, elapsed before, in February, 1890, after my return from my Greenland expedition, I at last propounded the idea in an address before the Christiania Geographical Society. As this address plays an important part in the history of the expedition, I shall reproduce its principal features, as printed in the March number of Naturen, 1891.

After giving a brief sketch of the different polar expeditions of former years, I go on to say: "The results of these numerous attempts, as I have pointed out, seem somewhat discouraging. They appear to show plainly enough that it is impossible to sail to the Pole by any route whatever; for everywhere the ice has proved an impenetrable barrier, and has stayed the progress of invaders on the threshold of the unknown regions.

"To drag boats over the uneven drift-ice, which moreover is constantly moving under the influence of the current and wind, is an equally great difficulty. The ice lays such obstacles in the way that any one who has ever attempted to traverse it will not hesitate to declare it well-nigh impossible to advance in this manner with the equipment and provisions requisite for such an undertaking."

Had we been able to advance over land, I said, that would have been the most certain route; in that case the Pole could have been reached "in one summer by Norwegian snow-shoe runners." But there is every reason to doubt the existence of any such land. Greenland, I considered, did not extend farther than the most northerly known point of its west coast. "It is not probable that Franz Josef Land reaches to the Pole; from all we can learn it forms a group of islands separated from each other by deep sounds, and it appears improbable that any large continuous track of land is to be found there.

"Some people are perhaps of opinion that one ought to defer the examination of regions like those around the Pole, beset, as they are, with so many difficulties, till new means of transport have been discovered. I have heard it intimated that one fine day we shall be able to reach the Pole by a balloon, and that it is only waste of time to seek to get there before that day comes. It need scarcely be shown that this line of reasoning is untenable. Even if one could really suppose that in the near or distant future this frequently mooted idea of travelling to the Pole in an air-ship would be realized, such an expedition, however interesting it might be in certain respects, would be far from yielding the scientific results of expeditions carried out in the manner here indicated. Scientific results of importance in all branches of research can be attained only by persistent observations during a lengthened sojourn in these regions, while those of a balloon expedition cannot but be of a transitory nature.

"We must, then, endeavor to ascertain if there are not other routes—and I believe there are. I believe that if we pay attention to the actually existent forces of nature, and seek to work with and not against them, we shall thus find the safest and easiest method of reaching the Pole. It is useless, as previous expeditions have done, to work against the current; we should see if there is not a current we can work with. The Jeannette expedition is the only one, in my opinion, that started on the right track, though it may have been unwittingly and unwillingly.

"The Jeannette drifted for two years in the ice, from Wrangel Land to the New Siberian Islands. Three years after she foundered to the north of these islands there was found frozen into the drift-ice, in the neighborhood of Julianehaab, on the southwest coast of Greenland, a number of articles which appeared, from sundry indubitable marks, to proceed from the sunken vessel. These articles were first discovered by the Eskimo, and were afterwards collected by Mr. Lytzen, Colonial Manager at Julianehaab, who has given a list of them in the Danish Geographical Journal for 1885. Among them the following may especially be mentioned:

"1. A list of provisions, signed by De Long, the commander of the Jeannette. "2. A MS. list of the Jeannette's boats. "3. A pair of oilskin breeches marked 'Louis Noros,' the name of one of the Jeannette's crew, who was saved. "4. The peak of a cap on which, according to Lytzen's statement, was written F. C. Lindemann. The name of one of the crew of the Jeannette, who was also saved, was F. C. Nindemann. This may either have been a clerical error on Lytzen's part or a misprint in the Danish journal.

"In America, when it was reported that these articles had been found, people were very sceptical, and doubts of their genuineness were expressed in the American newspapers. The facts, however, can scarcely be sheer inventions; and it may therefore be safely assumed that an ice-floe bearing these articles from the Jeannette had drifted from the place where it sank to Julianehaab.

"By what route did this ice-floe reach the west coast of Greenland?

"Professor Mohn, in a lecture before the Scientific Society of Christiania, in November, 1894, showed that it could have come by no other way than across the Pole. [3]

"It cannot possibly have come through Smith Sound, as the current there passes along the western side of Baffin's Bay, and it would thus have been conveyed to Baffin's Land or Labrador, and not to the west coast of Greenland. The current flows along this coast in a northerly direction, and is a continuation of the Greenland polar current, which comes along the east coast of Greenland, takes a bend round Cape Farewell, and passes upward along the west coast.

"It is by this current only that the floe could have come.

"But the question now arises: What route did it take from the New Siberian Islands in order to reach the east coast of Greenland?

"It is conceivable that it might have drifted along the north coast of Siberia, south of Franz Josef Land, up through the sound between Franz Josef Land and Spitzbergen, or even to the south of Spitzbergen, and might after that have got into the polar current which flows along Greenland. If, however, we study the directions of the currents in these regions so far as they are at present ascertained, it will be found that this is extremely improbable, not to say impossible."

Having shown that this is evident from the Tegethoff drift and from many other circumstances, I proceeded:

"The distance from the New Siberian Islands to the 80th degree of latitude on the east coast of Greenland is 1360 miles, and the distance from the last-named place to Julianehaab 1540 miles, making together a distance of 2900 miles. This distance was traversed by the floe in 1100 days, which gives a speed of 2.6 miles per day of 24 hours. The time during which the relics drifted after having reached the 80th degree of latitude, till they arrived at Julianehaab, can be calculated with tolerable precision, as the speed of the above-named current along the east coast of Greenland is well known. It may be assumed that it took at least 400 days to accomplish this distance; there remain, then, about 700 days as the longest time the drifting articles can have taken from the New Siberian Islands to the 80th degree of latitude. Supposing that they took the shortest route—i. e., across the Pole—this computation gives a speed of about 2 miles in 24 hours. On the other hand, supposing they went by the route south of Franz Josef Land, and south of Spitzbergen, they must have drifted at much higher speed. Two miles in the 24 hours, however, coincides most remarkably with the rate at which the Jeannette drifted during the last months of her voyage, from January 1 to June 12, 1881. In this time she drifted at an average rate of a little over 2 miles in the 24 hours. If, however, the average speed of the whole of the Jeannette's drifting be taken, it will be found to be only 1 mile in the 24 hours.

"But are there no other evidences of a current flowing across the North Pole from Bering Sea on the one side to the Atlantic Ocean on the other?

"Yes, there are.

"Dr. Rink received from a Greenlander at Godthaab a remarkable piece of wood which had been found among the drift-timber on the coast. It is one of the 'throwing sticks' which the Eskimo use in hurling their bird-darts, but altogether unlike those used by the Eskimo on the west coast of Greenland. Dr. Rink conjectured that it possibly proceeded from the Eskimo on the east coast of Greenland.

"From later inquiries, [4] however, it appeared that it must have come from the coast of Alaska in the neighborhood of Bering Strait, as that is the only place where 'throwing sticks' of a similar form are used. It was even ornamented with Chinese glass beads, exactly similar to those which the Alaskan Eskimo obtain by barter from Asiatic tribes, and use for the decoration of their 'throwing sticks.'

"We may, therefore, with confidence assert that this piece of wood was carried from the west coast of Alaska over to Greenland by a current the whole course of which we do not know, but which may be assumed to flow very near the North Pole, or at some place between it and Franz Josef Land.

"There are, moreover, still further proofs that such a current exists. As is well known, no trees grow in Greenland that can be used for making boats, sledges, or other appliances. The driftwood that is carried down by the polar current along the east coast of Greenland and up the west coast is, therefore, essential to the existence of the Greenland Eskimo. But whence does this timber come?

"Here our inquiries again carry us to lands on the other side of the Pole. I have myself had an opportunity of examining large quantities of driftwood both on the west coast and on the east coast of Greenland. I have, moreover, found pieces drifting in the sea off the east coast, and, like earlier travellers, have arrived at the conclusion that much the greater part of it can only have come from Siberia, while a smaller portion may possibly have come from America. For amongst it are to be found fir, Siberian larch, and other kinds of wood peculiar to the north, which could scarcely have come from any other quarter. Interesting in this respect are the discoveries that have been made on the east coast of Greenland by the second German Polar Expedition. Out of twenty-five pieces of driftwood, seventeen were Siberian larch, five Norwegian fir (probably Picea obovata), two a kind of alder (Alnus incana?), and one a poplar (Populus tremula? the common aspen), all of which are trees found in Siberia.

"By way of supplement to these observations on the Greenland side, it may be mentioned that the Jeannette expedition frequently found Siberian driftwood (fir and birch) between the floes in the strong northerly current to the northward of the New Siberian Islands.

"Fortunately for the Eskimo, such large quantities of this driftwood come every year to the coasts of Greenland that in my opinion one cannot but assume that they are conveyed thither by a constantly flowing current, especially as the wood never appears to have been very long in the sea—at all events, not without having been frozen in the ice.

"That this driftwood passes south of Franz Josef Land and Spitzbergen is quite as unreasonable a theory as that the ice-floe with the relics from the Jeannette drifted by this route. In further disproof of this assumption it may be stated that Siberian driftwood is found north of Spitzbergen in the strong southerly current, against which Parry fought in vain.

"It appears, therefore, that on these grounds also we cannot but admit the existence of a current flowing across, or in close proximity to, the Pole.

"As an interesting fact in this connection, it may also be mentioned that the German botanist Grisebach has shown that the Greenland flora includes a series of Siberian vegetable forms that could scarcely have reached Greenland in any other way than by the help of such a current conveying the seeds.

"On the drift-ice in Denmark Strait (between Iceland and Greenland) I have made observations which tend to the conclusion that this ice too was of Siberian origin. For instance, I found quantities of mud on it, which seemed to be of Siberian origin, or might possibly have come from North American rivers. It is possible, however, to maintain that this mud originates in the glacier rivers that flow from under the ice in the north of Greenland, or in other unknown polar lands; so that this piece of evidence is of less importance than those already named.

"Putting all this together, we seem driven to the conclusion that a current flows at some point between the Pole and Franz Josef Land from the Siberian Arctic Sea to the east coast of Greenland.

"That such must be the case we may also infer in another way. If we regard, for instance, the polar current—that broad current which flows down from the unknown polar regions between Spitzbergen and Greenland—and consider what an enormous mass of water it carries along, it must seem self-evident that this cannot come from a circumscribed and small basin, but must needs be gathered from distant sources, the more so as the Polar Sea (so far as we know it) is remarkably shallow everywhere to the north of the European, Asiatic, and American coasts. The polar current is no doubt fed by that branch of the Gulf Stream which makes its way up the west side of Spitzbergen; but this small stream is far from being sufficient, and the main body of its water must be derived from farther northward.

"It is probable that the polar current stretches its suckers, as it were, to the coast of Siberia and Bering Strait, and draws its supplies from these distant regions. The water it carries off is replaced partly through the warm current before mentioned which makes its way through Bering Strait, and partly by that branch of the Gulf Stream which, passing by the north of Norway, bends eastward towards Novaya Zemlya, and of which a great portion unquestionably continues its course along the north coast of this island into the Siberian Arctic Sea. That a current coming from the south takes this direction—at all events, in some measure—appears probable from the well-known fact that in the northern hemisphere the rotation of the earth tends to compel a northward-flowing current, whether of water or of air, to assume an easterly course. The earth's rotation may also cause a southward-flowing stream, like the polar current, to direct its course westward to the east coast of Greenland.

"But even if these currents flowing in the polar basin did not exist, I am still of opinion that in some other way a body of water must collect in it, sufficient to form a polar current. In the first place, there are the North European, the Siberian, and North American rivers debouching into the Arctic Sea, to supply this water. The fluvial basin of these rivers is very considerable, comprising a large portion of Northern Europe, almost the whole of Northern Asia or Siberia down to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal, together with the principal part of Alaska and British North America. All these added together form no unimportant portion of the earth, and the rainfall of these countries is enormous. It is not conceivable that the Arctic Sea of itself could contribute anything of importance to this rainfall; for, in the first place, it is for the most part covered with drift-ice, from which the evaporation is but trifling; and, in the next place, the comparatively low temperature in these regions prevents any considerable evaporation taking place even from open surfaces of water. The moisture that produces this rainfall must consequently in a great measure come from elsewhere, principally from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the amount of water which thereby feeds the Arctic Sea must be very considerable. If we possessed sufficient knowledge of the rainfall in the different localities it might be exactly calculated. [5]

"The importance of this augmentation appears even greater when we consider that the polar basin is comparatively small, and, as has been already remarked, very shallow; its greatest known depth being from 60 to 80 fathoms.

"But there is still another factor that must help to increase the quantity of water in the polar basin, and that is its own rainfall. Weyprecht has already pointed out the probability that the large influx of warm, moist atmosphere from the south, attracted by the constant low atmospheric pressure in the polar regions, must engender so large a rainfall as to augment considerably the amount of water in the Polar Sea. Moreover, the fact that the polar basin receives large supplies of fresh water is proved by the small amount of salt in the water of the polar current.

"From all these considerations it appears unquestionable that the sea around the Pole is fed with considerable quantities of water, partly fresh, as we have just seen, partly salt, as we indicated further back, proceeding from the different ocean currents. It thus becomes inevitable, according to the law of equilibrium, that these masses of water should seek such an outlet as we find in the Greenland polar current.

"Let us now inquire whether further reasons can be found to show why this current flows exactly in the given direction.

"If we examine the ocean soundings, we at once find a conclusive reason why the main outlet must lie between Spitzbergen and Greenland. The sea here, so far as we know it, is at all points very deep; there is, indeed, a channel of as much as 2500 fathoms depth; while south of Spitzbergen and Franz Josef Land it is remarkably shallow—not more than 160 fathoms. As has been stated, a current passes northward through Bering Strait and Smith Sound, and the sounds between the islands north of America, though here, indeed, there is a southward current, are far too small and narrow to form adequate outlets for the mass of water of which we are speaking. There is, therefore, no other assumption left than that this mass of water must find its outlet by the route actually followed by the polar current. The channel discovered by the Jeannette expedition between Wrangel Land and the New Siberian Islands may here be mentioned as a notable fact. It extended in a northerly direction, and was at some points more than 80 fathoms deep, while at the sides the soundings ran only to 40 or 50 fathoms. It is by no means impossible that this channel may be a continuation of the channel between Spitzbergen and Greenland, [6] in which case it would certainly influence, if not actually determine, the direction of the main current.

"If we examine the conditions of wind and atmospheric pressure over the Polar Sea, as far as they are known, it would appear that they must tend to produce a current across the Pole in the direction indicated. From the Atlantic to the south of Spitzbergen and Franz Josef Land a belt of low atmospheric pressure (minimum belt) extends into the Siberian Arctic Sea. In accordance with well-known laws, the wind must have a preponderating direction from west to east on the south side of this belt, and this would promote an eastward-flowing current along the north coast of Siberia, such as has been found to exist there. [7] The winds on the north side of the minimum belt must, however, blow mainly in a direction from east to west, and will consequently produce a westerly current, passing across the Pole towards the Greenland Sea, exactly as we have seen to be the case.

"It thus appears that, from whatever side we consider this question, even apart from the specially cogent evidences above cited, we cannot escape the conclusion that a current passes across or very near to the Pole into the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen.

"This being so, it seems to me that the plain thing for us to do is to make our way into the current on that side of the Pole where it flows northward, and by its help to penetrate into those regions which all who have hitherto worked against it have sought in vain to reach.

"My plan is, briefly, as follows: I propose to have a ship built as small and as strong as possible—just big enough to contain supplies of coals and provisions for twelve men for five years. A ship of about 170 tons (gross) will probably suffice. Its engine should be powerful enough to give a speed of 6 knots; but in addition it must also be fully rigged for sailing.

"The main point in this vessel is that it be built on such principles as to enable it to withstand the pressure of the ice. The sides must slope sufficiently to prevent the ice, when it presses together, from getting firm hold of the hull, as was the case with the Jeannette and other vessels. Instead of nipping the ship, the ice must raise it up out of the water. No very new departure in construction is likely to be needed, for the Jeannette, notwithstanding her preposterous build, was able to hold out against the ice pressure for about two years. That a vessel can easily be built on such lines as to fulfil these requirements no one will question who has seen a ship nipped by the ice. For the same reason, too, the ship ought to be a small one; for, besides being thus easier to manoeuvre in the ice, it will be more readily lifted by the pressure of the ice, not to mention that it will be easier to give it the requisite strength. It must, of course, be built of picked materials. A ship of the form and size here indicated will not be a good or comfortable sea-boat, but that is of minor importance in waters filled with ice such as we are here speaking of. It is true that it would have to travel a long distance over the open sea before it would get so far, but it would not be so bad a sea-boat as to be unable to get along, even though sea-sick passengers might have to offer sacrifices to the gods of the sea.

"With such a ship and a crew of ten, or at the most twelve, able-bodied and carefully picked men, with a full equipment for five years, in every respect as good as modern appliances permit of, I am of opinion that the undertaking would be well secured against risk. With this ship we should sail up through Bering Strait and westward along the north coast of Siberia towards the New Siberian Islands [8] as early in the summer as the ice would permit.

"Arrived at the New Siberian Islands, it will be advisable to employ the time to the best advantage in examining the conditions of currents and ice, and to wait for the most opportune moment to advance as far as possible in ice-free water, which, judging by the accounts of the ice conditions north of Bering Strait given by American whalers, will probably be in August or the beginning of September.

"When the right time has arrived, then we shall plough our way in amongst the ice as far as we can. We may venture to conclude from the experience of the Jeannette expedition that we should thus be able to reach a point north of the most northerly of the New Siberian Islands. De Long notes in his journal that while the expedition was drifting in the ice north of Bennett Island they saw all around them a dark 'water-sky'—that is to say, a sky which gives a dark reflection of open water—indicating such a sea as would be, at all events, to some extent navigable by a strong ice-ship. Next, it must be borne in mind that the whole Jeannette expedition travelled in boats, partly in open water, from Bennett Island to the Siberian coast, where, as we know, the majority of them met with a lamentable end. Nordenskioeld advanced no farther northward than to the southernmost of the islands mentioned (at the end of August) but here he found the water everywhere open.

"It is, therefore, probable that we may be able to push our way up past the New Siberian Islands, and that accomplished we shall be right in the current which carried the Jeannette. The thing will then be simply to force our way northward till we are set fast. [9]

"Next we must choose a fitting place and moor the ship firmly between suitable ice-floes, and then let the ice screw itself together as much as it likes—the more the better. The ship will simply be hoisted up and will ride safely and firmly. It is possible it may heel over to a certain extent under this pressure; but that will scarcely be of much importance. ... Henceforth the current will be our motive power, while our ship, no longer a means of transport, will become a barrack, and we shall have ample time for scientific observations.

"In this manner the expedition will, as above indicated, probably drift across the Pole, and onward to the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen. And when we get down to the 80th degree of latitude, or even sooner, if it is summer, there is every likelihood of our getting the ship free and being able to sail home. Should she, however, be lost before this—which is certainly possible, though, as I think, very unlikely if she is constructed in the way above described—the expedition will not, therefore, be a failure, for our homeward course must in any case follow the polar current on to the North Atlantic basin; there is plenty of ice to drift on, and of this means of locomotion we have already had experience. If the Jeannette expedition had had sufficient provisions, and had remained on the ice-floe on which the relics were ultimately found, the result would doubtless have been very different from what it was. Our ship cannot possibly founder under the ice-pressure so quickly but that there would be time enough to remove, with all our equipment and provisions, to a substantial ice-floe, which we should have selected beforehand in view of such a contingency. Here the tents, which we should take with us to meet this contingency, would be pitched. In order to preserve our provisions and other equipments, we should not place them all together on one spot, but should distribute them over the ice, laying them on rafts of planks and beams which we should have built on it. This will obviate the possibility of any of our equipments sinking, even should the floe on which they are break up. The crew of the Hansa, who drifted for more than half a year along the east coast of Greenland, in this way lost a great quantity of their supplies.

"For the success of such an expedition two things only are required, viz., good clothing and plenty of food, and these we can take care to have with us. We should thus be able to remain as safely on our ice-floe as in our ship, and should advance just as well towards the Greenland Sea. The only difference would be that on our arrival there, instead of proceeding by ship, we must take to our boats, which would convey us just as safely to the nearest harbor.

"Thus it seems to me there is an overwhelming probability that such an expedition would be successful. Many people, however, will certainly urge: 'In all currents there are eddies and backwaters; suppose, then, you get into one of these, or perhaps stumble on an unknown land up by the Pole and remain lying fast there, how will you extricate yourselves?' To this I would merely reply, as concerns the backwater, that we must get out of it just as surely as we got into it, and that we shall have provisions for five years. And as regards the other possibility, we should hail such an occurrence with delight, for no spot on earth could well be found of greater scientific interest. On this newly discovered land we should make as many observations as possible. Should time wear on and find us still unable to get our ship into the set of the current again, there would be nothing for it but to abandon her, and with our boats and necessary stores to search for the nearest current, in order to drift in the manner before mentioned.

"How long may we suppose such a voyage to occupy? As we have already seen, the relics of the Jeannette expedition at most took two years to drift along the same course down to the 80th degree of latitude, where we may, with tolerable certainty, count upon getting loose. This would correspond to a rate of about two miles per day of twenty-four hours.

"We may therefore not unreasonably calculate on reaching this point in the course of two years; and it is also possible that the ship might be set free in a higher latitude than is here contemplated. Five years' provisions must therefore be regarded as ample.

"But is not the cold in winter in these regions so severe that life will be impossible? There is no probability of this. We can even say with tolerable certainty that at the Pole itself it is not so cold in winter as it is (for example) in the north of Siberia, an inhabited region, or on the northern part of the west coast of Greenland, which is also inhabited. Meteorologists have calculated that the mean temperature at the Pole in January is about -33 deg. Fahr. (-36 deg. C), while, for example, in Yakutsk it is -43 deg. Fahr. (-42 deg. C), and in Verkhoyansk -54 deg. Fahr. (-48 deg. C.). We should remember that the Pole is probably covered with sea, radiation from which is considerably less than from large land surfaces, such as the plains of North Asia. The polar region has, therefore, in all probability a marine climate with comparatively mild winters, but, by way of a set-off, with cold summers.

"The cold in these regions cannot, then, be any direct obstacle. One difficulty, however, which many former expeditions have had to contend against, and which must not be overlooked here, is scurvy. During a sojourn of any long duration in so cold a climate this malady will unquestionably show itself unless one is able to obtain fresh provisions. I think, however, it may be safely assumed that the very various and nutritious foods now available in the form of hermetically closed preparations of different kinds, together with the scientific knowledge we now possess of the food-stuffs necessary for bodily health, will enable us to hold this danger at a distance. Nor do I think that there will be an entire absence of fresh provisions in the waters we shall travel through. Polar bears and seals we may safely calculate on finding far to the north, if not up to the very Pole. It may be mentioned also that the sea must certainly contain quantities of small animals that might serve as food in case of necessity.

"It will be seen that whatever difficulties may be suggested as possible, they are not so great but that they can be surmounted by means of a careful equipment, a fortunate selection of the members of the expedition, and judicious leadership; so that good results may be hoped for. We may reckon on getting out into the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen as surely as we can reckon on getting into the Jeannette current off the New Siberian Islands.

"But if this Jeannette current does not pass right across the Pole? If, for instance, it passes between the Pole and Franz Josef Land, as above intimated? What will the expedition do in that case to reach the earth's axis? Yes, this may seem to be the Achilles' heel of the undertaking; for should the ship be carried past the Pole at more than one degree's distance it may then appear extremely imprudent and unsafe to abandon it in mid-current and face such a long sledge-journey over uneven sea-ice, which itself is drifting. Even if one reached the Pole it would be very uncertain whether one could find the ship again on returning. ... I am, however, of opinion that this is of small import: it is not to seek for the exact mathematical point that forms the northern extremity of the earth's axis that we set out, for to reach this point is intrinsically of small moment. Our object is to investigate the great unknown region that surrounds the Pole, and these investigations will be equally important, from a scientific point of view, whether the expedition passes over the polar point itself or at some distance from it."

In this lecture I had submitted the most important data on which my plan was founded; but in the following years I continued to study the conditions of the northern waters, and received ever fresh proofs that my surmise of a drift right across the Polar Sea was correct. In a lecture delivered before the Geographical Society in Christiania, on September 28, 1892, I alluded to some of these inquiries. [10] I laid stress on the fact that on considering the thickness and extent of the drift-ice in the seas on both sides of the Pole, one cannot but be struck by the fact that while the ice on the Asiatic side, north of the Siberian coast, is comparatively thin (the ice in which the Jeannette drifted was, as a rule, not more than from 7 to 10 feet thick), that on the other side, which comes drifting from the north in the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen, is remarkably massive, and this, notwithstanding that the sea north of Siberia is one of the coldest tracts on the earth. This, I suggested, could be explained only on the assumption that the ice is constantly drifting from the Siberian coast, and that, while passing through the unknown and cold sea there is time for it to attain its enormous thickness, partly by freezing, partly by the constant packing that takes place as the floes screw themselves together.

I further mentioned in the same lecture that the mud found on this drift-ice seemed to point to a Siberian origin. I did not at the time attach great importance to this fact, but on a further examination of the deposits I had collected during my Greenland expedition it appeared that it could scarcely come from anywhere else but Siberia. On investigating its mineralogical composition, Dr. Toernebohm, of Stockholm, came to the conclusion that the greater part of it must be Siberian river mud. He found about twenty different minerals in it. "This quantity of dissimilar constituent mineral parts appears to me," he says, "to point to the fact that they take their origin from a very extensive tract of land, and one's thoughts naturally turn to Siberia." Moreover, more than half of this mud deposit consisted of humus, or boggy soil. More interesting, however, than the actual mud deposit were the diatoms found in it, which were examined by Professor Cleve, of Upsala, who says: "These diatoms are decidedly marine (i.e., take their origin from salt-water), with some few fresh-water forms which the wind has carried from land. The diatomous flora in this dust is quite peculiar, and unlike what I have found in many thousands of other specimens, with one exception, with which it shows the most complete conformity—namely, a specimen which was collected by Kellman during the Vega expedition on an ice-floe off Cape Wankarem, near Bering Strait. Species and varieties were perfectly identical in both specimens." Cleve was able to distinguish sixteen species of diatoms. All these appear also in the dust from Cape Wankarem, and twelve of them have been found at that place alone, and nowhere else in all the world. This was a notable coincidence between two such remote points, and Cleve is certainly right in saying: "It is, indeed, quite remarkable that the diatomous flora on the ice-floes off Bering Strait and on the east coast of Greenland should so completely resemble each other, and should be so utterly unlike all others; it points to an open connection between the seas east of Greenland and north of Asia." "Through this open connection," I continued in my address, "drift-ice is, therefore, yearly transported across the unknown Polar Sea. On this same drift-ice, and by the same route, it must be no less possible to transport an expedition."

When this plan was propounded it certainly met with approval in various quarters, especially here at home. Thus it was vigorously supported by Professor Mohn, who, indeed, by his explanation of the drift of the Jeannette relics, had given the original impulse to it. But as might be expected, it met with opposition in the main, especially from abroad, while most of the polar travellers and Arctic authorities declared, more or less openly, that it was sheer madness. The year before we set out, in November, 1892, I laid it before the Geographical Society in London in a lecture at which the principal Arctic travellers of England were present. After the lecture a discussion took place, [11] which plainly showed how greatly I was at variance with the generally accepted opinions as to the conditions in the interior of the Polar Sea, the principles of ice navigation, and the methods that a polar expedition ought to pursue. The eminent Arctic traveller, Admiral Sir Leopold M'Clintock, opened the discussion with the remark: "I think I may say this is the most adventurous programme ever brought under the notice of the Royal Geographical Society." He allowed that the facts spoke in favor of the correctness of my theories, but was in a high degree doubtful whether my plan could be realized. He was especially of opinion that the danger of being crushed in the ice was too great. A ship could, no doubt, be built that would be strong enough to resist the ice pressure in summer; but should it be exposed to this pressure in the winter months, when the ice resembled a mountain frozen fast to the ship's side, he thought that the possibility of being forced up on the surface of the ice was very remote. He firmly believed, as did the majority of the others, that there was no probability of ever seeing the Fram again when once she had given herself over to the pitiless polar ice, and concluded by saying, "I wish the doctor full and speedy success. But it will be a great relief to his many friends in England when he returns, and more particularly to those who have had experience of the dangers at all times inseparable from ice navigation, even in regions not quite so far north."

Admiral Sir George Nares said:

"The adopted Arctic axioms for successfully navigating an icy region are that it is absolutely necessary to keep close to a coast line, and that the farther we advance from civilization, the more desirable it is to insure a reasonably safe line of retreat. Totally disregarding these, the ruling principle of the voyage is that the vessel—on which, if the voyage is in any way successful, the sole future hope of the party will depend—is to be pushed deliberately into the pack-ice. Thus, her commander—in lieu of retaining any power over her future movements—will be forced to submit to be drifted helplessly about in agreement with the natural movements of the ice in which he is imprisoned. Supposing the sea currents are as stated, the time calculated as necessary to drift with the pack across the polar area is several years, during which time, unless new lands are met with, the ice near the vessel will certainly never be quiet and the ship herself never free from the danger of being crushed by ice presses. To guard against this the vessel is said to be unusually strong, and of a special form to enable her to rise when the ice presses against her sides. This idea is no novelty whatever; but when once frozen into the polar pack the form of the vessel goes for nothing. She is hermetically sealed to, and forms a part of, the ice block surrounding her. The form of the ship is for all practical purposes the form of the block of ice in which she is frozen. This is a matter of the first importance, for there is no record of a vessel frozen into the polar pack having been disconnected from the ice, and so rendered capable of rising under pressure as a separate body detached from the ice block, even in the height of summer. In the event of the destruction of the vessel, the boats—necessarily fully stored, not only for the retreat, but for continuing the voyage—are to be available. This is well in theory, but extremely difficult to arrange for in practice. Preparation to abandon the vessel is the one thing that gives us the most anxiety. To place boats, etc., on the ice, packed ready for use, involves the danger of being separated from them by a movement of the ice, or of losing them altogether should a sudden opening occur. If we merely have everything handy for heaving over the side, the emergency may be so sudden that we have not time to save anything..."

As regards the assumed drift of the polar ice, Nares expressed himself on the whole at variance with me. He insisted that the drift was essentially determined by the prevailing winds:

"As to the probable direction of the drift, the Fram, starting from near the mouth of the Lena River, may expect to meet the main pack not farther north than about latitude 76 deg. 30'. I doubt her getting farther north before she is beset, but taking an extreme case, and giving her 60 miles more, she will then only be in the same latitude as Cape Chelyuskin, 730 miles from the Pole, and about 600 miles from my supposed limit of the effective homeward-carrying ocean current. After a close study of all the information we possess, I think the wind will be more likely to drift her towards the west than towards the east. With an ice-encumbered sea north of her, and more open water or newly made ice to the southward, the chances are small for a northerly drift, at all events, at first, and afterwards I know of no natural forces that will carry the vessel in any reasonable time much farther from the Siberian coast than the Jeannette was carried, and during the whole of this time, unless protected by newly discovered lands, she will be to all intents and purposes immovably sealed up in the pack, and exposed to its well-known dangers. There is no doubt that there is an ocean connection across the area proposed to be explored."

In one point, however, Nares was able to declare himself in agreement with me. It was the idea "that the principal aim of all such voyages is to explore the unknown polar regions, not to reach exactly that mathematical point in which the axis of our globe has its northern termination." [12]

Sir Allen Young says, among other things: "Dr. Nansen assumes the blank space around the axis of the earth to be a pool of water or ice; I think the great danger to contend with will be the land in nearly every direction near the Pole. Most previous navigators seem to have continued seeing land again and again farther and farther north. These Jeannette relics may have drifted through narrow channels, and thus finally arrived at their destination, and, I think, it would be an extremely dangerous thing for the ship to drift through them, where she might impinge upon the land, and be kept for years."

With regard to the ship's form, Sir Allen Young says: "I do not think the form of the ship is any great point, for, when a ship is fairly nipped, the question is if there is any swell or movement of the ice to lift the ship. If there is no swell the ice must go through her, whatever material she is made of."

One or two authorities, however, expressed themselves in favor of my plan. One was the Arctic traveller, Sir E. Inglefield, another Captain (now Admiral) Wharton, Director of the Hydrographic Department of England.

In a letter to the Geographical Society, Admiral Sir George H. Richards says, on the occasion of my address: "I regret to have to speak discouragingly of this project, but I think that any one who can speak with authority ought to speak plainly where so much may be at stake."

With regard to the currents, he says: "I believe there is a constant outflow (I prefer this word to current) from the north, in consequence of the displacement of the water from the region of the Pole by the ice-cap which covers it, intensified in its density by the enormous weight of snow accumulated on its surface." This outflow takes place on all sides, he thinks, from the polar basin, but should be most pronounced in the tract between the western end of the Parry Islands and Spitzbergen; and with this outflow all previous expeditions have had to contend. He does not appear to make any exception as to the Tegethoff or Jeannette, and can find no reason "for believing that a current sets north over the Pole from the New Siberian Islands, which Dr. Nansen hopes for and believes in. ... It is my opinion that when really within what may be called the inner circle, say about 78 deg. of latitude, there is little current of any kind that would influence a ship in the close ice that must be expected; it is when we get outside this circle—round the corners, as it were—into the straight wide channels, where the ice is loose, that we are really affected by its influence, and here the ice gets naturally thinner, and more decayed in autumn, and less dangerous to a ship. Within the inner circle probably not much of the ice escapes; it becomes older and heavier every year, and in all probability completely blocks the navigation of ships entirely. This is the kind of ice which was brought to Nares's winter quarters at the head of Smith Sound in about 82 deg. 30' north; and this is the ice which Markham struggled against in his sledge journey, and against which no human power could prevail."

He attached "no real importance" to the Jeannette relics. "If found in Greenland, they may well have drifted down on a floe from the neighborhood of Smith Sound, from some of the American expeditions which went to Greely's rescue." "It may also well be that some of De Long's printed or written documents in regard to his equipment may have been taken out by these expeditions, and the same may apply to the other articles." He does not, however, expressly say whether there was any indication of such having been the case.

In a similar letter to the Geographical Society the renowned botanist Sir Joseph Hooker says: "Dr. Nansen's project is a wide departure from any hitherto put in practice for the purpose of polar discovery, and it demands the closest scrutiny both on this account, and because it is one involving the greatest peril...

"From my experience of three seasons in the Antarctic regions I do not think that a ship, of whatever build, could long resist destruction if committed to the movements of the pack in the polar regions. One built as strongly as the Fram would no doubt resist great pressures in the open pack, but not any pressure or repeated pressures, and still less the thrust of the pack if driven with or by it against land. The lines of the Fram might be of service so long as she was on an even keel or in ice of no great height above the water-line; but amongst floes and bergs, or when thrown on her beam-ends, they would avail her nothing."

If the Fram were to drift towards the Greenland coast or the American polar islands he is of opinion that, supposing a landing could be effected, there would be no probability at all of salvation. Assuming that a landing could be effected, it must be on an inhospitable and probably ice-bound coast, or on the mountainous ice of a palaeocrystic sea. With a certainly enfeebled, and probably reduced ship's company, there could, in such a case, be no prospect of reaching succor. Putting aside the possibility of scurvy (against which there is no certain prophylactic), have the depressing influence on the minds of the crew resulting from long confinement in very close quarters during many months of darkness, extreme cold, inaction, ennui, constant peril, and the haunting uncertainty as to the future, been sufficiently taken into account? Perfunctory duties and occupations do not avert the effects of these conditions; they hardly mitigate them, and have been known to aggravate them. I do not consider the attainment of Dr. Nansen's object by the means at his disposal to be impossible; but I do consider that the success of such an enterprise would not justify the exposure of valuable lives for its attainment.

In America, General Greely, the leader of the ill-fated expedition generally known by his name (1881-84), wrote an article in The Forum (August, 1891), in which he says, among other things: "It strikes me as almost incredible that the plan here advanced by Dr. Nansen should receive encouragement or support. It seems to me to be based on fallacious ideas as to physical conditions within the polar regions, and to foreshadow, if attempted, barren results, apart from the suffering and death among its members. Dr. Nansen, so far as I know, has had no Arctic service; his crossing of Greenland, however difficult, is no more polar work than the scaling of Mount St. Elias. It is doubtful if any hydrographer would treat seriously his theory of polar currents, or if any Arctic traveller would indorse the whole scheme. There are perhaps a dozen men whose Arctic service has been such that the positive support of this plan by even a respectable minority would entitle it to consideration and confidence. These men are: Admiral M'Clintock, Richards, Collinson, and Nares, and Captain Markham of the Royal Navy, Sir Allen Young and Leigh-Smith of England, Koldewey of Germany, Payer of Austria, Nordenskioeld of Sweden, and Melville in our own country. I have no hesitation in asserting that no two of these believe in the possibility of Nansen's first proposition—to build a vessel capable of living or navigating in a heavy Arctic pack, into which it is proposed to put his ship. The second proposition is even more hazardous, involving as it does a drift of more than 2000 miles in a straight line through an unknown region, during which the party in its voyage (lasting two or more years, we are told) would take only boats along, encamp on an iceberg, and live there while floating across."

After this General Greely proceeds to prove the falsity of all my assumptions. Respecting the objects from the Jeannette, he says plainly that he does not believe in them. "Probably some drift articles were found," he says, "and it would seem more reasonable to trace them to the Porteus, which was wrecked in Smith Sound, about 1000 miles north of Julianehaab... It is further important to note that, if the articles were really from the Jeannette, the nearest route would have been, not across the North Pole along the east coast of Greenland, but down Kennedy Channel and by way of Smith Sound and Baffin's Bay, as was suggested, as to drift from the Porteus."

We could not possibly get near the Pole itself by a long distance, says Greely, as "we know almost as well as if we had seen it that there is in the unknown regions an extensive land which is the birthplace of the flat-topped icebergs or the palaeocrystic ice." In this glacier-covered land, which he is of opinion must be over 300 miles in diameter, and which sends out icebergs to Greenland as well as to Franz Josef Land, [13] the Pole itself must be situated.

"As to the indestructible ship," he says, "it is certainly a most desirable thing for Dr. Nansen." His meaning, however, is that it cannot be built. "Dr. Nansen appears to believe that the question of building on such lines as will give the ship the greatest power of resistance to the pressure of the ice-floe has not been thoroughly and satisfactorily solved, although hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent for this end by the seal and whaling companies of Scotland and Newfoundland." As an authority he quotes Melville, and says "every Arctic navigator of experience agrees with Melville's dictum that even if built solid a vessel could not withstand the ice-pressure of the heavy polar pack." To my assertion that the ice along the "Siberian coast is comparatively thin, 7 to 10 feet," he again quotes Melville, who speaks of ice "50 feet high, etc." (something we did not discover, by-the-way, during the whole of our voyage).

After giving still more conclusive proofs that the Fram must inevitably go to the bottom as soon as it should be exposed to the pressure of the ice, he goes on to refer to the impossibility of drifting in the ice with boats. And he concludes his article with the remark that "Arctic exploration is sufficiently credited with rashness and danger in its legitimate and sanctioned methods, without bearing the burden of Dr. Nansen's illogical scheme of self-destruction."

From an article Greely wrote after our return home, in Harper's Weekly for September 19th, 1896, he appears to have come to the conclusion that the Jeannette relics were genuine and that the assumption of their drift may have been correct, mentioning "Melville, Dall, and others" as not believing in them. He allows also that my scheme has been carried out in spite of what he had said. This time he concludes the article as follows: "In contrasting the expeditions of De Long and Nansen, it is necessary to allude to the single blemish that mars the otherwise magnificent career of Nansen, who deliberately quitted his comrades on the ice-beset ship hundreds of miles from any known land, with the intention of not returning, but, in his own reported words, 'to go to Spitzbergen, where he felt certain to find a ship,' 600 miles away. De Long and Ambler had such a sense of honor that they sacrificed their lives rather than separate themselves from a dying man, whom their presence could not save. It passes comprehension how Nansen could have thus deviated from the most sacred duty devolving on the commander of a naval expedition. The safe return of brave Captain Sverdrup with the Fram does not excuse Nansen. Sverdrup's consistency, courage, and skill in holding fast to the Fram and bringing his comrades back to Norway will win for him, in the minds of many, laurels even brighter than those of his able and accomplished chief."

One of the few who publicly gave to my plan the support of his scientific authority was Professor Supan, the well-known editor of Petermann's Mitteilungen. In an article in this journal for 1891 (p. 191), he not only spoke warmly in its favor, but supported it with new suggestions. His view was that what he terms the Arctic "wind-shed" probably for the greater part of the year divides the unknown polar basin into two parts. In the eastern part the prevailing winds blow towards the Bering Sea, while those of the western part blow towards the Atlantic. He thought that, as a rule, this "wind-shed" must lie near the Bering Sea, and that the prevailing winds in the tracts we purposed traversing would thus favor our drift. Our experience bore out Professor Supan's theory in a remarkable degree.



CHAPTER II

PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENT

Foolhardy as the scheme appeared to some, it received powerful support from the Norwegian Government and the King of Norway. A bill was laid before the Storthing for a grant of L11,250 (200,000 kroner), or two-thirds of the estimated cost. The remaining third I hoped to be able to raise from private sources, as I had already received promises of support from many quarters.

On June 30, 1890, the amount demanded was voted by the Storthing, which thereby expressed its wish that the expedition should be a Norwegian one. In January, 1891, Mr. Thomas Fearnley, Consul Axel Heiberg, and Mr. Ellef Ringnes set to work to collect the further sum required, and in a few days the amount was subscribed.

His Majesty King Oscar gave L1125 (20,000 kroner), while private individuals in Norway gave as follows:

L s. d.

Consul Axel Heiberg 562 10 0 Ditto (later) 393 15 0 Mr. Anton Chr. Houen 1125 0 0 Mr. A. Dick, Hoevik 281 5 0 Ditto (later) 393 15 0 Mr. Thomas Fearnley (merchant) 281 5 0 Ditto (later) 56 5 0 Messrs. Ringnes & Co. (brewers) 281 5 0 Ditto (later) 56 5 0 Mr. A. S. Kjoesterud (merchant), Drammen 281 5 0 Ditto (later) 56 5 0 Mr. E. Sundt (merchant), Bergen 281 5 0 Consul Westye Egeberg 562 10 0 Mr. Halver Schou 281 5 0 Baron Harald Wedel Jarlsberg and C. Ioevenskiold, Minister of State 562 10 0 Consul Nicolay H. Knudtzon, Christiansund 281 5 0

Among foreign contributors may be mentioned the Royal Geographical Society of London, which showed its sympathy with the undertaking by subscribing L300 sterling. Baron Oscar Dickson provided at his own cost the electric installation (dynamo accumulators, and conductors).

As the work of equipment proceeded, it appeared that the first estimate was not sufficient. This was especially due to the ship, which was estimated to cost L8437 10s. (150,000 kroner), but which came to nearly double that sum. Where so much was at stake, I did not think it right to study the cost too much, if it seemed that a little extra outlay could insure the successful result of the expedition. The three gentlemen who had taken the lead in the first collection, Mr. Thomas Fearnley, Consul Axel Heiberg, and Mr. Ellef Ringnes, undertook at my request to constitute themselves the committee of the expedition and to take charge of its pecuniary affairs. In order to cover a portion of the deficiency, they, together with certain members of the Council of the Geographical Society, set on foot another private subscription all over the country, while the same society at a later period headed a national subscription. By these means about L956 5s. was collected in all. I had further to petition the Norwegian Storthing for an additional sum of L4500, when our national assembly again gave proof of its sympathy with the undertaking by granting the amount named (June 9, 1890).

Finally Consul Axel Heiberg and Mr. Dick subscribed an additional L337 10s. each, while I myself made up the deficiency that still remained on the eve of our departure.

Statement of Accounts of the Expedition on its Setting Out, 1893.

Income.

Kroner ore. State Grant 280,000 0 H.M. The King, and original private subscribers 105,000 0 Private subscription of the Geographical Society 12,781 23 National subscription 2,287 23 Interest accrued 9,729 78 Guaranteed by private individuals 5,400 0 Deficit covered by A. Heiberg and A. Dick 12,000 0 Ditto F. Nansen 5,400 0 Geographical Society, London (L300) ... H. Simon, Manchester (L100) ... A Norwegian in Riga (1000 roubles) and others . 9,278 62 —————— Total 444,339 36 [14]

Expenditure.

Kroner ore.

Wages account 46,440 0 Life insurance premiums of married participators 5,361 90 Instruments account 12,978 68 Ship account 271,927 8 Provisions account 39,172 98 Expenses account 10,612 38 Equipment account 57,846 34 —————— Total 444,339 36

It will be evident from the plan above expounded that the most important point in the equipment of our expedition was the building of the ship that was to carry us through the dreaded ice regions. The construction of this vessel was accordingly carried out with greater care, probably, than has been devoted to any ship that has hitherto ploughed the Arctic waters. I found in the well-known shipbuilder, Colin Archer, a man who thoroughly understood the task I set him, and who concentrated all his skill, foresight, and rare thoroughness upon the work. We must gratefully recognize that the success of the expedition was in no small degree due to this man.

If we turn our attention to the long list of former expeditions and to their equipments, it cannot but strike us that scarcely a single vessel had been built specially for the purpose—in fact, the majority of explorers have not even provided themselves with vessels which were originally intended for ice navigation. This is the more surprising when we remember the sums of money that have been lavished on the equipment of some of these expeditions. The fact is, they have generally been in such a hurry to set out that there has been no time to devote to a more careful equipment. In many cases, indeed, preparations were not begun until a few months before the expedition sailed. The present expedition, however, could not be equipped in so short a time, and if the voyage itself took three years, the preparations took no less time, while the scheme was conceived thrice three years earlier.

Plan after plan did Archer make of the projected ship; one model after another was prepared and abandoned.

Fresh improvements were constantly being suggested. The form were finally adhered to may seem to many people by no means beautiful; but that it is well adapted to the ends in view I think our expedition has fully proved. What was especially aimed at was, as mentioned on page 29, to give the ship such sides that it could readily be hoisted up during ice-pressure without being crushed between the floes. Greely, Nares, etc., etc., are certainly right in saying that this is nothing new. I relied here simply on the sad experiences of earlier expeditions. What, however, may be said to be new is the fact that we not only realized that the ship ought to have such a form, but that we gave it that form, as well as the necessary strength for resisting great ice-pressure, and that this was the guiding idea in the whole work of construction. Colin Archer is quite right in what he says in an article in the Norsk Tidsskrift for Soevaesen, 1892: "When one bears in mind what is, so to speak, the fundamental idea of Dr. Nansen's plan in his North Pole Expedition ... it will readily be seen that a ship which is to be built with exclusive regard to its suitability for this object must differ essentially from any other previously known vessel....

"In the construction of the ship two points must be especially studied: (1) that the shape of the hull be such as to offer as small a vulnerable target as possible to the attacks of the ice; and (2) that it be built so solidly as to be able to withstand the greatest possible pressure from without in any direction whatsoever."

And thus she was built, more attention being paid to making her a safe and warm stronghold while drifting in the ice than to endowing her with speed or good sailing qualities.

As above stated, our aim was to make the ship as small as possible. The reason of this was that a small ship is, of course, lighter than a large one, and can be made stronger in proportion to her weight. A small ship, too, is better adapted for navigation among the ice; it is easier to handle her in critical moments, and to find a safe berth for her between the packing ice-floes. I was of opinion that a vessel of 170 tons register would suffice, but the Fram is considerably larger, 402 tons gross and 307 tons net. It was also our aim to build a short vessel, which could thread her way easily among the floes, especially as great length would have been a source of weakness when ice-pressure set in. But in order that such a ship, which has, moreover, very sloping sides, shall possess the necessary carrying capacity, she must be broad; and her breadth is, in fact, about a third of her length. Another point of importance was to make the sides as smooth as possible, without projecting edges, while plane surfaces were as much as possible avoided in the neighborhood of the most vulnerable points, and the hull assumed a plump and rounded form. Bow, stern, and keel—all were rounded off so that the ice should not be able to get a grip of her anywhere. For this reason, too, the keel was sunk in the planking, so that barely three inches protruded, and its edges were rounded. The object was that "the whole craft should be able to slip like an eel out of the embraces of the ice."

The hull was made pointed fore and aft, and somewhat resembles a pilot-boat, minus the keel and the sharp garboard strakes. Both ends were made specially strong. The stem consists of three stout oak beams, one inside the other, forming an aggregate thickness of 4 feet (1.25 m.) of solid oak; inside the stem are fitted solid breasthooks of oak and iron to bind the ship's sides together, and from these breasthooks stays are placed against the pawl-bit. The bow is protected by an iron stem, and across it are fitted transverse bars which run some small distance backwards on either side, as is usual in sealers.

The stern is of a special and somewhat particular construction. On either side of the rudder and propeller posts—which are sided 24 inches (65 cm.)—is fitted a stout oak counter-timber following the curvature of the stern right up to the upper deck, and forming, so to speak, a double stern-post. The planking is carried outside these timbers, and the stern protected by heavy iron plates wrought outside the planking.

Between these two counter-timbers there is a well for the screw, and also one for the rudder, through which they can both be hoisted up on deck. It is usual in sealers to have the screw arranged in this way, so that it can easily be replaced by a spare screw should it be broken by the ice. But such an arrangement is not usual in the case of the rudder, and, while with our small crew, and with the help of the capstan, we could hoist the rudder on deck in a few minutes in case of any sudden ice-pressure or the like, I have known it take sealers with a crew of over 60 men several hours, or even a whole day, to ship a fresh rudder.

The stern is, on the whole, the Achilles' heel of ships in the Polar Seas; here the ice can easily inflict great damage, for instance, by breaking the rudder. To guard against this danger, our rudder was placed so low down as not to be visible above water, so that if a floe should strike the vessel aft, it would break its force against the strong stern-part, and could hardly touch the rudder itself. As a matter of fact, notwithstanding the violent pressures we met with, we never suffered any injury in this respect.

Everything was of course done to make the sides of the ship as strong as possible. The frame timbers were of choice Italian oak that had originally been intended for the Norwegian navy, and had lain under cover at Horten for 30 years. They were all grown to shape, and 10-11 inches thick. The frames were built in two courses or tiers, closely wrought together, and connected by bolts, some of which were riveted. Over each joint flat iron bands were placed. The frames were about 21 inches (56 cm.) wide, and were placed close together, with only about an inch or an inch and a half between; and these interstices were filled with pitch and sawdust mixed, from the keel to a little distance above the water-line, in order to keep the ship moderately water-tight, even should the outer skin be chafed through.

The outside planking consists of three layers. The inner one is of oak, 3 inches thick, fastened with spikes and carefully calked; outside this another oak sheathing, 4 inches thick, fastened with through bolts and calked; and outside these comes the ice-skin of greenheart, which like the other planking runs right down to the keel. At the water-line it is 6 inches thick, gradually diminishing towards the bottom to 3 inches. It is fastened with nails and jagged bolts, and not with through bolts; so that if the ice had stripped off the whole of the ice sheathing the hull of the ship would not have suffered any great damage. The lining inside the frame timbers is of pitch-pine planks, some 4, some 8 inches thick; it was also carefully calked once or twice.

The total thickness of the ship's sides is, therefore, from 24 to 28 inches of solid water-tight wood. It will readily be understood that such a ship's side, with its rounded form, would of itself offer a very good resistance to the ice; but to make it still stronger the inside was shored up in every possible way, so that the hold looks like a cobweb of balks, stanchions, and braces. In the first place, there are two rows of beams, the upper deck and between decks, principally of solid oak, partly also of pitch pine; and all of these are further connected with each other, as well as with the sides of the ship, by numerous supports. The accompanying diagrams will show how they are arranged. The diagonal stays are, of course, placed as nearly as possible at right angles to the sides of the ship, so as to strengthen them against external pressure and to distribute its force. The vertical stanchions between both tiers of beams and between the lower beams and keelson are admirably adapted for this latter object. All are connected together with strong knees and iron fastenings, so that the whole becomes, as it were, a single coherent mass. It should be borne in mind that, while in former expeditions it was thought sufficient to give a couple of beams amidships some extra strengthening, every single cross beam in the Fram was stayed in the manner described and depicted.

In the engine-room there was, of course, no space for supports in the middle, but in their place two stay ends were fixed on either side. The beams of the lower deck were placed a little under the water-line, where the ice pressure would be severest. In the after-hold these beams had to be raised a little to give room for the engine. The upper deck aft, therefore, was somewhat higher than the main deck, and the ship had a poop or half-deck, under which were the cabins for all the members of the expedition, and also the cooking-galley. Strong iron riders were worked in for the whole length of the ship in the spaces between the beams, extending in one length from the clamp under the upper deck nearly to the keelson. The keelson was in two tiers and about 31 inches (80 cm.) high, save in the engine-room, where the height of the room only allows one tier. The keel consists of two heavy American elm logs 14 inches square; but, as has been mentioned, so built in that only 3 inches protrude below the outer planking. The sides of the hull are rounded downward to the keel, so that a transverse section at the midship frame reminds one forcibly of half a cocoanut cut in two. The higher the ship is lifted out of the water, the heavier does she, of course, become, and the greater her pressure on the ice, but for the above reason the easier also does it become for the ice to lift. To obviate much heeling, in case the hull should be lifted very high, the bottom was made flat, and this proved to be an excellent idea. I endeavored to determine experimentally the friction of ice against wood, and taking into account the strength of the ship, and the angle of her sides with the surface of the water, I came to the conclusion that her strength must be many times sufficient to withstand the pressure necessary to lift her. This calculation was amply borne out by experience.

The principal dimensions of the ship were as follows: Length of keel, 102 feet; length of water-line, 113 feet; length from stem to stern on deck, 128 feet; extreme breadth, 36 feet; breadth of water-line, exclusive of ice-skin, 34 feet; depth, 17 feet; draught of water with light cargo, 12 1/2 feet; displacement with light cargo, 530 tons; with heavy cargo the draught is over 15 feet and the displacement is 800 tons; there is a freeboard of about 3 feet 6 inches. The hull, with boilers filled, was calculated to weigh about 420 tons, and with 800 tons displacement there should, therefore, be spare carrying power for coal and other cargo to the amount of 380 tons. Thus, in addition to the requisite provisions for dogs and men for more than five years, we could carry coal for four months' steaming at full speed, which was more than sufficient for such an expedition as this.

As regards the rigging, the most important object was to have it as simple and as strong as possible, and at the same time so contrived as to offer the least possible resistance to the wind while the ship was under steam. With our small crew it was, moreover, of the last importance that it should be easy to work from deck. For this reason the Fram was rigged as a three-masted fore-and-aft schooner. Several of our old Arctic skippers disapproved of this arrangement. They had always been used to sail with square-rigged ships, and, with the conservatism peculiar to their class, were of opinion that what they had used was the only thing that could be used in the ice. However, the rig we chose was unquestionably the best for our purpose. In addition to the ordinary fore-and-aft sails we had two movable yards on the foremast for a square foresail and topsail. As the yards were attached to a sliding truss they could easily be hauled down when not in use. The ship's lower masts were tolerably high and massive. The mainmast was about 80 feet high, the maintopmast was 50 feet high, and the crow's-nest on the top was about 102 feet (32 m.) above the water. It was important to have this as high as possible, so as to have a more extended view when it came to picking our way through the ice. The aggregate sail area was about 6000 square feet.

The ship's engine, a triple expansion, was made with particular care. The work was done at the Akers Mechanical Factory, and Engineer Norbeck deserves especial credit for its construction. With his quick insight he foresaw the various possibilities that might occur, and took precautions against them. The triple-expansion system was chosen as being the most economical in the consumption of coal; but as it might happen that one or other of the cylinders should get out of order, it was arranged, by means of separate pipes, that any of the cylinders could be cut off, and thus the other two, or, at a pinch, even one alone, could be used. In this way the engine, by the mere turning of a cock or two, could be changed at will into a compound high-pressure or low-pressure engine. Although nothing ever went wrong with any of the cylinders, this arrangement was frequently used with advantage. By using the engine as a compound one, we could, for instance, give the Fram greater speed for a short time, and when occasion demanded we often took this means of forcing our way through the ice. The engine was of 220 indicated horse-power, and we could in calm weather with a light cargo attain a speed of 6 or 7 knots.

The propellers, of which we had two in reserve, were two-bladed, and made of cast-iron; but we never used either the spare propellers or a spare rudder which we had with us.

Our quarters lay, as before mentioned, abaft under the half-deck, and were arranged so that the saloon, which formed our dining-room and drawing-room, was in the middle, surrounded on all sides by the sleeping-cabins. These consisted of four state-rooms with one berth apiece and two with four berths. The object of this arrangement was to protect the saloon from external cold; but, further, the ceiling, floors, and walls were covered with several thick coatings of non-conducting material, the surface layer, in touch with the heat of the cabin, consisting of air-tight linoleum, to prevent the warm, damp air from penetrating to the other side and depositing moisture, which would soon turn to ice. The sides of the ship were lined with tarred felt, then came a space with cork padding, next a deal panelling, then a thick layer of felt, next air-tight linoleum, and last of all an inner panelling. The ceiling of the saloon and cabins consisted of many different layers: air, felt, deal panelling, reindeer-hair stuffing, deal panelling, linoleum, air and deal panelling, which, with the 4-inch deck planks, gave a total thickness of about 15 inches. To form the floor of the saloon, cork padding, 6 or 7 inches thick, was laid on the deck planks, on this a thick wooden floor, and above all linoleum. The skylight which was most exposed to the cold was protected by three panes of glass, one within the other, and in various other ways. One of the greatest difficulties of life on board ship which former Arctic expeditions had had to contend with was that moisture collecting on the cold outside walls either froze at once or ran down in streams into the berths and on to the floor. Thus it was not unusual to find the mattresses converted into more or less solid masses of ice. We, however, by these arrangements, entirely avoided such an unpleasant state of things, and when the fire was lighted in the saloon there was not a trace of moisture on the walls, even in the sleeping-cabins. In front of the saloon lay the cook's galley, on either side of which was a companion leading to the deck.

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