Thursday, 10 January 2013

Crossing the Antartic Circle

In January 1773, the Resolution and Adventure were entering the far Southern latitudes, looking for the landmass that the French navigator Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier had called Cape Circumcision.  Cook was instructed to find out if this island was part of an undiscovered southern continent.  The landmass had been incorrectly charted and in fact the first landing on the island, now re-christened Bouvet Island, didn't occur until 1822.

'A view of the ice islands, seen the 9th Jan. 1773' After William Hodges 

On Saturday the 9th January 1773, George Forster wrote; 'in the morning, we saw a large island of ice, surrounded with many small broken pieces, and the weather being moderate we brought to, hoisted out the boats, and sent them to take up as much of the small ice as they could.  We piled up the lumps on the quarter-deck, packed them into casks, and after dinner melted them in the coppers, and obtained about thirty days water, in the course of this day, and in the latitude of 61o 36' south…A picturesque view of some large masses of ice, and of our ships and boats employed in watering from small ice, is inserted in Captain Cook's account of this voyage.'

The ships went on to make the first ever crossing of the Antarctic Circle in 1773, after which Cook sailed along the ice for a further two months, looking for a way to sail further south.