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Preparations April 1st-4th, 1811

April 1, 2011

In the first few days of April, the Resolution was well into icy waters, and safe from attack from privateers. As in later years, passing beyond about 68 deg latitude seems to bring a reflective air to Scoresby’s otherwise matter of fact journals. On Monday 1st April he records “Light airs fine frosty weather” and notes “The Aurora Borealis was uncommonly brilliant in the twilight it assumed a smoky tinge”. Later in the day, the amount of ice increased, and on the 2nd, the ship became “entangled”.

Having worked their way clear, there was time for the harpooners to begin preparations for their arrival in the whaling grounds. They “cut foregangers, spliced in harpoons and placed two boats at the Quarters of the Ship”. Foregangers were lengths of flexible rope, of about nine yards in length, which were attached at one end to the harpoon, and at the other to the heavy, rigid whale lines. Foregangers made throwing the harpoon easier, and harpooners paid special attention to them, weaving into the splicing ribbons given them by sweethearts and wives.

On April 3rd, in amongst heavy ice, the amount of sail was reduced. The wind increased to a severe gale, and Scoresby discovered that “Through carelessness or mistake of orders” the ship had drifted too far to leeward, and was in amongst large pieces of ice in heavy seas, and snow. The following day, after laying to over night, the Resolution “made all sail” to the East North East. Thursday April 4th was “charmingly fine”. On this day Scoresby records that they had passed 70 deg latitude.

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