Parry's Voyages for the Discovery of the North-West Passage
About midnight on the 27th of January, a brilliant display of the Aurora Borealis was observed. It broke out in a single compact mass of yellow light, appearing but a short distance above the land. This light, notwithstanding its general continuity, sometimes appeared to be composed of numerous groups of rays, compressed laterally, as it were, into one, its limits to right and left being well defined and nearly vertical. Though always very brilliant, it constantly varied in intensity; and this appeared to be produced by one volume of light overlaying another, as we see the darkness of smoke increase when cloud rolls over cloud. While some of the officers were admiring the exceeding beauty of the phenomenon, they were suddenly astonished at seeing a brilliant ray shoot down from the general mass between them and the land, thence distant about three thousand yards.
The principal animals seen were bears, foxes, hares and mice, but no deer or wolves. These appeared but rarely, and the same nay be said of the feathered creation. In July, a canal was sawed in the ice, and the ships were towed to sea. Captain Parry hoped to sail over to the western shore of the inlet, but he had only made eight miles in the intended direction, when he was stopped by the ice. As no opening appeared in that quarter, he determined to try to cross more to the northward. The most he gained was some knowledge of the character of the shores.
On the 30th of July, the ships being beset close to the land, a hard gale brought the ice close upon them. The Hecla received no damage but the breaking of two or three hawsers; but the Fury was forced on shore. She was heaved off again, with little injury, but this was but the commencement of her misfortunes. On the 1st of July, she was again nipped, and so severely strained as to leak a great deal. As the tide fell, her stern, which was aground, was lifted several feet, and the Hecla also remained aground. No place was found where the Fury might be hove down to repair the damage, as the shore was everywhere lined with masses of grounded ice. The ships were again made to float, but it was found, notwithstanding incessant labor on board the Fury, that four pumps constantly going could hardly keep the water under. In these circumstances the only harbor that could be found was formed by grounded masses of ice, within which the water was from three to four fathoms deep at low tide.
On the night of the 2d, the ice came in with great violence, and again forced the Fury on shore. The strength and number of the Hecla's hawsers only saved her from sharing the same fate. In the meanwhile the crew of the Fury were completely exhausted by labor, and their hands had become so sore by the constant friction of the ropes that they could no longer handle them without mittens. In this situation it was determined to land the stores and provisions of the vessel, in order that she might undergo a complete repair.
Accordingly anchors were carried to the beach, by which the grounded icebergs that formed the harbor were secured in their position, thus enclosing a space just sufficient to admit both ships. In this position a great part of the Fury's stores were landed. The injury was found to be more severe than had at first been supposed; indeed, it appeared that the compactness of her fabric had alone saved her from sinking. Nevertheless, no exertion was spared to render her seaworthy again, though the daily pressure of the ice was another, and a very great disadvantage.
In spite of every effort, it was found impossible to save the Fury, and the Hecla was greatly endangered in the attempt. She was compelled to leave the land and drift about among the ice, to avoid being forced on shore. On returning, Captain Parry found that the Fury had been driven farther on the beach than before, and nine feet of water were in her hold. Her keel and bottom were more injured than ever. The first glance satisfied Captain Parry that the vessel could never return to England. By and with the advice of a council of his officers, therefore, he decided to leave her to her fate, and as his provisions would barely suffice for another twelvemonth, to return home. In pursuance of this resolution the Hecla reached Sheerness on the 21st of October. On the eastern shore of Prince Regent's Inlet is Cape Dater, the most southern point attained by the ships in this expedition. It is in latitude 71 deg. 53 min. 30 sec. and longitude 90 deg. 03 min. 45 sec.