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Part 4

The S.Y. Aurora’s stay in Commonwealth Bay Adelie Land waiting for Dr Douglas Mawson and the Far East Party to return, working on the Marconi Wireless.
What follows is a page by page copy of Stanley Gordon Roberts Taylor’s original diary of his voyage as a crewman on S.Y.Aurora to Antarctica with Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Exploring Expedition.   The voyage described here is that of 1912-1913, which was sailing to Cape Dennison Adelie Land Antarctica to bring the expeditioners back to Australia.
Part 4 details the period the Steam Yacht (S.Y.) Aurora’s stay in Commonwealth Bay Adelie Land Antarctica waiting for the Far Eastern Party and Dr Douglas Mawson’s return, working on the marconi wireless equipment and working and playing with the sled dogs.
The scan of each page is accompanied by a transcription of the words for ease of reading. This document remains the property of Stanley Taylor’s family and their descendants. Readers are welcome to read, study and share the document, but it may not be used for commercial or financial gain. Copying is permitted provided that the source is cited. © 2011 Irene Gale

Dad's Diary p45 by SpearLily

(Monday 13th January 1913)

Well, we arrive in Commonwealth Bay just after midnight and sighted the settlement at Adelie Land about 1 AM and anchored about two miles off at 2 AM.    We received a wireless message last night from them, but very vague.
They made it out that three or four of the Party are in very bad condition.
We could not make out what was wrong with them.

I do think that they do not know that we are at anchor here yet.   If they did they would have been out by now.
You see, we are two days ahead of our time, owing to us having a good passage, also luck getting through the ice.
We got the motor launch ready to lower into the water before we anchored.

Commonwealth Bay looking down from the hill over the huts towards the bay with a ship (S.Y. Aurora?) at anchor.

Dad's Diary p46 by SpearLily

We will put it over in the morning.
We say morning, but the Lord knows we cannot tell the difference.
We have to look at the clock.
Only for writing this diary, I would not know if it was 12 noon or 12 midnight.

The sun sunk below the horizon at midnight and came up the other side at 1 AM, so you see it is now 4 AM and broad daylight.
The wind blows in gusts.   One time you will see the smoke going straight up from the funnel for about five or ten minutes, then a gust will come across picking the water up in its course and whirling it round and round like a waterspout, high up in the air, as far as you can see.
It minded me of the water spouts I see across the Northern Atlantic Ocean, only there is not so much water in them.

The spouts on the Western Ocean are solid water, and these are only sprays being whirled around.

We are anchored in 30.5 Fathoms of water.
We have the anchor out on the end of 85 Fathoms of cable.

I turned in at 4.30 AM and was awakened at 6 AM by a terrible rumbling noise, then a lot of singing out.

“All hands on deck”.
Well when we got on deck we found that a terrible strong wind had sprung up, and the lashings that held the anchor cable had carried away, and let the rest of the

Dad's Diary p47 by SpearLily

cable that was in the chain locker run out and we lost the lot, about 100 fathoms of cable and anchor.

As luck would have it there was plenty of steam on, so they soon got the engines going.    We then let out the other anchor, but it only has a very small cable.    I myself expect it to go any minute.

We got the motor launch launched about 9 AM but the Chief Engineer could not get engine to go before he took it all adrift and overhauled it.
He got it working by 1.30 PM then the Captain made for the shore.

They went as close as they dare go and took sounding twice, 4.5 Fathoms and 5.5 Fathoms.   Then they made for the settlement, and found that one party had returned two days previous, but Dr. Mawson and his party has not returned yet.

They are expected on the 15th January.

The motor made three trips ashore and brought off three big loads of specimens of all descriptions.
They also brought off one of the exploring party, a Mr. W. Webb of Lyttleton, New Zealand.    And, by Jove, he looked an awful sight, as blue as could be, bar for a white patch where he had just shaved himself.
The cause of the defect in the wireless was one of the masts had been blown down by a blizzard.    The wind was

Dad's Diary p48 by SpearLily

blowing at the rate of three hundred miles an hour.   That is the explorer’s enemy.    These blizzards come and take all the snow with it, and leaves the bare blue ice.   Then the explorer has no foothold.
The only hope they have of escaping is to burrow a hole into deep snow and bury themselves, and if that snow stands the fray, well and good.
If it carries away they can then say goodbye, as they have no hope of escaping it otherwise.
Then another great trouble is snow blindness.   The patient has to be attended to without delay, or he will lose his sight forever.

Just abreast of where we are anchored, there are great ice cliffs about 250ft. high, straight up from the water’s edge, with snow hanging here and there, and my word, they do look pretty.
In the crack where there is no snow, the ice shows all different tints of blue.

The face of these cliffs keep falling away all the time, and tonight, as the ice was drifting out to us, one of the sailors named Schroeder and I was catching it and putting it into our tanks.

We had all the pots, pans and kettles full on the galley fire.  It was very funny.
As the bergs came near the ship, we would put a running bowline on them, and if we could not lift them, we made them fast to the ship’s side while we got smaller pieces aboard.

Well, before long we had no less than 15 great bergs made fast to the ship.
One very large one, ten feet long, five feet across and

Dad's Diary p49 by SpearLily

two feet thick, we named him Jumbo.

If any pieces came along that were out of our reach, we would send Jumbo after them by giving him a good shove with a stick, and when he got on the lee side of the piece we wanted, we would pull Jumbo in with a rope, and he would bring in the other piece with him, and, if the piece was too large for me to lift aboard, we would make it fast with a line.

Well, when we thought we had enough, we swung a boom out and heaved them all on deck till at last it came Jumbo’s turn.    When it came his turn, a breeze had sprung up, making the water choppy.
We started to haul him in, but he was so heavy that we made very slow progress and he began to melt and get slippery, and he slipped out of the rope.
So, we tried a second time as we did not want to lose him, he being the first one we had caught and did us so much service, I rather took a liking to him.
I thought, if we got him aboard, I would keep him for a curio and hang him on my watch guard.

Well, to get on, the second time we got him almost level with the deck, when he slipped again.   He was such a weight, and went down with a force, I reckon he must have touched the bottom, and when he came to the top, he shot right out of the water about two feet in the air.
We let him go then, as I was very near frozen with the cold.  You see, to get the smaller pieces, I was hanging over the side on a jacob’s ladder, in water to my knees.    While I was there, one wave larger than the rest

Dad's Diary p50 by SpearLily

came along, at the same time the ship rolled and ducked me under, wetting me up to my armpits and filled my seaboots.
I marveled at it afterwards that I did not let go, but I hung on all the more.

I was hanging on to a rope with one hand and had a lump of ice under the other arm.    If I had let go, it would have all been up with me as the water was just like ice itself, and I had so many clothes on.

I wear two pairs of sox, two woollen drawers, one serge trousers, one dungaree trousers, two singlets, one jersey and a serge jacket, also a happy hooley (it is a hood that goes over the head and down over the shoulders, also down over the chest, it has a hole in the front for the eyes, nose, and mouth).
All the clothes we wear is made of pure wool, bar the dungaree and seaboots.
So I do not think I would have stood much chance with that lot on, in 40 forty fathoms of water.

We had beautiful weather all day today till 11 PM then it started to blow and at midnight it was blowing a gale.
Some salt water got into our drinking water tank the day after we left Hobart and made the water so brackish that we cannot drink it then to put a top on it, we are starting on salt provisions.

Adelie Land is in Longitude 143° East,   Latitude 67° South.
Adelie Land is the Main Base of Dr. Mawson’s Expedition.

Dad's Diary p51 by SpearLily

Tuesday 14 January 1913   The gale lasted all night and day, so hard that it was impossible to carry on with any transport from the shore.
We had intended working the stores and gear from ashore, and also drag for the anchor, but it is impossible.

We made a bouy out of the barrel that we picked up at sea, the other day.
We will drop it over our anchorage, then when any other ship, or this ship comes along again, they will know where to anchor.  (It only lasted a few days, when it disappeared.)

We could not get any ice today floating about as the wind was too strong.
This morning, when the chaps turned out for breakfast, they said “isn’t there a difference in the water today? “, and they could not make it out, as they did not know about the sailor and myself, fishing for it last night.

Well, when I told them, there was a terrible rush made on the tank to fill up all bottles.

Well, nothing extraordinary has happened today.
Myself and my two mates got half a dozen bags of big round coal and stacked them in the stoke hold, so as if we should need steam at any time in a hurry, we will be able to get the fires going quickly with the big coal.
We are also filling our bunkers with coal out of the hold.

The sun is very bright of a day time, so bright that we cannot look at the shore at all.
Wind blowing 85 miles per hour.   Temperature midday 31°, midnight 31°.

Dad's Diary p52 by SpearLily

Wednesday 15 January 1913   The gale has increased terrible, so that we have to have a man stand by the anchor cable, a mate on the bridge, also a man down below all the time.
We have also put extra lashings on the cable and in case it goes, we have a spare anchor up out of the hold with a very strong hawser made fast, ready to drop over the side.

There is a crust of ice formed right around the ship, 3 inches thick.
The motor launch we had to heave it up in the davits, out of the water at 6 AM.
It was blowing a gale.

I went below to work and when I came on deck again, at 7.30 AM there was not a breath of wind, so we got the launch ready for transporting stuff to the ship.

This evening after tea the captain allowed two of us to go ashore at a time, so I let my two mates go, I shall very likely go tomorrow.

Dr. Mawson’s party has not arrived here yet.

4 AM.   Wind 100 miles per hour.   Temperature 23°   The average speed of the wind for the year is 50 miles per hour.

One party left here with an aeroplane the first week in December.
The people here are very anxious about them.
From the hut there is a steep hill to climb to the top of the ice.
The aeroplane climbed this hill at the rate of 40 miles per hour.

The party consists of Messers Brickerton, Hogman and Dr. Webber.
They towed with them two sledges loaded with stores.    The third sledge they carried in the aeroplane.

Thursday 16 January 1913 (A party arrived at 3 PM consisting of Messers F. Madigan, Correll, & Dr. McClean.    They are all well but hungry.    They have been out 65 days).

Dad's Diary p53 by SpearLily

The party that arrived at 3 PM today had only 64 days provisions with them, so they had to drop off all their specimens because they got weak and cramped through hunger and could not pull the weight.

We are still anxious about the other two parties.

The temperature at 8 PM 25°.   Wind 90 miles per hour.

Friday 17 January 1913   Still no sign of the two parties.
Everybody is getting very anxious.

The motor launch only made two trips today as the wind was blowing so hard, she could not make headway.

I went ashore on her second trip 6 PM and with the Chief Mate, Boatswain and one of the sailors.
We dug trenches to sink dead men in to make stays fast to, so as to strengthen the mast so that we could put up a tagallant mast for the Marconi.
They are going to try and get civilisation with one mast.

We arrived on board at 9.30 PM.   The temperature then was 30°.
Great lumps of ice keep falling off the face of the glacier abreast of us every now and again, but one very large piece, the largest I have seen as yet, fell into the water just after we came on board.
When it struck the water, it roared like half a dozen cannons and it caused a great sea to come out and made the ship dance and roll about good.

Dad's Diary p54 by SpearLily

Saturday 18 January 1913   I turned in at midnight after a very strenuous day’s work and was wakened up again at 1 AM by a terrible row on deck and one of my mates whispering to me in a very scared voice that something was the matter.
But me being half awake and not understanding thoroughly what he said, I (thinking there was danger) jumped out my bunk and rushed up on deck.

When I got up there, found it was one of the parties coming down the hill on sledges at a terrific pace.
They were only in sight three minutes, so you see it did not take me long to turn out.   The party was the ones that went out with the aeroplane.
They returned with two sledges, left all the rest.
They got out 160 miles, that is 320 miles they did altogether.    The aeroplane only did 20 miles then it broke down.
They did very well as one day they were only able to travel two miles owing to a heavy blizzard.

There is only Dr. Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis to come in now.
They are three days overdue.
Mertz and Ninnis are the two largest and strongest men in the camp.

The temperature at 4 AM. was 26°, but the day in general was one of the best we have had.    Two sailors have been ashore all day rigging up the mast.
They very near had it fall over.   They (were) tightening up the stays with a block and tackle and while they were hauling on one stay their gear carried away.   (The mast is for the Marconi.   They are raising it another 15ft.   That will make it 120 feet altogether).

A.A.E., Tracks of sledging parties from the main base 1911-14.

Dad's Diary p55 by SpearLily

Sunday 19th January 1913   This is the fourth Sunday we have had since we left Hobart, and it is beautiful weather, in fact it is quite warm.

I have been playing the Gramaphone on the forecastle head, and the Bo’sun took two Photos of myself and the machine, with the Ice Glacier and sea for a background.    They ought to look well.

I suppose the Skipper thought the sailors might get lazy if they had a holiday on such a fine day, so he gave them a job to get the whaling boat out.   They then trawled for the lost anchor with a three pronged grappling iron that the Chief Engineer and I made during the week.

Captain Davis, the Whaling captain, was in charge of the boat.
About midday the motor launch went to assist them with the 2nd Mate in charge.   They hooked onto something several times, but it gave way every time.   When they heaved in and the rope got straight up and down, they got some very large pieces of kelp.    At 2 o’clock, they hooked on to something solid that they could not budge, so we steamed up to the spot with the ship and tried to hook on to whatever it was with a kedge anchor.
Well, we finished up with breaking two

Dad's Diary p56 by SpearLily

kedge anchors, the grappling iron, also the barrel of the winch, and never found the lost anchor after all.

We then steamed back to our old anchorage, and finished the day’s work at 11.30 PM, then all hands spliced the main brace.

Monday 20th January 1913   The launch went ashore last night and could not get off to the ship till this afternoon, as the tide went out – the lowest it has been since the party came here last year.
This morning they found the launch high and dry.

Tuesday 21st January 1913   All day today has been a flat calm, not a ripple on the water.    A party set out to find the aeroplane.
They found it and brought it back with them.   As it was coming down the hill, they took moving pictures of it on the way.
We could see it all from the ship, they left the wings of it behind them.

The launch has completed a good few trips today carrying ice out for our water tanks.
There was a blue whale cruising around the ship about 11.30 PM but they did not try to catch him, also several seals and Penguins through the day.

Dad's Diary p57 by SpearLily

Wednesday 22nd January 1913   We got a spare topmast up from the hold and took it ashore with a reel of wire, for the Marconi.

I went ashore with it.   Whilst on shore I had a ramble round among the Penguins.    I caught one and he struggled for a while till he found it was no use, then he lay quiet in my arms.
I let him go after a bit, there were millions of them around me.

I see two very large ones have a fight.   They made two or three rushes at one another, then one caught the other by the throat with his beak.
He then hit the other with his flipper for all he was worth, and they hit hard too.    I know that to my sorrow, when I picked that one up in my arms.

The temperature at 4 PM was 27°.
They were rigging the engine, motor, and apparatus up when I got ashore.
They have a lot more to do to it yet.

I also see a seal on shore about six feet long.    I got within 20 feet of him.

Thursday 23rd January 1913    The day is much colder and there is plenty of ice being blown off the face of the barrier by the wind, which is blowing very strong.

A party set out today to search for Dr. Mawson.
They are expected to be back not later than the 30th.

Dad's Diary p58 by SpearLily

Friday 24th January 1913   The day was very windy and the launch was unable to put off from the ship all day.

Saturday 25th January 1913   The wind was blowing strong all the morning, but all went well till 7.30 PM when the ship began to drag the anchor.
About 7.50 PM an extra squall came over and she was dragging very fast, when the anchor must have caught on a rock for the ship brought up with a jerk, then the cable parted.

We had the engines going at 7.55 PM so you see we did not waste any time.
I happened to be down in the engine room at the time having a warm, as the weather was extremely cold.
By the time we got the ship about we were well out to sea.
We got her nose into the wind and the engines going at full bore, but never moved an inch.

The worst part of it was they could not see for snow.
We were very lucky, as we are nearly surrounded by a reef of rocks.

Well, towards morning, 6 am. (next morn. 26th) we got another anchor ready on the end of sixty fathoms of cable, all we have left.
We lost sixty fathoms of cable with

Dad's Diary p59 by SpearLily

the anchor that we lost.

Sunday 26th January 1913    At 7.20 AM we let go the other anchor and we gave a sigh as it went over, as it is our last hope, we have no more cable or anchors.

Previous to the cable carrying away, the Chief Engineer and Chief Mate went ashore.    They were not ashore more than an hour when the cable went, so with the two sailors that were ashore that made us four hands short.

Soon after we anchored, the wind sprung up again and at 9 AM I see the launch trying to get out to us, but was very near swamped and had to turn back again.    It was midday before they could get off.

We kept getting strong gusts of wind all the afternoon off the land, till about 7PM.    It then calmed down, from 8 till 12 there was hardly any wind.

Monday 27th January 1913    It started to blow after midnight, and at 1 AM it was blowing a Gale and continued to do so all through the night.
I went on watch at 8 AM and kept getting strong gusts of wind off the land,

Dad's Diary p60 by SpearLily

picking up snow and water in its course so much that we could not see the water over the side.

At 11.25 AM our last hope carried away with 5 fathoms of cable.
We had the engines under way in less than a minute after the cable went.

So now, as we have only about 55 fathoms of cable and no anchors, we have to drift about.    We keep our head on to land and when a gust of wind comes we put the engines full ahead.
So, we are in for a lively and anxious time these next four days.
That is three anchors gone now, in the same place.

Tuesday 28th January 1913    We shackled some old pieces of cable on to the old cable and made it about 60 fathoms in length.
We then shackled on to it a small kedge anchor and dropped it over the side.
It acted to a certain extent, as soon as we see any wind coming we had to start the engines, as this anchor would not stand any strain.

Dr. Mawson has not put in an appearance yet.   Great anxiety is being felt.
In fact the party ashore think he is no more, as he took seven weeks provisions with him and he is now near ten weeks out.

Dad's Diary p61 by SpearLily

Wednesday 29th January 1913   The weather today is moderate, a little wind, the sun is out and it is quite warm.

I have been working and knocking about in just a singlet, no shirt or jersey on.

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