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Terra Nova Bay-p3

First the stores landed from the Terra Nova were:

  • Two sledges, one 12 foot and the other a 10 foot with iron runners, both fully loaded with equipment and six week's sledging rations for three men.
  • Biscuits - 7 boxes, although Priestley states 5 cases each containing 42 lbs or 210 lbs total.
  • Pemmican  - 4 bags 56 lbs.
  • Cocoa – one box of 24 tins or 24 lbs.
  • Sugar – 1 box or 26 lbs.
  • Chocolate – 36 lbs
  • Raisins – 2 weekly bags.
  • Cheeses 2.
  • Onions – 1 bag.
  • Oxo – an unknown amount.
  • Oil for primus stoves – 14 tins
  • Spare primus – Campbell’s own.
  • Spare clothing
  • Spare sleeping bag – 1
  • Spare tent poles
  • Spare sledges  – 2, one fitted with iron runners.
  • Bamboo stakes used for depot marking
  • Mast yard for a sledge
  • Reindeer and dog skin for repairing sleeping bags and mits.
  • Personal  clothes –for each member a complete outfit for six weeks summer sledging (Priestley)

How much spare food did Campbell’s party have?  

Priestley states:

In all, theses represented skeleton rations for four weeks, and in the very unlikely event of the ship not reaching Terra Nova Bay before she was obliged to return to New Zealand, we should have to exist on what seals and penguins we could catch before the winter set in. [iii]

 Was it enough?

 With hindsight, this was obviously not enough.  However, it turned out to be just sufficient, with seal and penguins collected on the way, and the Butter Point depot, to eventually get back to the Main Party at Cape Evans.  Remember, everyone considered the return of the ship in six weeks was a certainty.  This they believed, even after experiencing bad ice conditions on the voyage down from Cape Adare.  It was known from the previous expeditions that the sea ice here and further south toward McMurdo Sound was normally bad early in the season.  However, they also knew it would improve when the northerly swells and southerly winds joined forces to break up the ice and send it northward.

 Anyway, it was only going to be six weeks before the Terra Nova’s return, and ice conditions were not going to get worse; in fact they should have been improving.

Priestley was to write later in his book:

This was a very slender outfit with which to face the possibility of a winter, without any other resources than those a very inhospitable country afforded, but we were at the end of our sledging campaign, or so we thought, and had very few things left, and the likelihood of our being cut off seemed so little that Campbell did not feel that he would be justified in broaching the cases intended for the use of the main party.  In the light of what afterwards happened, it may seem to have been a rash thing to have landed in such a place with an equipment insufficient to meet the needs of the party if they should have to winter.  At the time, however, we would all have sworn that if there was one place along the coast which would be accessible in February, this would be the one.  The Drygalski Glacier Tongue to the south of us stretched out for a matter of thirty miles from the coast, and staved off the ice from farther south, forcing it to bank up against its lee side, and then to stream northwards from the point and well away from the land.  Captain Evans, in the Nimrod a few years earlier, had found a fairly clear sea along here at about the same time as we expected the Terra Nova, and in an ordinary year all the ice except the bay ice in the various inlets of the Ross Sea should have been driven north by the blizzards long before February  18th, and the amount of ice remaining should not have been sufficient to restrict the movements of a ship.  In the following year, January 1 9 1 3, we were able to reach our depot at the same spot with comparative ease, and I still maintain that in normal years Evans' Coves would be easily reached.  This happened to be an extraordinarily late season, and the ship was therefore always in difficulties, and so she could not relieve us.  [iv]

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