Parry's Voyages for the Discovery of the North-West Passage
The situation in which the ships were now placed, and the shortness of the navigable season, caused great anxiety. Judging from the experience of 1819, it was reasonable to conclude that about the 7th of September, was the limit beyond which the ships could not keep the sea with any degree of safety or prospect of success; but being thoroughly impressed with the idea that it was incumbent on him to make every possible effort, Captain Parry determined to extend this limit to the 14th of September, before which date the winter would have set in. The prospect was not very encouraging, even with this extension; they had only advanced sixty miles this season, and the distance to Icy Cape was yet between eight and nine hundred miles, supposing them to find a clear passage. The provisions, too, were so far reduced in quantity, that by no means could they be made to hold out longer than till April, 1822, and the deficiency of fuel was even more apparent. These and other minor considerations, induced Captain Parry to ask the advice and opinions of his officers relative to the expediency of returning to England. They all agreed that any attempt to penetrate farther westward in their present parallel, would be fruitless, and attended with loss of time that might be more profitably employed elsewhere. They advised that the vessel should run back along the edge of the ice, in order to look for an opening that might lead toward the American continent, and after a reasonable time spent in the search, to return to England. This advice agreeing with his own opinions, Captain Parry resolved to comply with it.
On the twenty-fourth the ships moved again, and found less ice as they advanced, so that when, on the morning of the 27th, they cleared the east end of Melville Island, the navigable channel was not less than ten miles wide. A constant look-out was kept from the crow's nest for an opening to the south, but none occurred. The weather was hazy, so much so that they were again obliged to steer the ships one by the other. As they proceeded, several islands hitherto unknown, were discovered, but no opening was seen in the ice, and when they had, on the 30th, reached longitude 90 degrees they became satisfied that there was no possibility of effecting their object, and Captain Parry, therefore, conceived it to be his duty to return forthwith to England, in order that no time might be lost in following up his discoveries, if his government should deem fit to do so.
The Hecla arrived at the Orkney Islands on the 28th of October; and the Griper on the first of November. Thus did they return from a voyage of eighteen months duration, in good health and spirits, with the loss of only one man.
SECOND VOYAGE. The discoveries made by the expedition under Captain Parry in 1819-20, being believed to afford a strong presumption of the existence of a Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean, the British government commanded that another attempt should be made to discover it. The Hecla having been found well adapted to this kind of service, the Fury, a ship of precisely the same class, was selected to accompany her. Captain George F. Lyon was appointed to command the Hecla, and Captain Parry, whose efforts had made him justly celebrated, was commissioned to command the expedition.
Some alterations in the interior arrangements of the vessels, such as were suggested by the experience of Captain Parry, were made. Among these was an apparatus for melting snow, which was found very useful, and was so little in the way that it could not even be seen. Cots and hammocks were substituted for the former bed places, and some improvements were made in the manner of victualing the ships.
In his official instructions, Captain Parry was directed to proceed into Hudson's Strait, till he should meet the ice, when the Nautilus Transport, which was placed at his disposal, was to be cleared of its provisions and stores. He was then to penetrate westward, till he should reach some land which he should be convinced was a part of the American continent, at some point north of Wager River. If he reached the Pacific, he was to proceed to Kamschatka; thence to Canton or the Sandwich Islands, and thence to England, by whatever route he might deem most convenient.
Accordingly, in the beginning of April, 1821, the three vessels sailed from England. Nothing worthy of note occurred till they met with the ice in Davis' Strait, where the vessels were moored to an iceberg, and the Nautilus was unladen. This done, she parted company on the 1st of July, and sailed for England, while the Fury and Hecla stood towards the ice, which they reached a little before noon, and ran along its edge, keeping as much to the westward as possible.
On the 24th they reached the Savage Islands, and landed on one of them. They are many - all exhibiting the same appearance of utter sterility. That on which they landed was from six to eight hundred feet above the level of the sea. Here they noticed the same appearances of an Esquimaux camp as had been seen at Melville Island, with a few pieces of fir, which proved that the savages, in these parts, were not in want of wood, since they could afford to leave it behind them. Hares and several species of birds were seen on this island.