Parry's Voyages for the Discovery of the North-West Passage
A light southern breeze enabled them to steer towards Prince Leopold's Isles, which they found more encumbered with ice than before. Here they saw a great number of nar-whales, lying with their backs above the water in the same manner as the whale, and frequently with their horns erect and quite stationary for several minutes together. Three or four miles to the northward, they discovered an opening, having every appearance of a harbor, with an island near the entrance. It was named Jack son's Bay. The whole of the 14th was consumed in the attempt to find an opening in the ice, but as it remained perfectly close and compact, on the 15th Captain Parry went on shore to make observations. He landed in one of the numerous valleys, which occur on this part of the coast, very much resembling bays, being bounded by high hills, which appear like bluff head-lands. He ascended the hill on the south side of the ravine, which is very steep, and covered with detached blocks of lime-stone, some of which are constantly rolling down, and which afford a very insecure footing. From the top of the hill no water could be seen over the ice to the northwest; and the whole space comprised between the islands and the northern shore, was covered with a bright dazzling blink.
It was a satisfaction, however, to find that no land appeared, and captain Parry was too well aware of the suddenness with which obstructions, occasioned by the ice, are often removed, to be at all discouraged by present appearances. On the top of this hill, he deposited a bottle containing a short notice of his visit, and raised over it a small mound of stones. The wind was light the next day, and the ice being closed, the ships scarcely changed their position. Despairing of being able to penetrate westward, in the neighborhood of Prince Leopold Isles, captain Parry determined to stand towards the northern shore again, and after beating for some hours among the drift ice, the ships got into clear water near the coast. They had just light enough at midnight to see to read and write in the cabin. passing along the shore, they left the ice behind them, and on the 21st they had nothing to hinder their passage westward, but want of wind. But the wind freshening soon after, all sail was made to the westward, where the prospect began to wear a more and more interesting appearance. It was soon perceived that the land along which they were sailing, and which had appeared to be continuous from Baffin's Bay, began now to trend much to the northward, leaving an open space between that coast, and a distant land to the westward, which appeared like an island, of which the extremes to the north and south were distinctly visible. The latter was a remarkable headland, and was named Cape Hotham. They discovered also several headlands on the eastern land; between the northernmost of which and the island to the westward, there was a channel of more than eight leagues in width, in which neither land nor ice could be seen from the mast head. The arrival off this noble channel, to which captain Parry gave the name of Wellington, was an event for which they had all been anxiously looking; for the continuity of land to the northward, had always been a source of uneasiness to them, from the possibility that it might take a turn to the southward, and unite with the coast of America. Every one thought that they were now finally disentangled from the land, which forms the western side of Baffin's Bay; and that in fact they had actually entered the Polar Sea. Fully impressed with this idea, captain Parry gave to this opening the name of Barrow's Straits.
Two thirds of the month of August had now elapsed, and they expected that the sea would remain navigable six weeks more. The ships had suffered no injury, they had a plenty of provisions, the crews were in high health and spirits, and the sea before them, if not open, was at least navigable. On the 23d, a fresh breeze sprung up, and although Wellington channel was open to the northward, captain Parry judged it best to try a large opening south of Cornwallis' island. But their disappointment was extreme, when it was suddenly reported from the crow's nest, that their passage was obstructed by a large body of ice. Lieutenant Beechy discovered, however, that one part of the barrier consisted of loose pieces of ice, and the Hecla being immediately pushed into this part of it, succeeded, after a quarter of an hour's boring,' in forcing her way through the neck. The Griper followed, and they continued their course to the westward, having once more a navigable sea before them. At 2 P. M., having reached longitude 95 deg. 67 min., they came to two extensive floes, which obliged the ships to tack, as there was no passage between them. They then beat to the northward in search of a passage, but none was found. After several unsuccessful attempts to force a passage, they at last succeeded by boring through several heavy streams, and at midnight were enabled to pursue their course to the westward.