They saw the cables loosened, they saw the gangways cleared, 
  They heard the women weeping, they heard the men who cheered. 
  Far off-far off the tumult faded and died away. 
  And all alone the sea wind came singing up the Bay. 

On July 31, 1901, the Discovery left the London Docks, and slowly wended her way down the Thames; and at Cowes, on August 5, she was honored by a visit from King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. This visit must be ever memorable for the interest their Majesties showed in the minutest details of equipment; but at the same time it was natural for the members of the expedition to be obsessed by the fear that they might start with a flourish of trumpets and return with failure. The grim possibilities of the voyage were also not to be forgotten - a voyage to the Antarctic, the very map of which had remained practically unaltered from 1843-93.

With no previous Polar experience to help him, Scott was following on the track of great Polar explorers, notably of James Cook and James Ross, of whom it has been well said that the one defined the Antarctic region and the other discovered it. Can it be wondered therefore that his great anxieties were to be off and doing, to justify the existence of the expedition at the earliest possible moment, and to obey the instructions which had been given him?

Before the Discovery had crossed the Bay of Biscay it was evident that she did not possess a turn of speed under any conditions, and that there must be none but absolutely necessary delays on the voyage, if she was to arrive in the Antarctic in time to take full advantage of the southern summer of 1901-2 for the first exploration in the ice. This proved a serious drawback, as it had been confidently expected that there would be ample time to make trial of various devices for sounding and dredging in the deep sea, while still in a temperate climate. The fact that no trials could be made on the outward voyage was severely felt when the Antarctic was reached.

On October 2 the Discovery arrived within 150 miles of the Cape, and on the 5th was moored off the naval station at Simon's Bay. The main object of staying at the Cape was to obtain comparisons with the magnetic instruments, but Scott wrote: 'It is much to be deplored that no permanent Magnetic Station now exists at the Cape. The fact increased the number and difficulty of our own observations, and it was quite impossible to spare the time for such repetitions and verifications as, under the circumstances, could alone have placed them beyond dispute.' Armitage and Barne, however, worked like Trojans in taking observations, and received so much valuable assistance 'that they were able to accomplish a maximum amount of work in the limited time at their disposal.' In every way, indeed, the kindliest sympathy was shown at the Cape.

The magnetic work was completed on October 12, and two days later the Discovery once more put out to sea; and as time went on those on board became more and more satisfied with her seaworthy qualities. Towards the end of October there was a succession of heavy following gales, but she rose like a cork to the mountainous seas that followed in her wake, and, considering her size, she was wonderfully free of water on the upper deck. With a heavy following sea, however, she was, owing to her buoyancy, extremely lively, and rolls of more than 40º were often recorded. The peculiar shape of the stern, to which reference has been made, was now well tested. It gave additional buoyancy to the after-end, causing the ship to rise more quickly to the seas, but the same lifting effect was also directed to throwing the ship off her course, and consequently she was difficult to steer. The helmsmen gradually became more expert, but on one occasion when Scott and some other officers were on the bridge the ship swerved round, and was immediately swept by a monstrous sea which made a clean breach over her. Instinctively those on the bridge clutched the rails, and for several moments they were completely submerged while the spray dashed as high as the upper topsails.

On November 12 the Discovery was in lat. 51 S., long. 131 E., and had arrived in such an extremely interesting magnetic area that they steered to the south to explore it. This new course took them far out of the track of ships and towards the regions of ice, and they had scarcely arrived in those lonely waters when Scott was aroused from sleep by a loud knocking and a voice shouting, 'Ship's afire, sir.' Without waiting to give any details of this alarming news the informant fled, and when Scott appeared hastily on the scenes he found that the deck was very dark and obstructed by numerous half-clad people, all of whom were as ignorant as he was. Making his way forward he discovered that the fire had been under the forecastle, and had been easily extinguished when the hose was brought to bear on it. In these days steel ships and electric light tend to lessen the fear of fire, but in a wooden vessel the possible consequences are too serious not to make the danger very real and alarming. Henceforth the risk of fire was constantly in Scott's thoughts, but this was the first and last occasion on which an alarm was raised in the Discovery.

On November 15 the 60th parallel was passed, and during the following morning small pieces of sea-ice, worn into fantastic shape by the action of the waves, appeared and were greeted with much excitement and enthusiasm. As the afternoon advanced signs of a heavier pack were seen ahead, and soon the loose floes were all about the ship, and she was pushing her way amongst them and receiving her baptism of ice.

This was Scott's first experience of pack-ice, and he has recorded how deeply he was impressed by the novelty of his surroundings. 'The wind had died away; what light remained was reflected in a ghostly glimmer from the white surface of the pack; now and again a white snow petrel flitted through the gloom, the grinding of the floes against the ship's side was mingled with the more subdued hush of their rise and fall on the long swell, and for the first time we felt something of the solemnity of these great Southern solitudes.'

The Discovery was now within 200 miles of Adélie Land, and with steam could easily have pushed on towards it. But delays had already been excessive, and they could not be added to if New Zealand was to be reached betimes. Reluctantly the ship's head was again turned towards the North, and soon passed into looser ice.

One great feature of the tempestuous seas of these southern oceans is the quantity and variety of their bird life. Not only are these roaming, tireless birds to be seen in the distance, but in the majority of cases they are attracted by a ship and for hours gather close about her. The greater number are of the petrel tribe, and vary in size from the greater albatrosses, with their huge spread of wing and unwavering flight, to the small Wilson stormy petrel, which flits under the foaming crests of the waves. For centuries these birds have been the friends of sailors, and as Wilson was able to distinguish and name the various visitors to the Discovery, the interest of the voyage was very greatly increased.

'At 11 A.M. on the 22nd,' Scott wrote in his official report of the Proceedings of the expedition, 'we sighted Macquarie Island, exactly at the time and in the direction expected, a satisfactory fact after so long an absence from land. As the island promised so much of interest to our naturalists I thought a delay of the few hours necessary for landing would be amply justified.... A landing was effected without much difficulty, and two penguin rookeries which had been observed from the ship were explored with much interest. One proved to be inhabited by the beautifully marked King penguin, while the other contained a smaller gold-crested broad-billed species.... At 8 P.M. the party returned to the ship, and shortly after we weighed anchor and proceeded. Including those collected in the ice, we had no fewer than 50 birds of various sorts to be skinned, and during the next few days several officers and men were busily engaged in this work under the superintendence of Dr. Wilson. The opportunity was taken of serving out the flesh of the penguins for food. I had anticipated considerable prejudice on the part of the men to this form of diet which it will so often be essential to enforce, and was agreeably surprised to find that they were by no means averse to it. Many pronounced it excellent, and all seemed to appreciate the necessity of cultivating a taste for it. I found no prejudice more difficult to conquer than my own.'

Perhaps the most excited member of the party over this visit to Macquarie Island was Scott's Aberdeen terrier 'Scamp,' who was most comically divided between a desire to run away from the penguins, and a feeling that in such strange company it behooved him to be very courageous. This, however, was Scamp's first and last experience of penguins, for it was felt that he would be unable to live in the Antarctic, and so a comfortable home was found for him in New Zealand.

Late on November 29 the Discovery arrived off Lyttelton Heads, and on the following day she was berthed alongside a jetty in the harbor. For both the private and the public kindness which was shown to the expedition in New Zealand, no expressions of gratitude can be too warm. On every possible occasion, and in every possible way, efficient and kindly assistance was given, and this was all the more valuable because a lot of work had to be done before the ship could sail from Lyttelton. The rigging had to be thoroughly overhauled and refitted; the magneticians had to undertake the comparison of their delicate instruments, and as this was the last occasion on which it could be done special attention was necessary; and a large quantity of stores had to be shipped, because some of those in the Discovery had been damaged by the leaky state of the ship. This leak had never been dangerous, but all the same it had entailed many weary hours of pumping, and had caused much waste of time and of provisions. Among the many skilled workmen, whose united labor had produced the solid structure of the Discovery's hull, had been one who had shirked his task, and although the ship was docked and most determined and persistent efforts were made to find the leak, it succeeded in avoiding detection.

As the month of December advanced the scene on the ship was a very busy one, but at last the day for sailing from Lyttelton arrived, though not for the final departure from civilization, because a short visit was to be paid to Port Chalmers in the south to complete the stock of coal. On Saturday, December 21, the ship lay alongside the wharf ready for sea and very deeply laden. 'One could reflect that it would have been impossible to have got more into her, and that all we had got seemed necessary for the voyage, for the rest we could only trust that Providence would vouch-safe to us fine weather and an easy passage to the south.'

New Zealand, to the last, was bent on showing its enthusiasm for the expedition. Two men-of-war steamed slowly out ahead of the Discovery, while no fewer than five steamers, crowded with passengers, and with bands playing and whistles hooting, also accompanied her, until the open sea was reached and the Discovery slowly steamed out between the war-ships that seemed to stand as sentinels to the bay. And then, before the cheers of thousands of friends were hardly out of the ears of those on board, a tragedy happened. Among the ship's company who had crowded into the rigging to wave their farewells was one young seaman, named Charles Bonner, who, more venturesome than the rest, had climbed above the crow's-nest to the top of the main-mast. There, seated on the truck, he had remained cheering, until in a moment of madness he raised himself into a standing position, and almost directly afterwards he fell and was instantaneously killed. On the Monday the ship arrived at Port Chalmers, and Bonner was buried with naval honors.

By noon on the following day the Discovery was clear of the harbor bar, and was soon bowling along under steam and sail towards the south. The last view of civilization, the last sight of fields and flowers had come and gone on Christmas Eve, 1901, and Christmas Day found the ship in the open expanse of the Southern Ocean, though after such a recent parting from so many kind friends no one felt inclined for the customary festivities.

In good sea trim the Discovery had little to fear from the worst gales, but at this time she was so heavily laden that had she encountered heavy seas the consequences must have been very unpleasant. Inevitably much of her large deck cargo must have been lost; the masses of wood on the superstructure would have been in great danger, while all the sheep and possibly many of the dogs would have been drowned. Fine weather, however, continued, and on January 3 Scott and his companions crossed the Antarctic Circle, little thinking how long a time would elapse before they would recross it. At length they had entered the Antarctic regions; before them lay the scene of their work, and all the trials of preparation, and the anxiety of delays, were forgotten in the fact that they had reached their goal in time to make use of the best part of the short open season in these icebound regions.

Soon the pack was on all sides of them, but as yet so loose that there were many large pools of open water. And then for several days the ship had really to fight her way, and Scott gave high praise to the way she behaved: 'The "Discovery" is a perfect gem in the pack. Her size and weight behind such a stem seem to give quite the best combination possible for such a purpose. We have certainly tried her thoroughly, for the pack which we have come through couldn't have been looked at by Ross even with a gale of wind behind him.'

Necessarily progress became slow, but life abounds in the pack, and the birds that came to visit the ship were a source of perpetual interest. The pleasantest and most constant of these visitors was the small snow petrel, with its dainty snow-white plumage relieved only by black beak and feet, and black, beady eye. These little birds abound in the pack-ice, but the blue-grey southern fulmar and the Antarctic petrel were also to be seen, and that unwholesome scavenger, the giant petrel, frequently lumbered by; while the skua gull, most pugnacious of bullies, occasionally flapped past, on his way to make some less formidable bird disgorge his hard-earned dinner.

The squeak of the penguin was constantly heard, at first afar and often long before the birds were seen. Curiosity drew them to the ship, and as she forced her way onward these little visitors would again and again leap into the water, and journey from floe to floe in their eagerness to discover what this strange apparition could be. Some of the sailors became very expert in imitating their calls, and could not only attract them from a long distance, but would visibly add to their astonishment when they approached. These were busy days for the penguins.

In all parts of the pack seals are plentiful and spend long hours asleep on the floes. The commonest kind is the crab-eater or white seal, but the Ross seal is not rare, and there and there is found the sea-leopard, ranging wide and preying on the penguins and even on the young of its less powerful brethren. It is curious to observe that both seals and penguins regard themselves as safe when out of the water. In the sea they are running risks all the time, and in that element Nature has made them swift to prey or to avoid being preyed upon. But once on ice or land they have known no enemy, and cannot therefore conceive one. The seal merely raises its head when anyone approaches, and then with but little fear; whereas it is often difficult to drive the penguin into the water, for he is firmly convinced that the sea is the sole source of danger. Several seals were killed for food, and from the first seal-meat was found palatable, if not altogether the form of diet to recommend to an epicure. The great drawback to the seal is that there is no fat except blubber, and blubber has a very strong taste and most penetrating smell. At this time blubber was an abomination to everyone both in taste and smell, and if the smallest scrap happened to have been cooked with the meat, dinner was a wasted meal. Later on, however, this smell lost most of its terrors, while seal-steaks and seal-liver and kidneys were treated almost as luxuries.

On the morning of January 8 a strong water sky could be seen, and soon afterwards the officer of the watch hailed from aloft the glad tidings of an open sea to the south. Presently the ship entered a belt where the ice lay in comparatively small pieces, and after pushing her way through this for over a mile, she reached the hard line where the ice abruptly ended, and to the south nothing but a clear sky could be seen. At 10.30 P.M. on the same evening the joy of being again in the open sea was intensified by a shout of 'Land in sight,' and all who were not on deck quickly gathered there to take their first look at the Antarctic Continent. The sun, near the southern horizon, still shone in a cloudless sky, and far away to the south-west the blue outline of the high mountain peaks of Victoria Land could be seen. The course was now directed for Robertson Bay, and after some difficulty, owing to the reappearance of loose streams of pack-ice, the ship was eventually steered into the open water within the bay.

Robertson Bay is formed by the long peninsula of Cape Adare, within which, standing but slightly above the level of the sea, is a curious triangular spit, probably the morainic remains of the vaster ice conditions of former ages. It was on this spit that the expedition sent forth by Sir George Newnes and commanded by Borchgrevink spent their winter in 1896, the first party to winter on the shores of the Antarctic Continent. Here Scott decided to land for a short time, and very soon Armitage, Bernacchi and Barne were at work among the thousands of penguins that abounded, while the naturalists wandered further afield in search of specimens. In the center of Cape Adare beach the hut used by the members of Borchgrevink's party was still found to be standing in very good condition, though at the best of times deserted dwellings are far from cheerful to contemplate. Bernacchi had been a member of this small party of eight, and on the spot he recalled the past, and told of the unhappy death of Hanson - one of his comrades.

Later on Bernacchi and some others landed again to visit Hanson's grave, and to see that all was well with it. They took a tin cylinder containing the latest report of the voyage with them, and were told to place it in some conspicuous part of the hut. In the following year this cylinder was found by the Morning, [Footnote: The relief ship.] and so the first information was given that the Discovery had succeeded in reaching these southern regions.

On January 10, when the weather was still calm and bright, the ship again stood out to sea, and was steered close around Cape Adare in the hope of finding a clear channel near at hand. Very soon, however, the tidal stream began to make from the south, and the whole aspect of the streams of heavy pack-ice rapidly changed. Almost immediately the pack was about the ship, and she was being rapidly borne along with it. Across the entrance to the bay was a chain of grounded icebergs, and it was in this direction that she was being carried. For the first time they faced the dangers of the pack, and realized its mighty powers. Little or nothing could be done, for the floes around them were heavier than anything they had yet encountered. Twist and turn as they would no appreciable advance could be made, and in front of one colossal floe the ship was brought to a standstill for nearly half an hour. But they still battled on; Armitage remained aloft, working the ship with admirable patience; the engine-room, as usual, answered nobly to the call for more steam, and the Discovery exerted all her powers in the struggle; but, in spite of these efforts, progress was so slow that it looked almost certain that she would be carried down among the bergs. 'It was one of those hours,' Scott says, 'which impress themselves for ever on the memory. Above us the sun shone in a cloudless sky, its rays were reflected from a myriad points of tire glistening pack; behind us lay the lofty snow-clad mountains, the brown sun-kissed cliffs of the Cape, and the placid glassy waters of the bay; the air about us was almost breathlessly still; crisp, clear and sun-lit, it seemed an atmosphere in which all Nature should rejoice; the silence was broken only by the deep panting of our engines and the slow, measured hush of the grinding floes; yet, beneath all, ran this mighty, relentless tide, bearing us on to possible destruction. It seemed desperately unreal that danger could exist in the midst of so fair a scene, and as one paced to and fro on the few feet of throbbing plank that constituted our bridge, it was difficult to persuade oneself that we were so completely impotent.'

With the exception of Scott himself only those who were actually on watch were on deck during this precarious time, for the hour was early, and the majority were asleep in their bunks below, happily oblivious of the possible dangers before them. And the fact that they were not aroused is a proof that a fuss was rarely made in the Discovery, if it could by any conceivable means be avoided.

At last, however, release came from this grave danger, and it came so gradually that it was difficult to say when it happened. Little by little the tidal stream slackened, the close-locked floes fell slightly apart, and under her full head of steam the ship began to forge ahead towards the open sea and safety. 'For me,' Scott adds, 'the lesson had been a sharp and, I have no doubt, a salutary one; we were here to fight the elements with their icy weapons, and once and for all this taught me not to undervalue the enemy.' During the forenoon the ship was within seven or eight miles of the high bold coast-line to the south of Cape Adare, but later she had to be turned outwards so that the heavy stream of pack-ice drifting along the land could be avoided. By the morning of the 11th she was well clear of the land, but the various peaks and headlands which Sir James Ross had named could be distinctly seen, and gave everyone plenty to talk and think about. Progress, however, was slow, owing to a brisk S. E. wind and the fact that only one boiler was being used.

Of all economies practiced on board the most important was that of coal, but Scott was not at all sure that this decision to use only one boiler was really economical. Certainly coal was saved but time was also wasted, and against an adverse wind the Discovery could only make fifty-five miles on the 11th, and on the 12th she scarcely made any headway at all, for the wind had increased and a heavy swell was coming up from the south.

To gain shelter Scott decided to turn in towards the high cliffs of Coulman Island, the land of which looked illusively near as they approached it. So strong was this deception that the engines were eased when the ship was still nearly two miles away from the cliffs. Later on, in their winter quarters and during their sledge journeys, they got to know how easy it was to be deluded as regards distance, and what very false appearances distant objects could assume. This matter is of interest, because it shows that Polar explorers must be exceedingly cautious in believing the evidence of their own eyes, and it also explains the errors which the Discovery expedition found to have been made by former explorers, and which they knew must have been made in all good faith.

During the night of the 13th the ship lay under the shelter of Coulman Island, but by the morning the wind had increased to such a furious gale, and the squalls swept down over the cliffs with such terrific violence, that in spite of every effort to keep her in her station she began to lose ground. In the afternoon the wind force was ninety miles an hour, and as they continued to lose ground they got into a more choppy sea, which sent the spray over them in showers, to freeze as it fell.

Again the situation was far from pleasant; to avoid one berg they were forced to go about, and in doing so they ran foul of another. As they came down on it the bowsprit just swept clear of its pinnacled sides, and they took the shock broad on their bows. It sent the ship reeling round, but luckily on the right tack to avoid further complications. The following night was dismal enough; again and again small bergs appeared through the blinding spray and drift, and only with great difficulty could the unmanageable ship be brought to clear them. Even gales, however, must have an end, and towards morning the wind moderated, and once more they were able to steam up close to the island. And there, between two tongues of ice off Cape Wadworth, they landed on the steep rocks and erected a staff bearing a tin cylinder with a further record of the voyage. By the time this had been done the wind had fallen completely, and in the evening the ship entered a long inlet between Cape Jones and the barrier-ice, and later turned out, of this into a smaller inlet in the barrier-ice itself. She was now in a very well-sheltered spot, and night, as often happened in the Antarctic regions, was turned into day so that several seals could be killed. 'It, seemed a terrible desecration,' Scott says, 'to come to this quiet spot only to murder its innocent inhabitants, and stain the white snow with blood.' But there was the best of all excuses, namely necessity, for this massacre, because there was no guarantee that seals would be found near the spot in which the ship wintered, and undoubtedly the wisest plan was to make sure of necessary food.

While the seal carcasses and some ice for the boilers were being obtained, Scott turned in to get some rest before putting out to sea again, and on returning to the deck at 7.30 he was told that the work was completed, but that some five hours before Wilson, Ferrar, Cross and Weller had got adrift of a floe, and that no one had thought of picking them up. Although the sun had been shining brightly all night, the temperature had been down to 18°, and afar off Scott could see four disconsolate figures tramping about, and trying to keep themselves warm on a detached floe not more than fifteen yards across.

When at length the wanderers scrambled over the side it was very evident that they had a grievance, and not until they had been warmed by hot cocoa could they talk with ease of their experiences. They had been obliged to keep constantly on the move, and when they thought of smoking to relieve the monotony they found that they had pipes and tobacco, but no matches. While, however, they were dismally bemoaning this unfortunate state of affairs Wilson, who did not smoke, came to the rescue and succeeded in producing fire with a small pocket magnifying glass - a performance which testified not only to Wilson's resource, but also to the power of the sun in these latitudes.

On the 17th the ship had to stand out farther and farther from the land to clear the pack, and when on the 18th she arrived in the entrance to Wood Bay it was also found to be heavily packed. A way to the N. and N.W. the sharp peaks of Monteagle and Murchison, among bewildering clusters of lesser summits, could be seen; across the bay rose the magnificent bare cliff of Cape Sibbald, while to the S.W. the eye lingered pleasantly upon the uniform outline of Mount Melbourne. This fine mountain rears an almost perfect volcanic cone to a height of 9,000 feet, and with no competing height to take from its grandeur, it constitutes the most magnificent landmark on the coast. Cape Washington, a bold, sharp headland, projects from the foot of the mountain on its eastern side, and finding such heavy pack in Wood Bay, Scott decided to turn to the south to pass around this cape.

From this point the voyage promised to be increasingly interesting, since the coast to the south of Cape Washington was practically unknown. Pack-ice was still a formidable obstacle, but on the 20th the Discovery pushed her way into an inlet where she met ice which had been formed inside and but recently broken up. The ice was perfectly smooth, and as it showed absolutely no sign of pressure there was no doubting that this inlet would make a secure wintering harbor. Already a latitude had been reached in which it was most desirable to find safe winter quarters for the ship. In England many people had thought that Wood Bay would be the most southerly spot where security was likely to be found, but Scott had seen enough of the coast-line to the south of that place to realize the impossibility of traveling along it in sledges, and to convince him that if any advance to the south was to be made, a harbor in some higher latitude must be found.

This inlet was afterwards named Granite Harbor, and so snug and secure a spot was it to winter in that Scott expressed his thankfulness that he did not yield to its allurements. 'Surrounded as we should have been by steep and lofty hills, we could have obtained only the most local records of climatic conditions, and our meteorological observations would have been comparatively valueless; but the greatest drawback would have been that we should be completely cut off from traveling over the sea-ice beyond the mouth of our harbor.... It is when one remembers how naturally a decision to return to this place might have been made, that one sees how easily the results of the expedition might have been missed.'

It was, however, consoling at the time to know that, in default of a better place, a safe spot had been found for wintering, so with Granite Harbor in reserve the ship again took up her battle with the ice; and on the 21st she was in the middle of McMurdo Sound, and creeping very slowly through the pack-ice, which appeared from the crow's-nest to extend indefinitely ahead. They were now within a few miles of the spot where they ultimately took up their winter quarters, but nearly three weeks were to pass before they returned there. 'At 8 P.M. on the 21st,' Scott says, 'we thought we knew as much of this region as our heavy expenditure of coal in the pack-ice would justify us in finding out, and as before us lay the great unsolved problem of the barrier and of what lay beyond it, we turned our course with the cry of Eastward ho!'