Skip to Content

The Southern Cross departed from St Katherine’s Dock, London on 22 August 1898, where a large crowd assembled to see the expedition off.

Public interest in the departure was stirred by the thought that the men might not return, and the ship was given a rousing send-off as she glided down the Thames. Sailing via Hobart the Southern Cross, loaded with stores and with dogs tethered on the deck, arrived at Cape Adare nearly six months later, during a storm, on 15 February. When the storm abated, a landing was made and a beach ridge selected as the site for the two prefabricated huts, and their arrival was celebrated with champagne and speech making.

Unloading began on the 18 February, but further storms meant the operation, which should have taken four days, took 12. Boxes and other goods were lowered into small whaleboats, which were hauled to the beach along a strong hawser between ship and shore. The men landing the equipment worked knee-deep in cold water and had the arduous task of dragging much of the equipment up the beach.

The job of establishing the winter quarters was interrupted by another storm on 19 February when a whaleboat and dog kennels were blown out to sea and wrecked amongst the ice floes. Remnants were later washed ashore and salvaged for firewood, and the bow of the whaleboat was up-ended and placed near the huts. Twice the Southern Cross broke free of her anchors and nearly foundered in the fierce gales. 

 With a site levelled for the huts and a foundation scraped out in pebbles to a depth of two feet, the huts were assembled. The numbered planks of Baltic pine were interlocked and tied together with steel rods.

 

Cables were passed over the roofs and secured to ship anchors embedded in the ground. On the windward side, the roofs were extended down to the ground by means of a wooden framework and covered with seal skins. Later, the space between the huts was enclosed with a flimsy structure clad in seal skins, and used to store sledging equipment, provisions and Fougner’s workbench and tools. On the windward side of this space, a wooden framework was constructed and covered with seal skins thereby providing a protected way between the buildings and increasing storage space considerably. Sacks of coal and equipment were stored in this area.

<p>Hauling stores on a sledge on 28th February 1899 (credit Scott Polar Research Institute)</p>
<p>Hauling stores on a sledge on 28th February 1899 (credit Scott Polar Research Institute)</p>
Turn the Page (3 of 7)
Return to the Contents Page for the British Southern Cross Expedition