of Alasdair MacKinnon, A.B.
Aboard SY AURORA
here is a transcription of the diary kept by Alasdair MacKinnon,
A.B., during the Antarctic Relief Expedition of the SY AURORA
to McMurdo Sound. The AURORA sailed from Port Chalmers
on December 20, 1916 and returned to Wellington, arriving on February
9, 1917. The author's spelling has not
been corrected and asterisks
have been used to refer the reader to Notes at the end of the transcription.
A special "thank you" goes to Cameron MacRae, a family member of
MacKinnon, who was kind enough to transcribe and grant permission
to release the entire diary, for the first time, to the public via
S.Y. Aurora Antarctic Relief Expt.
Port Chalmers warf at 7.40 a.m. on Dec. 20th, anchored at 7.35 tug along
side 9.20 Sir Earnest* on board sailed at 9.30 a.m. for Ross Sea.
cleared the Heads a 10:40. Course S 35°E. Calm. Thermomiter 60°
sea moderate 1pm Set Watches watches worked till 9 pm
Dec 21 day break. 3 am clear, light swell 8 am start setting sails. 9.30
am We are stearing full and by watch securing gear round decks. 3 pm upper
top sail in ship rolling heavy Ther. 54°
Dec 22 daybreak 2.30 am heavy swell course S 40°E. Ther 50° 43 pm
bending speniker. 6 pm lower top sail and fore taken in. Cloudy sea moderating.
Dec 23 fore lower and uper top sails set watch shifting coal Saturday afternoon
in the Work House 6 pm strong fair wind Course S33°E
Dec 24 2 am daybreak Clear. strong fair wind. Sea rough. Noon ship rolling
heavy same conditions.
Dec 25 weather rough showry and cloudy. Christmas day cakes all over the
fore castle but none like Murdo's cakes and oatmeal cakes 4 pm had a few
words with the mate over stearing. hard case bound south.
Dec 26 look out off. 5.30 am clear. heavy sea strong south wind Course S
26°E. noon Lat 59°35'S lon 172E
Dec 27 4 am sea cold & cloudy. 6.30 am sighted two large Ice Bergs. 8am
Bergs abeam flat tops resembling two large paddocks one about 4 miles square
10 am passing another. Noon all Sails in weather very heavy
Dec 28 3 am started snowing continued all day sun dept at 10 pm midnight
as clear as at noon no more darkness
Dec 29 4 am passing a hugh Berg. drift Ice all day course S 28°E Calm
wind E Ther. 34°
Dec 30th 4 am sea smooth clear and cold Course S30°E 5.30 am entered
Antarctic Circle 64°33S occasional Berg and drift Ice. 7 pm entered
a sea of pack Ice that makes the old "Aurora" tremble fore and aft. 68°Ss
still 600 from the base
Dec 31 Calm and mild zig zag courses through the Ice continues all day meet
the first penguings & seals on Ice. Mid night called on Capt. & Sir Earnest
taking in New Year. Main Ice getting thiner calm & mild all day.
Jan 2nd the Sun upall night Course westerly making for the land Ice very
heavy cold breeze in the afternoon trimming coal.
Jan 3rd 5 am held up by heavy Ice going slow ahead noon
stoped taking ice on board for water 4 pm under way.
6pm held up by heavy pack
Jan 4 held up all day SE snow storm.
Jan 5 got clear at 1 am held up ---*--6 am for
the day weather continued
Jan 6 Wind moderating sighted Mt. Sabine at 7 pm 71°S. Sat noon making
very slow progress 2? miles for 24 hrs.
Jan 7 clear & calm Ice breaking up noon 71°46S through a heavy pack
Jan 8 fine clear weather 73°31 S
Jan 9 11.30 am sighted Mt. Terror & Mt. Erebus 100 miles off both on Ross
Jan 10 fine clear morning 7.30 am entered McMurdo Sound towards Cape bird
20 mls from Cape Eavns* Hut 11 am stoped by solid Ice. land Shackleton
& two men at Cape Royd his winter quarters, in 1907-09 Expedition returned
& reported no signs of party noon sighted 6 men with dog team crossing the
Ice from Cape Eavns Shackleton, Mois* and Doctor* leaves ship to
meet them arriving back at 11.30 pm took photos etc. reported 3 men dead
Capt. Mackintosh, Rev Smith* & Mr. Haywood, while another man in the
Hut looking after Gear, etc. 3 pm 6 men leaves for cape Eavns* with
dog team, another of four for Cape Royds to bring back specimens all on
board 7.45 pm ship steams to the Sound and drifts there all night.
Jan 11 drifted in sound all day 10 pm sets out for butter point west side
of sound lands a party at midnight to search for butter point depot.
Jan 12 1 am ship anchored to Ice. 2 am party returned no trace of depot
9 am left anchorage for Cape royds, arriving there 1.45 pm Ice started to
break up. 4 pm anchored to the ice for the night
Jan 13 morning very cold air 22° of frost. 1.30 pm Shackleton joice*
Jack & wild left for Hut pt, with dog team to erect a cross in memory of
the 3 men dead another party went to cape royds for remainder of gear. 7.30
pm Cape Royd party on board. Ice breaking up and broke away from our mooring
this being the third ice anchor lost puts to sea and stands off all night.
Jan 14 calm with the wind off the land. noon puts her bow up against the
ice and remains so all day cold and stormy snow drift
15 very cold with strong SE snow storm, bow on to the ice. 7 pm started
to clear up.
16 th brought a calm day ice breaking up in great batches and carried away
to the north we were supposed to sail for home this morningbut through the
wind changing to the NW caused the drifting ice to fall back on us and we
couldn't stand of with being ashore by noon what was open water a few hrs
previous was packed up by miles of ice we were properly jamed up ice all
round as far as the eye could see. 1 pm shore party returned but no hope
of getting clear
17 morning comes in with fallen snow. wind changes to E drift ice working
out of sound 11.30 am took on board anchor and steamed northward for home
6 pm pass belford* Island. weather clear.
18 th 4 am pack iceon horizon all all round seemingly very heavy course
is altered and working back along the edge of it but no sign of an opening
all day, by 6 pm we were back to belford* Isle. again when there was
no way of getting to open sea we put back to the Sound for the night and
layed off Gannet Harbour*
19th Clear & chilly stearing north 10 am blocked stearing SE 3.30 pm got
through the pack once more going NW. weather fine. 12 pm past franklin Isle.
20th Calm & warm 6 am among light pack 3 pm of Coleman* Island.
21st 2 am Cold wind light pack wind increasing noon sea rough 73°S
22nd Clear ice light occasional berg noon
ice heavy. 2 pm back to S.
23rd Clear and very cold still going S. noon 73°46S
24th snowing heavy, 5 pm past Franklin Isle arrived sound midnight
25 Clear entrance to Sound blocked by pack
26th 2 am got clear. full speed Course North. light Breeze
27th dull & calm 73°54S at noon 9 pm snowing wing SE
28th 28th 4 am close to Cape Adare Wind
increasing NW. noon very strong wind & heavy sea
8 pm living gale ---?---N gale continues did not hold her own since 10 am
29th 1 am weather breaking drift ice closing round
us 4 am making little head way. 8 am heavy pack noon
heavy all round 70°40S
30th 4 am in pack for last 24 hrs Noon 68°4S
31st 2 am wind increasing pack lighter noon
66°50S 6 pm recrossed Antarctic Circle heavy
swell and cold sleat.
Feb 1 fine weather wind west passing large Bergs Noon
63°10S. 2 pm fore sail and lower staisail set 3
pm lower topsail sets 9 pm midnight fore and lower topsails wind
2nd 3 am staisail in 8 am
heavy sea with strong wind ahead noon 62°5S Course
N40W 6 pm wind takes off and shifts to the south
3rd 4 am calm wind west noon
60°15S misty & drisly 3
pm foresail set 8 pm clear and fresh breeze
4th strong SE winds noon 57°30S course
N55W in communication with shore
5th Drisly SE. noon 54°26S heavy
wind and sea
6th S gale and nasty sea Noon 50°50S N.30°W
7th weather continues noon 47°4S 4pm
wind takes off N20°W
8th light breeze Wind E noon
9th 4.30 am sighted the Kackories* clear
wind NW, course N30°W noon abeam Cape Campbell wind now very strong.
5.30 pm ins
ide ? 6 pm pilot
aboard kept her going round in the steam till the tug Kirake came off
with the mayor & some ?p as Welcoming Party. 7.30 birthed
at wool jetty. jetty crowded with people with hearty cheers for the Aurora
and the returned men. this practly finished the Relief
Dec 20: "Earnest" should read Ernest
Jan 6: "cape Eavns" should read Cape Evans
Jan 6: "2?" could be 24 or 27
Jan 10: "Mois" should read Morton Moves
Jan 10: "Doctor" was Dr. F.G. Middleton
Jan 10: "Rev Smith" was Rev. Spencer-Smith
Jan 13: "Joice" should read Joyce
Jan 17: "Belford" should read Beaufort
Jan 18: "Grannet" should read Granite
Jan 20: "Colman" should read Coulman
Feb 9: "Kackories" shoud read Kaikouras
Feb 9: The "Welcoming Party" referred to by the author consisted of prominent
citizens of Wellington, led by the Mayor Sir J.P. Luke and Mr. W.H. Herries
(acting Minister of Marine).