Like others making scientific expeditions Bellingshausen and his comrades hoped to take the best equipment and instruments and the most up-to-date thinking of their time along with them. They also followed best scientific and nautical practice when recording and describing their discoveries. In order to understand Bellingshausen’s reports we need to get some idea of how he expected to and did in fact proceed, and the language he would use to describe his work. For example he never used the word ‘Antarctic’ which the author has, deliberately, made free with up to this point. His main geographical tasks were to survey South Georgia and Sandwich Land, and then to use maximum effort ‘to seek out unknown lands’ as close to the South Pole as possible, and to go on doing so in an easterly direction for as long as feasible until the approach of winter. At that point he was to repair and resupply his ships at Port Jackson, in the British colony of New South Wales, and then spend the austral winter exploring parts of the South Pacific. After that he was to visit Port Jackson again before returning to the Southern Ocean to resume his thrusts into the ice fields, still east-about, until he completed his circumnavigation by returning to the South Atlantic around Cape Horn. It would then be time to come home (TS, 1: 16–18).


Southern Ocean Dead Reckoning Heavenly Body Artificial Horizon Antarctic Circle 


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© Rip Bulkeley 2014

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