Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/650

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was reported, Low was it to be known at what moment it might not have been fallen in with? As we have seen above, in some years the ice comes down in February; perhaps the next year not until September. Can any one doubt that, the longer we continue to run without seeing ice, the more emboldened we become to continue running through the region where it is liable to be met with, in all kinds of weather, trusting partly to our escape from accident in the past for security in the future? If this is not so, the nature of shipmasters must be different from ordinary human nature; and that the observation is a true one is, I think, proved by the experience of the past season, when so many steamers continued to round the south end of the Grand Bank, voyage after voyage, in a latitude where ice was almost as certain to be encountered as the sun was sure to rise in the morning; and when it was also as certain that, by crossing the meridian of 50 a hundred miles farther to the southward, the ice could have been avoided altogether.

The facts appended are the result of careful observations, taken from June, 1875, to August of last year. The instruments were compared frequently with standards, the temperature of the water taken at least every hour, and, when changes were anticipated, sometimes every ten minutes, between Henlopen and Cape Clear, and the hours and minutes of fog noted when the whistle was blowing or when we could not see far enough to clear a vessel without difficulty. I presume it will be conceded that many more hours of hazy or misty weather would be encountered on the northern than on the southern route; the vicinity of the colder water naturally bringing with it more hours when a vigilant lookout would have to be kept, but when it would not be necessary for the steam-whistle to be sounded. The observations comprise thirty-two eastern and twenty-seven western passages, from March to August inclusive, on routes one to five, and five western passages in August, via Cape Race, on the middle of the Bank. The eastern passages, from 1875 to 1879, were sailed on track No. 3, which crosses the 50th meridian in about 41° latitude, and hauls sharp to the northward, on the Great Circle for the Fastnet. For 1880-81 track No. 4 was followed, with the exception of the March passage in 1881, when 50° longitude was crossed in 42° latitude, thereby reducing slightly the average distance for the season. During the season of 1882, track No. 5 was taken from April to August.

On the western passages, track No. 1, the route generally taken in these months, was followed as closely as possible from 1875 up to and including the June trip of 1880. The July passage of that year was made on track No. 4. For the year 1881 the earliest trip, April, was made on track No. 1; the subsequent passages on No. 4. During the present year, with the exception of the March trip, the passages have been made entirely on the extreme southern track, No. 5.