Captain Cook and The Old Explorers of Antarctica

Exhibit 44 – Captain Cook and The Old Explorers of Antarctica

In 1773, Captain Cook became the first modern explorer known to have breached the Antarctic Circle and reached the ice barrier.  During three voyages, lasting three years and eight days, Captain Cook and crew sailed a total of 60,000 miles along the Antarctic coastline never once finding an inlet or path through or beyond the massive ice wall  Captain Cook wrote:  “The ice extended east and west far beyond the reach of our sight, while the southern half of the horizon was illuminated by rays of light which were reflected from the ice to a considerable height.  It was indeed my opinion that this ice extends quite to the pole, or perhaps joins some land to which it has been fixed since creation.”

“‘Yes, but we can circumnavigate the South easily enough,’ is often said by those who don’t know, The British Ship Challenger recently completed the circuit of the Southern region – indirectly, to be sure – but she was three years about it, and traversed nearly 69,000 miles – a stretch long enough to have taken her six times round on the globular hypothesis.”  – William Carpenter, “100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe.”

“During Captain James Clark Ross’s voyages around the Antarctic circumference, he often wrote in his journal perplexed at how they routinely found themselves out of accordance with their charts, stating that they found themselves an average of 12-16 miles outside their reckoning every day, later on further south as much as 29 miles.”  Captain Ross also wrote of the Antarctic ice wall as, “extending from its eastern extreme point as far as the eye could discern to the eastward.  It presented an extraordinary appearance, gradually increasing in height, as we got nearer to it, and proving at length to be a perpendicular cliff of ice, between one hundred and fifty feet and two hundred feet about the level of the sea, perfectly flat and level at the top, and without any fissures or promontories on its even seaward face.  We might with equal chance of success try to sail through the cliffs of Dover, as to penetrate such a mass.”

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