H.M.S. Hecla and Griper Trapped in Arctic Circle.

September 30, 2008

– Lily Robert-Foley

September 19, 1819.

According to reports, two ships, the H.M.S. Hecla and H.M.S. Griper became locked in ice inside the Arctic circle this Tuesday.  They were forced to cut a channel through the ice and dock their ships on a previously unexplored region of the Arctic Circle now known as Melville Island in the heart of North Georgia. 

“It is extremely cold” said Mr. Peeping Tom Scriber.  Peeping Tom Scriber is an anonymous member of the ship’s commanding crew who writes for The North Georgia Gazette—a newspaper Sir William Edward Parry, Captain of the expedition initiated in order to keep the men occupied during the long winter months in Winter Harbor. 

“There are long months of darkness, isolation and possible insanity ahead of us,” Captain Parry said.  “I started the newspaper as a way to keep spirits up.”  Captain Parry also admits to having identified indolence as a cause of scurvy.  Captain Parry has devised several other methods in addition for keeping the men occupied during their stay in Winter Harbor, including:  bi-weekly theatrical entertainments, obligatory dancing, cricket games on ice, and two hours of deck scrubbing with stones every morning between six and eight.

“Sometimes it gets so cold that the men’s noses will stick to the telescopes in the Observatory shack and their skin will be pulled off,”  said the ship’s surgeon.  It is said that the lowest temperature this coming winter was -55° Fahrenheit.  One man contracted scurvy because he had been sleeping in a moist bed next to the ship’s rim.  “It is uncomfortable if not painful,” he told us “to sleep in a bed that is mostly ice.”   

“It is bizarre to live in a world that is covered in white.  There is no contrast, no differentiation.  We go for walks sometimes in the snow.  We might see a large boulder up ahead and become very excited because it would be the most defining feature of the landscape seen in months.  But then as we approach the boulder we realize that it was only a pebble and looked like a boulder because everything exists in a uniform field of white,”  the ship’s resident poet told us. 

The two ships left London Harbor in September of 1819 in search of the Northwest passage.  The search for the Northwest passage will turn out to be a nearly futile one, riddled with dead bodies.  It can be likened to a search for truth, transcendence or pure light. 

A republication of The North Georgia Gazette is due out from Green Lantern Press in February 2009. 

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