The incredible story of the adventures of the Scottish sailor Bruce Gordon, recorded from his words, has been preserved only in the old English book “Chronicle of the Seas, or a Collection of incredible incidents in the open spaces of the sea.” The polar Robinson himself did not bother to describe his adventures, apparently did not have sufficient literacy and eloquence, or simply did not want to relive everything that happened to him again, albeit on paper.
This story began in 1757, when a small sailing vessel “Anna Phobe” sailed from the Scottish port of Aberdeen to the shores of Greenland to fish for whales. The beginning of the fishery was quite successful: the weather did not cause much trouble, and the hold of the vessel was gradually filled with blubber (an outdated name for marine mammal fat). In the area of the 70th parallel, the whalers encountered a large herd of whales. Only one giant was harpooned, the rest of the herd went north. The captain of the Anna Phobe, Emmay Hughes, despite the objections of the navigator, decided to pursue the whales and sent the ship north.
At first everything went well. We managed to catch up with the herd, the hold of the ship was already half filled with prey. Intoxicated by such luck and rum, the captain completely forgot about caution. Hughes finally sobered up and located the ship, he felt uneasy — in his memory, no whaler had ever traveled as far north as he did. The captain ordered to turn south, but there was no way back — the ship was surrounded by ice on all sides. The fog that descended, the crackling of the ship’s hull from the ice floes creeping on it filled the hearts of the sailors with horror and a premonition of imminent disaster.
In the morning, when the sun dispersed the fog, Hughes ordered seaman Bruce Gordon to climb to the top of the mast and look around for open water. Before Bruce had even reached the very top, the ship shuddered violently. The Anna Phobe was crushed by the ice that had begun to move, the ship tilted and fell to the left side. Convulsively clinging to the mast, Gordon literally sank onto the ice, unclenched his fingers and fell. When he jumped to his feet, the ship was nowhere to be found!
In a matter of seconds, his ship was swallowed up by the ice floes that had crept over it. Bruce was left alone in the middle of the ice, without weapons, food and warm clothes. He literally felt the icy gaze of death on him, she squinted at the man, as if considering whether to kill him immediately or torment him before the inevitable end.
He could die at once from the fear of imminent death alone, or simply give up, lie down on the ice and die from hypothermia. In the morning, providence rewarded him for his courage and fortitude: another movement of the ice pushed his disappeared ship up to the surface with its keel!
It was a chance to survive, and Bruce, already exhausted from cold, hunger and thirst, decided to take advantage of it. Staggering, he began to get to the ship, overcoming the sharp hummocks standing in his way. Alas, there were no holes in the hull, and he could not get inside. Bruce was very thirsty, he tried to suck a piece of ice, but it was salty. An ice mountain towered next to the ship, it was an iceberg frozen in an ice field. His ice was different in color, Gordon picked up a piece of an iceberg with a piece of the mast, this ice turned out to be fresh, and he managed to quench his thirst.
After that, the stubborn Scot made a second attempt to get into the ship. Around the keel on the ice lay fragments of boats, oars, masts, a harpoon and a metal hook, these were the tools with which he could break his way into the ship. With the last of his strength, he tore open the window of the aft cabin and finally found himself on the ship. Everything was upside down in the cabin, it was half filled with ice. In the midst of this chaos, Gordon managed to find rock-hard biscuits. Never in his life had he experienced such pleasure from the taste of food, he gnawed on these biscuits and with each particle of them, strength returned to his body.
Bruce found a lot of liquor bottles in the captain’s cabin, but they were either empty or broken. His prey was only a corkscrew, forks, spoons and knives. It was necessary to do something urgently, Bruce was freezing literally on the move, the cold was already chilling him to the bone. Breaking the bulkhead, he made his way to the next cabin, where he found a barrel of rum. He dug a hole in the barrel, pressed his lips to it and began to drink the fiery liquid.