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Greely Expedition: Day 10

Day 10: Saturday, July 16th, 1881

Foggy and very disagreeable to be on deck. The fog lifted this PM and showed us the light lands of “Disco” which arose to the heights of 3,000 feet close on our starboard side. About 9 PM ship anchored in the harbor at “Disco,” Greenland, having been piloted in, by Sgts. Jewell & Rice who were here last year, aboard the “Gulnare.” The settlement on the entrance to the harbor can not be seen from any distance outside, and it was only with many misgivings that Capt. Pike gave the order to steam into the narrow passage indirected by our pilots. Some of the men having begged some powder, they loaded the small cannon on top. Gallant for castle and fired a salute, which was answered from the settlement, which is sufficed with a small battery. Our ship was soon boarded by the Governor and several of the chief citizens, who gave a warm welcome to Lt. Greely.

As soon as the vessel cast anchor, it was surrounded by name of the “Eskimos” who had come off from the shore in their small boats (“Kayak”). They are very light, and under the skillful manipulations of the small double ended paddle, in the hands of the “Eskimo,” skim about the water with astonishing speed and grace.” They have a light frame work construction of wood or bone and ivory and bound together with seal-skin thongs, and covered with seal-skin also. The top or deck is all covered with the exception of a hole just sufficiently large to allow a man to pass his hips through. Around the edge, and outside of this hole, there is an apron to the upper edge of which a string is attached which allows of its being drawn tight about the body and under the arms of the boatman. This device keeps out the water perfectly and keeps the little vessel dry in the heaviest sea.

All the natives who came aboard the ship has various article to “Troche” or barter. It was mostly sealskin goods such as coats, pantaloons, gloves, boots, slippers, cuffs of “Eider down,” muffs made of Eider down and the breast feathers of other birds, miniature “kayaks,” Eskimo sledges. Quite a quantity of these articles were bought by the men, for such articles of clothing as they had no need of, and also hard bread, and some meat. The natives however want too much for their wares, and we have been advised by the Governor to await until we arrive at Uppernavik, a trading post farther to the North. Common jewelry is at a discount here and the best articles to trade with are bright colored handkerchiefs and thick goods. This evening there was a dance given by the natives for our special benefit, but no one attended, the officers being the only persons who left the ship today.

We have daylight during the whole 24 hours now, and it troubles us much more than a person who has not experienced it would think. Before turning in we always stuff clothing into the port holed, and over the transoms of the staterooms, so as to exclude all light and so manage to sleep with a tolerable degree of comfort. It is just as light as 12 PM as it is at 12 AM.

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