The Worst Journey in the World

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard Page B

Book: The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Apsley Cherry-Garrard
breaking surf,
    lifted like a cork on top of the waves, and as long as you kept
    head to sea and kept your own head, you need never have got on
    the rocks, as the tremendous back-swish took you out like a shot
    every time. It was quite exciting, however, as we would slip in
    close in a lull, and the chaps in the whaler would yell, 'Look
    out!' if a big wave passed them, in which case you would pull out
    for dear life. Our first lines carried away, and then, with
    others, Rennick and I this time took the pram while Atkinson got
    as near the edge as safe to throw us the gear. I was pulling, and
    by watching our chances we rescued the cameras and glasses, once
    being carried over 12 feet above the rocks and only escaping by
    the back-swish. Then the luckiest incident of the day occurred,
    when in a lull we got our sick man down, and I jumped out, and he
    in, as I steadied the boat's stern. The next minute the boat
    flew out on the back-wash with the seaman absolutely dry, and I
    was of course enveloped in foam and blackness two seconds later
    by a following wave. Twice the day before this had happened, but
    this time for a moment I thought, 'Where will my head strike?' as
    I was like a feather in a breeze in that swirl. When I banked it
    was about 15 feet above, and, very scratched and winded, I clung
    on with my nails and scrambled up higher. The next wave, a bigger
    one, nearly had me, but I was just too high to be sucked back.
    Atkinson and I then started getting the gear down, Evans having
    taken my place in the pram. By running down between waves we hove
    some items into the boat, including the guns and rifles, which I
    went right down to throw. These were caught and put into the
    boat, but Evans was too keen to save a bunch of boots that
    Atkinson threw down, and the next minute the pram passed over my
    head and landed high and dry, like a bridge, over the rocks
    between which I was wedged. I then scrambled out as the next wave
    washed her still higher, right over and over, with Evans and
    Rennick just out in time. The next wave—a huge one—picked her
    up, and out she bumped over the rocks and out to sea she went,
    water-logged, with the guns, fortunately, jammed under the
    thwarts. She was rescued by the whaler, baled out, and then Gran
    and one of the seamen manned her battered remains again, and we,
    unable to save the gear otherwise, lashed it to life-buoys, threw
    it into the sea and let it drift out with the back-wash to be
    picked up by the pram.
    "Clothes, watches and ancient guns, rifles, ammunition, birds
    (dead) and all specimens were, with the basket of crockery and
    food, soaked with salt water. However, the choice was between
    that or leaving them altogether, as anybody would have said had
    they seen the huge rollers breaking among the rocks and washing
    30 to 40 feet up with the spray; in fact, we were often knocked
    over and submerged for a time, clinging hard to some rock or one
    of the ropes for dear life. Evans swam off first. Then I was
    about half an hour trying to rescue a hawser and some lines
    entangled among the rocks. It was an amusing job. I would wait
    for a lull, run down and haul away, staying under for smaller
    waves and running up the rocks like a hare when the warning came
    from the boat that a series of big ones were coming in. I finally
    rescued most of it—had to cut off some and got it to the place
    opposite the boat, and with Rennick secured it and sent it out to
    sea to be picked up. My pair of brown tennis shoes (old ones) had
    been washed off my feet in one of the scrambles, so I was wearing
    a pair of sea-boots—Nelson's, I found—which, fortunately for
    him, was one of the few pairs saved. The pram came in, and
    waiting for a back-wash Rennick swam off. I ran down after the
    following wave, and securing my green hat, which by the bye is a
    most useful asset, struck out through the boiling, and grabbed
    the pram safely as we were lifted on the crest of an immense
    roller.

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