The wharves of Katherine Dock were black with many thousands of people, and all their eyes converged on a little auxiliary barque which was working out of the basin under her own gentle steam. The barque carried a white tub at her mainmast-head, was rigged with single topsails, bore many white double-ended boats upturned on skids amidships, and was decorated with sundry other matters which even to the shore eye would seem strange in London river. Stacked in her waist were bags of coal, crates, packing cases, a couple of ice-anchors, a tangle of trellis-work sledges, and other quaint trifles which had not yet been struck below. Any craft more unlike the ordinary conventional type of yacht it would have been hard to conceive, and yet the burgee of the Royal Thames Yacht Club fluttered out from above the white crow’s nest (or fouled the telescope rail, as the case might be) and an English blue ensign hung clean and unfrayed from the mizzen truck, as the mizzen gaff, its more orthodox station, had not yet been set up. The barque was already a vessel well known. As a sealer and whale-fisher she had earned fat dividends for Dundee owners; as the S.Y. Windward she had made history, and helped to found the British colony of Elmwood in Franz Josef’s Land, and had been iced up for an Arctic winter in a bay at the back of Cape Flora; and on this trip she was destined (although no one even guessed at it then) to acquire a far more international fame. She was setting out then from Katherine Dock under the command of that old ice-sailor, Captain James Brown, to carry recruits and supplies to the Jackson-Harmsworth exploring expedition after their second winter amongst the polar ice; and she landed these on the sterile rocks of Franz Josef’s Land after a bitter struggle with the floes, and brought back with her to the land of champagne and telegraph wires, Frithjof Nansen, the Norskman, as by this time all the world most thoroughly knows. Slowly that single-topsail barque was warped across the dock basin, a strange small creature amongst the huge steam shipping; slowly she passed through the outer lock; and then the ebb of the muddy river took her, and she moved out into the stream, and the black crowds on the dock-head sent up thunderous cheers. The little auxiliary propeller fluttered astern, and she dropped down river at no ostentatious speed. But the white barrel perched up there under the main truck betrayed her always, and every vessel of every nationality in those cosmopolitan reaches knew her as the yacht of the English Arctic expedition. The blue ensign was kept on a constant dance up and down from her mizzen truck, as it answered other bunting, which was dipped in salute from countless peaks and poop-staffs. Some crews cheered her as she passed at her puny gait through the crowded shipping; the band of the Worcester played her down the river out of earshot; everybody she passed warmed to her enterprise and wished her success and a snug return. Ladies, and owner, and shore folk, had come down the river to give her a final “send off,” but these left at Greenhythe with the mud pilot, and from that began an easy voyage to the rim of the Polar Sea. The Windward was to go North as much as possible under her own canvas; but as some steam would certainly be required for head winds and other emergencies, she was to call in at Vardö at the entrance to the White Sea to rebunker, so as to have the largest possible supply of good Welsh steam coal for her final battle with the Northern ice. To this port, in the north-easternmost angle of Arctic Norway, the Windward carried as passengers Mr. Cecil Hayter, who drew pictures for this book, and another man, who wrote it.