At six o'clock in the evening, we found ourselves near the eastern point of the third group, and saw from the mast-head the Greigh Islands, discovered by Captain Bellingshausen. We now steered between these two groups, in order to free ourselves from the Archipelago, and regain the open sea.
The islands which I discovered on my former voyage in the ship Rurik, the Romanzow, Spiridow, Dean's Islands, the Rurik's Chain, &c. whose longitude I had not then an opportunity to rectify upon Venus Point, lie 5' 36" more to the west than I at first supposed. The longitude given by Captain Bellingshausen for the island which he discovered, appeared to us by 3' 10" too great.
And this discovery led to that of the Palmer Archipelago to the south of them. The next scientific expedition to the Antarctic regions was that despatched by the Emperor Alexander I. of Russia, under the command of Captain Thaddeus von Bellingshausen. It was composed of two ships, and sailed from Cronstadt on July 15, 1819.
When they lay seven miles off us, to the South, we found the longitude, according to our chronometers, 142° 2' 38". Bellingshausen considered it to be 142° 7' 42". From failure of wind, we could not make the island of Romanzow till the morning of the 8th of March.
Guided by observations which, from the clearness of the atmosphere, I had been enabled to make correctly immediately before they came in sight, I estimated their latitude as 15° 48' 7" South; their longitude as 154° 30'. We were the first discoverers of these Islands, and gave them the name of our meritorious navigator, Bellingshausen.
Cook also permitted some of his crew to land, who indeed met with no resistance, but their presents were received with the greatest indifference, and stones were thrown after them on their departure. Captain Bellingshausen, in the year 1820, wished to land on one of these islands, but the natives opposed his intention so seriously that he relinquished it rather than use force.
At night we retired to some distance from the island and lay-to, that we might not, in the darkness, strike on any unknown land. At eight o'clock in the morning we could see the north point of the group of Wolchonsky Islands, recently discovered by Captain Bellingshausen.
In November, 1894, Captain Evensen in the Hertha succeeded in approaching nearer to Alexander I. Land than either Bellingshausen or Biscoe. But the search for whales claimed his attention, and he considered it his duty to devote himself to that before anything else.
From our observation, we found the latitude of the centre of the island of Araktschief 15° 51' 20" South; and the longitude 140° 50' 50". According to Captain Bellingshausen's chart, the latitude is 15° 51', the longitude 140° 52'. Unable to discover any traces of inhabitants on this island, we should have supposed there were none, had not Captain Bellingshausen ascertained the contrary.
When we had finished our observations, I steered a westerly course for the island of Araktschief, discovered in the year 1819 by the Russian Captain Bellingshausen, in order to convince myself that it was actually not the one we had just quitted. At four o'clock in the afternoon we could already see this island from the mast-head, and we reached it before sunset.