Below the Convergence

Below the Convergence : Voyages Towards Antarctica, 1699-1839

  • Paperback
By (author) Alan Gurney

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The Tantalising theory of a huge southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita, had haunted the imaginations of countles geographers throughout history. Not until the second of his great voyages in 1773 did James Cook finally lay the theory to rest. This wonderfully written book tells the story of British, American and Russian expeditions, from the astonomers Halley's voyage in the Paramore in 1699 to the sealer John Balleny's 1839 voyage in the Eliza Scott, all in search of land, fur or elephant seals. These were voyages for science, national prestige and profit. Life was incredibly harsh: crews had poor provisions and inadequate clothing and were constantly threatened by scurvy. Often they had their own charts as they sailed in the stormy waters of the Southern Ocean below the convergence. that sea frontier marking the boundry between the freezing Antarctic waters and the warmer sub-Antarctic seas. These seamen were the first to discover and exploit a new continent, which was not the verdant southern island they imagined but an inhospitable expanse of r ock and ice, ringed by pack ice and icebergs-Antarctica.

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  • Paperback | 315 pages
  • 152 x 230 x 24mm | 439.99g
  • 07 May 1998
  • VINTAGE
  • PIMLICO
  • London
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • b&w illustrations, maps
  • 0712673296
  • 9780712673297

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Review text

Throughout history, geographers were haunted by the thought of a huge green southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita, thought necessarily to exist in order to balance the continents in the northern extremities of the world. But not until James Cook's second great voyage in 1773 was the myth of this continent's existence finally laid to rest. Alan Gurney writes vividly of the arduous journeys undertaken by British, Russian and American expeditions to solve the mysteries of the southern continent, beginning with Edmond Halley's astronomical expedition in 1699 (when the astronomer spent as much time dealing with a recalcitrant crew as he did making observations) to John Balleny's voyage in 1839, hunting for fur seals. Many vessels sailed for profit as much as for exploration and Gurney describes the virtual extinction of the whales and fur seals, and the constant competition between various nations for the best claims. His is a remarkable account of heroic sailors, the irony being that all too often they had little notion of what it was they had discovered. Their collective story makes compelling reading. (Kirkus UK)

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