The Voyage

The Expedition's ships departed their berths at Greenhithe on the Thames River estuary on 19 May 1845. The ships did not sail directly across the Atlantic but first progressed along the east coast of Britain to Stromness in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. As related in letters sent by expedition members such as Captain Francis Crozier of the Terror, the party experienced a difficult crossing of the Atlantic characterized by stormy weather and heavy seas. The last stop where the party was witnessed prior to their disappearance was the Whalefish Islands (Qeqertaarsuaq or Godhavn) on Western Greenland. Here, Franklin`s men deposited the last collection of correspondence from the crew members to their friends, colleagues, and loved ones back in the United Kingdom. These letters give us a good indication of some of the principal daily activities and priorities of the Franklin party in the early stages of their voyage. Regarding the morale of the men, there is much we do not know but we do have some contradictory information. Sir John Franklin's reports back to England and the expedition record sealed in a tube and thrown overboard in 1845 can be compared with Captain Francis Crozier's correspondence.

Sunken ship