Journal of a Voyage with Bering, 1741-1742
The European discovery of the northwest coast of America is fully and dramatically recorded in this journal, an invaluable historical and scientific source document. It is also a gripping narrative of human conflict, of nature as the overwhelming adversary, of terror and pain and death, and of final deliverance.
In the service of the Russian tsarina, the German naturalist Steller accompanied the great Danish explorer Vitus Bering on a voyage that survived shipwreck and unimaginable hardship to mark the beginning of Alaska's recorded history. This book is a new translation and annotation of Steller's journal of that voyage and the first to be based completely upon a surviving copy of Steller's manuscript dated 1743 (previous translation had been based on a 1793 edition). The journal is the best known of Steller's writings, not so much because of events along the way, or its biological and anthropological observations, not even because of the momentous sight of the Alaskan coast and the subsequent landings, but because of the harrowing events of the return voyage.
Thirty-two men of the 78 who set sail died, including Bering himself; 46 survived shipwreck in the winter of 1741-42 on a treeless, uninhabited island, and returned finally to home port on Kamchatka in a small vessel built from timbers of the wrecked ship. On the island, Bering and his lieutenant had become too ill to function and Steller found himself taking the lead in organizing work parties, finding antiscorbutic plant and animal food, nursing the six, and cheering the depressed actions that kept all from perishing.
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Alaska Aleut America anchor ashore August Avacha Bay beach became Bering expedition Bering Island Bering's Island Bering's Voyages birds Bolsheretsk Cape St Captain Captain-Commander channel chatka Chirikov Chukchi cliffs coast command cossack distance drift dwellings east Elias farther fathoms feet fish foxes Georg Wilhelm Georg Wilhelm Steller German Halle July Kamchadals Kamchatka Kamchatka River Kayak Island Krasheninnikov Kurile Islands land later latitude Lieutenant Waxell mainland Master Khitrov meat miles mountains mouth Nagai Island night noon North Pacific northeast northwest numbers o'clock observed officers Okhotsk Pallas text Pallas's pelts Peter Peter Simon Pallas Petersburg plants Plenisner reason River rocks Russian sailed scurvy sea animals sea cow sea otter seen September ship ship's shore Shumagin Islands Siberia sick side sight snow southwest species Stejneger Steller Steller's journal storm translated versts weather whale winter wood yawl