Vitus Bering's Ship's Log
The First Kamchatka Expedition

By NS, a fifth grade student at Kimball School
Fall 2000

August 12, 1728
 We have traveled more than a month from St. Petersburg in western Russia. The trip was very hard and long, across more than 6000 miles of empty land. Since we arrived in Kamchatka, a peninsula on the Pacific Ocean, my crew and I have been preparing to sail. We have had to build our boats from the materials we found in the region. Luckily, there is plenty of timber and my shipbuilders are very skilled. My goal is to prove that there is water between the continents of Asia and America. I really hope that I am right because then I will be famous all over Europe. I would like to prove those who doubt me wrong!
August 13, 1728
 We sailed from Kamchatka in early morning. I hope our voyage will go as smoothly as this first day. The ship seems strong and ready for the long voyage ahead.
August 14, 1728
 I really like the feeling of being on the sea and the fresh scent of the ocean air. I never experience the same feeling when on land, the feeling that anything can happen and that excitement is at hand.
August 15, 1728
 Some of my crew members were seasick today because they're not yet used to the sway of the ship day and night. We caught some salmon for lunch which we ate, proud of our fishing skill. It's important that we catch some food along the way, as our supplies will only last so long, and we want to explore to the longest extent we can. The wind is quite low so we are going a little slower than I had hoped. With God's help and the blessings of our Czar Peter the Great we should resume our course very soon.
August 16, 1728
 The water is fairly smooth and we stay in view of the land but I am not always sure of our exact location because it is very foggy. I worry when I cannot see the shoreline because a storm could arise and could blow us ashore to our destruction or send us into the far ocean where we could be lost forever.
August 17, 1728
  It is raining hard and the waves on the water are enormous. The ship seems to be swaying but the crew is working hard to sail on. After some worried thoughts, I now feel relief as the storm seems to be lessening.
August 18, 1728
 Today we are checking the ship for any damage from the storm. We have lost our supplies of medicines, which were carelessly stored on the upper deck. Most importantly, all the sailors are present and accounted for, and their spirits are high having survived our first challenge.
August 19, 1728
 It is very sunny, a great day for sailing. There is not a cloud in the sky and a slight cool breeze is flowing which refreshes us from the hot sun. What a great day!
August 20, 1728
 Yet another day has passed with the same wonderful weather as yesterday. If my charts are correct, we should be near the American shore in a short while.
August 21, 1728
 Our food supply is holding up well, as we've been successful with our fishing skills. We have more than enough water to drink which pleases me as a captain! Fresh water is very scarce, and we only can use that which we brought and any that we collect from the rain.
August 22, 1728
 I continue to wonder if God has blessed us with luck. Things could not be going better.
August 23, 1728
 At this moment I can see dark clouds coming from the east. I hope the storm will hit us gently and not disrupt our sailing progress.
August 24, 1728
 The rain came to us with great ease. It was a gentle sprinkle and did not change our course or damage the ship. Luck is yet again with us.

August 25, 1728
 During lunch I think that I heard some members of my crew talking about me. I am worried that they might be planning to mutiny.  I will need to restore order over the next few days to maintain my control as captain. I may have one of the leaders severely disciplined as an example to the others. Then I'll increase their rations for a few days to win their support.
August 26, 1728
 When we left St. Petersburg so long ago, Czar Peter The Great warned us about tales of sea monsters that eat sailors (especially explorers on a mission)!  We have not seen or witnessed one yet and we are very grateful for that! The men are very superstitious, and I'm not sure myself of the existence of these creatures.
August 27, 1728
 Today is my wife's birthday and I am thinking about her. I really do miss the people we left back in St. Petersburg and hope that they are well and are praying for my safe return.
August 28, 1728
 At this moment I have many things going through my mind.  Are we going the right way? Will we make it to our destination, there and back? Do my crew members still plot against me?  I must go now to sleep to have energy for the important days ahead.
September 9, 1728
 I have not been writing in my log lately because I had misplaced it. I  finally found it in the cupboard above my bed. I had been very tired one night and did not have the energy to put it in its proper place. My journal is very important because it will prove our activities when we return to Russia.
September 10, 1728
 We have been traveling many days now but we still have not reached our destination. I hope we will reach our goal soon. I know that the water passage between Asia and America must exist!
September 11, 1728
 Thankfully, we still have not encountered any sea monsters. I have not reminded my crew about them or they might want to turn back.

September 12, 1728
 I believe we have reached the passage we seek. We have been traveled east from the coast of Russia and I can see waves sprinkled with leaves and twigs of all colors which must come from nearby land. Tomorrow we will search for the coastline.
September 13, 1728
 It is rainy and foggy so we cannot see the American coast but I we can hear the waves hitting the shore. The water is shallow here and there are rocks peeking out from the black water. We cannot go closer because we could hit the rocks near the beach. I wish that I could stay here longer to explore. If the weather clears up we could go ashore and look for plants and animals. We could map the land and claim it for the Czar! We will stay one more day to see if the weather clears up.
September 14, 1728
 We must turn toward home, as our food and water supplies are low. I know that I will be back to this place again.
September 15, 1728
 Despite our failure to explore the land, I feel happy about my findings.
I will try to make a better and more accurate map during this voyage home.
September 16 1728
 All is going well and the crew seems to be happy to be heading home. Day after day I think about my family and friends and canít wait until I reach home.
September 17, 1728
 The days are passing faster and faster, and we have less daylight every day. I hope things go just as well for the end of our voyage.
September 18, 1728
 We have had fairly good weather so far but today is the first chilly day we have really had. The temperature has dropped considerately and I wonder if tomorrow it will drop more or gain back its warmth.
September 19, 1728
 The water is smooth and the wind is behind us, filling our well-made sails, so we are going a little faster than usual.

September 20, 1728
 Late last night I saw this beautiful fish full of colors and I called it a rainbow fish. Its back and sides would change color as it swam. The fish made a curvy line as it swam. I was surprised to see a fish that late in the day because you usually canít see fish through the water at night, but this one was so magnificent that it almost glowed in the water.
September 21, 1728
 It should only be a couple of weeks until we reach port. It sure has been a long trip so far!
September 22, 1728
 I don't have much to do during the day so I will begin to plan another voyage back to America. I am already excited about the next trip and the chance to claim another piece of land for the Czar and my adopted country.
September 23, 1728
 I have begun to like map making and I look forward to more voyages so I can map them out for others to see.
September 24, 1728
 The weather has wonderfully warmed up to a satisfying temperature. I wish to go to bed early tonight because the last few nights I have stayed up late writing in my log.
September 25, 1728
 We are running low on our food supply so I will have to give my crew a little less food so it can last. They do not like this but I think that they will get used to it for the rest of the voyage, because they know that we are getting closer to home every day.
September 26, 1728
 I have been thinking more about my next trip and have been wondering if when we get to America there will be new animals, or gold and silver. I have become very curious about the differences between Russia and this new country.
September 27, 1728
 We should be back to our home camp in a few days. Even though the trip across Russia will be long I canít wait to see my family and friends again.
September 28, 1728
 Today it was very, very cold.  I can remember my youth in Denmark when the fall was always warm. It is getting darker earlier and earlier every night.
September 29, 1728
 I am worried about this change in the weather. If it gets much colder, the water could freeze around our ship. On some days in shallow parts of the water by the coastline I can see a thin crust of ice on top of the water. It seems unusual to have such a change of temperature so early in the fall.
September 30, 1728
 The sun came out today. It didnít really change the temperature but it still felt good if you stood in it for a while. The water is almost clear today so I can see many fish and sea creatures. I hope the risk of freeze is over.
October 1, 1728
 I hope that it will not be a harsh and early winter this year because it will probably take me many months to travel from the Kamchatka peninsula to St. Petersburg. My crew and I will travel by horse across the huge Russian continent. Sailing on our ship is much more enjoyable and faster.
October 2, 1728
 I wonder what Peter The Great will say about my voyage. Will he reward my men and me for our explorations? Will he let me go again in better weather to claim a part of America for Russia?
October 3, 1728
 If I do go on another voyage I would want to explore more of  the west coast of America. This unclaimed land must be rich in gold and furs.
October 4, 1728
 The weather is again getting colder and colder. Each night I add another blanket to my bed because the temperatures drop even lower at night.
October 5, 1728
 Our water supply is very limited. I am afraid of  not having enough food and water but I pray that we will.

October 6, 1728
 The crew is getting tired and weaker but we should be very close. They are excited about being so close to home.
October 7, 1728
 We are very close to are home camp on Kamchatka. I can see the smoke from the village fires!
October 8, 1728
 We arrived and were greeted warmly by the base camp. Our ship was quickly emptied. We will all catch up on our sleep and then begin our preparations for the long trip ahead of us. Our adventure is not yet over but we know the trip west will be faster and more enjoyed knowing our families will be there to greet us. Then we will be home!
 


Vitus Beringís Shipís Log
Remnants of: The Second Kamchatka Expedition



June 15, 1741
 Today, my crew and I are setting out for America. My plan is to claim part of America and travel down its west coast while mapping it. I wonder if there will be silver and gold in America? Or if they have new furs to trap? Maybe there are unknown plants and animals for us to live off and study. I am very fortunate to have almost 10,000 crew members to help me in this expedition. The men will soon learn to obey me because I am the captain and they will do whatever I say!
June 21, 1741
 In early morning there was a rain storm that hit with no warning. I did not want the men to get cold and sick. Illness will not help us get to America as soon as possible.
June 28, 1741
 The wind is very harsh today. The sail is leaning to one side and is not working properly. It is very dangerous to have a broken sail at sea so many of us are helping to fix this major part of our boat. The wind is coming from the south so it is helping us move right along but we weíre still struggling with the sail which must be fixed quickly!
         One of our crew members has developed a bad case of the influenza. Since we do not have a doctor on board we have just been giving him lots of  fresh water and rest and are praying for a speedy recovery. He is very weak and I worry whether this will spread to the rest of the crew.
         I have been wondering what America is going to look like? I plan to make many sketches all the way down the coast. I have already seen some animals in the water. I saw a creature that was black with a white stomach. It swam sleekly through the water. I think it is a penguin but I am not sure.

July 5, 1741
         The sun has risen beautifully and has sat high in the sky for a long time now. It is the best day for sailing! It should only be a matter of days until we reach the American coast. I do hope that it wonít be foggy like our last trip. That would be dreadful!
          Everyday now we are getting closer and closer to America. Some of the time we have to catch and gather our own food but the supply is running very well on track.
July 12, 1741
          Today is my wifeís birthday. I am disappointed that I will not be with her. I know that our son Tucker had made her a beautiful bouquet. A very nice child he is.
        We are very close to our destination. I can see mountains in the distance. I will name the largest Mt. St. Elias, after our patron saint. The water is a little more rough than usual but our boat is handling it very well.
July 19, 1741
 This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. The colors mixed to make the most beautiful rise of the sun I have ever seen!
 Yesterday we reached the coastline. The animals we can see are different than any we have seen. We went ashore and I sketched what I saw. We will later capture some to take home for study. We have claimed this land for Russia.
July 26, 1741
 As we sail down the coast, we can see how different the shape is from Asia. The jagged coastline goes in and out as we follow our way south. I think our maps will be very helpful for future explorers.

August 2, 1741
 I hope the ship will hold up for the long trip ahead. The rains returned today and it was windy all day. It is hard to map on these days. I wonder how the climate of this land is different from our home?
August 9, 1741
 I have never seen such beautiful clouds. They are so puffy, they made me think of a soft pillow. No such comforts for us! One of my mapmakers became ill today, but I think he will recover.  Soon we will finish our journey south and head across the ocean towards home.
August 16, 1741
 What a wonderful scene ahead! The mountains stand right in front of a bright blue sky. Even though it is mid-summer, I can see giant snow-capped mountains in the far distance. Imagine the things future visitors will see! The many islands off the coast will also make many opportunities for fishing and future settlers, although I would not want to be on one in a terrible hurricane (or typhoons, as the eastern ocean sailors call them).
August 23,1741
 Today is our last day exploring America. We encountered some dark-skinned  people who are natives of this area, but they look a lot like some of the native people of Asia. I wonder if they could be related? We could not speak their language, but they were friendly to us and showed us some plants we could store for the trip home. Tomorrow we will travel west into the great ocean toward Kamchatka.
August 30, 1741
 Now that we have seen the wonders of America, the open sea seems dull and uninteresting, but each day gets us closer to home.
September 6, 1741
 I have felt ill for the last few days and am having trouble writing this entry. My strength has decreased and I cannot keep my food down. The crew has done fine without my encouragement. Tomorrow we will hopefully land on an island to fill our water reserves and rest.
September 13, 1741
 I grow weaker and weaker and fear that I will end my journey here. I now realize that I have the dreaded scurvey, from not eating enough fruit over the prior months. This place will become my final resting place, and it will be forever known as Bering Island.