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...we have a great deal to do to the ship preparatory to going down south among the ice....

 

Challenger, preparing for the next phase of her journey, would remain in Simon's Bay at the Cape of Good Hope from October 28 to December 15, 1873.

This Bay is about 40 sq. miles in extent, & entirely surrounded by immense mountains, shutting out the sea view inland altogether. The coast has the same barren uninviting appearance it had off Barbary over 5000 miles further north; & from whatever part of the African continent you look at from the sea, the view is everywhere the same, great mountains & sandy deserts until you get further inland. The Cape of Good Hope lies just to the west of this, and is one of the boldest headlands in the world, but is not, as is generally supposed, the extreme southern point of Africa; Cape Agulhas, 80 miles to the south east extends nearly 40 miles further to the southward.


The Cape of Good Hope in a 1922 photo.

The preparations for Antarctic travels are extensive. When she next departs, Challenger will be, as Matkin puts it, "almost going out of the world for the next four months." Their long stay begins with a three day quarantine, then much of the ship's company is given leave, while Matkin remains on the now-lonely ship.

"The ship is stripped for refitting, the yards & top masts being on deck, the fore & mainyards are sprung, & the Dock yard Carpenter will have to make new ones. We were 3 days in Quarantine, & directly the Yelllow Flag was hauled down, leave was given to one watch for four days, & the greater part of them are up at Cape Town; the ship is very quiet now, for nearly all the officers & scientifics are also on leave.