The Nightmare Voyage of the Diana

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The whale ship, Diana, left Lerwick in early May 1866, bound for the Greenland whaling. Thirteen of the crew would perish after the ship was trapped overwinter in the Arctic ice. The toll included nine Shetlanders, two of whom died as the ship arrived in Ronas Voe, and three more in the next few days. The journal of the ship's surgeon, Charles Edward Snith, is an astonishing record of endurance, against the odds, written as the ship was battered and crushed by the "nips" with the crew wasting from starvation and the hideous effects of scurvy. "If the ship in in trouble in the nips, and expected to be stove in at any minute, how can I sit down to this log with my heart in my mouth, and a horrible death staring us in the face?" Yet write he did, scribbling this "poor log" with a pen that "trembles in my hand". No wonder!