After several days of exploration and evidently profitable sealing, Wasp left the Kerguelens on 11 January 1823, sailing south and east to record her furthest eastern position at 64°52'S, 118°27'E on 1 February. From this point, according to his own account, Morrell decided to take advantage of strong easterly winds, and made a rapid passage westward back to the Greenwich meridian, 0°. His account is light on details, but indicates that a distance of more than 3,500 miles (5,600 km) was covered in 23 days. The credibility of this claim of such fast, direct travel in ice-infested waters has been widely disputed, particularly as Morrell quotes southerly latitudes during the voyage which later proved to be at least 100 miles inside the then undiscovered Antarctic continental mainland. On 28 February Wasp reached Candlemas Island in the South Sandwich Islands. After a few days spent in a search for fuel to feed the ship's stoves Wasp sailed southwards on 6 March, into the area later known as the Weddell Sea. Finding the sea remarkably free of ice, Morrell advanced to 70°14'S before turning north-westward on 14 March. This retreat, Morrell says, was due to the ship's lack of fuel; otherwise, he claims, in these open waters he could have taken the ship to 85°, or perhaps to the Pole itself. These words are very similar to those used by the British explorer James Weddell to describe his own experiences in the same area, a month earlier, which has led historians to suspect that Morrell may have plagiarised Weddell's experiences.
us passport renewal