This excerpt comes not from the writings of Bering, but from the account of the Kamchatka Expeditions by Gerhard Friedrich Müller, a German member of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences. Müller travelled to Siberia on the Second Kamchatka Expedition but turned back for St. Petersburg before the ships left Okhotsk. In 1758, he published the only official account to come out during the 18th century. It was based upon the reports of expedition members Spanberg, Walton, Stellar, Waxell, Captain Chirikov, and the expedition maps and logs delivered to the Admiralty College. The passage recounts the events of early November 1741, as the scurvy-ridden crew of the Sv. Petr drifted helplessly in the north Pacific.
“The continual rains now began to turn to hail and snow. The nights became ever longer and darker, and with that risk increased because they could not for a moment be certain about the safety of the ship. At the same time an almost complete lack of fresh water developed. The few people who were on their feet could no longer endure so much work. They excused themselves with this impossibility and wished for themselves only an early death – which they saw as inevitable – and much preferable to such a miserable life.
The ship remained for a few days without any government. It lay like a log on the water and was left naked to the winds and waves, wherever these wanted to drive it. No strictness could have been used against the despairing crew … some allowed themselves to be persuaded to remain on deck and they resolved to work as long as it was possible for them.
This was the condition of the ship when, early in the morning of 4 November, they began to sail toward the west without knowing in what latitude they were or how far they might still be from Kamchatka. How could they know this, since it had not been possible to take observations in such a long time? Consequently the ship’s reckoning, since it remained so long without correction, must have daily increased in uncertainty. However, a westerly course was the only one by which they could still hope to get back to Kamchatka. And how glad they were soon after that when, at eight o’clock in the morning, they were able to see land!”