On This Day – May 19th 1916

Into The Unknown – Crossing South Georgia

The Endurance Expedition

The almost impossible had been achieved, and for Shackleton, Crean, Worsley, McCarthy, Vincent and McNish, the 16 day crossing of the Weddell Sea, in the James Caird, concluded as it had eventuated – in another desperate struggle! But try as they might, the shattered men simply could not summon the strength to drag their lifeboat from the icy water.
Food and rest would be required, before that task could be completed. The Caird was lashed to a boulder, and a watch would be maintained to safeguard the vessel from being driven onto the rocky shore, by the incoming sea. Tom Crean was sent to seek out shelter, and in the darkness duly located a small cave, which would serve such purpose. Sleeping bags and cooking gear were moved there, and finally a hot meal was prepared.
After eating Shackleton ordered the men to get some sleep, and typical of his spirit he opted to man the first watch. No doubt he pondered and plotted their next move, as he kept vigil over the boat. The following morning, May 11th, the men prepared to get the James Caird ashore, by first consuming another hot meal, and with the sea receding somewhat, they then set about the task. It was a strenuous, difficult undertaking, and it highlighted to the men just how weak and undernourished they were after their gruelling voyage. Eventually they succeeded in dragging the boat onto the beach, and then clear of the high water marks. It was a great relief to the party to finally have the Caird beached, as it would be needed to sail again. Continue Reading →

On This Day – May 10th 1916

The James Caird Reaches South Georgia.

The Endurance Expedition.

“We fought the seas and the winds and at the same time had a daily struggle to keep ourselves alive. At times we were in dire peril.”
Sir Ernest Shackleton – South

On May 10th 1916 Shackleton, Worsley, Crean, McCarthy, Vincent and McNish reached South Georgia aboard the James Caird lifeboat, which they had sailed from Elephant Island. The 800 mile journey across the planets most violent stretch of water had taken them 16 torrid days to complete. One can only wonder, as to whether the weary, frozen, starved and parched men realised the sheer enormity of their achievement, as they dragged themselves and their boat from the icy waters that day.
Traversing the Southern Ocean is never anything less than a mammoth task. Doing so in a 23 foot long lifeboat during the Antarctic Winter, is almost beyond comprehension. But that is exactly what those six men did. Continue Reading →