Shag Rocks and Shackleton

We still have calm seas and are continuing to sail east to South Georgia. Today, we turned our clocks onwards one hour and that has been easy with little confusion. Our day has continued normally – breakfast at 8.00 am, lunch at 12.30 and dinner at 7.30 pm.  While at sea, we have had a number of talks, a movie and one of the staff is currently leading a Yoga session on the top deck.

This morning, I sat in on a talk by Alexandra Shackleton, Sir Ernest’s Granddaughter. She explained about her family background and the Shackleton Foundation of which she is patron. She told the story of Shackleton’s heroic expedition of 1912 and I have just watched a documentary in the presentation room about it. Shackleton turns out to be an inspiring leader of men and he and his crew owed there lives to him.

In 1912 he was leading an expedition aiming to cross Antarctica, when his ship was trapped in the ice and crushed. His party lived on the ice for something like 14 months. When the ice broke up, Shackleton moved his men over seven days to Elephant Island, just of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsular. He left most of them there while he and five others set sail in a tiny boat aiming to reach South Georgia where he could find help at a Norwegian Whaling Station. This took another seventeen days, to cover a distance of 800 miles. Because of the weather, their boat was blown to the south of the island, resulting in Shackleton and two others then having to hike across an incredibly steep mountain range. This took another 3 days. Finally, they reached the whaling station and set out in a ship to rescue those left on the south coast of South Georgia and Elephant Islands. All men were found alive, although in terrible health. This is an incredible story of survival, leadership and inspiration.

This afternoon, we had a compulsory inspection of our outdoor clothing and boots. They had to be clean and free of any potential ecological hazards. The staff inspected all our outer clothing, vacuumed our packs and made us wash any unclean boots. Then we all had to sign a statement saying we understood our ecological obligations. We will not be allowed ashore at South Georgia unless all of us, including leaders, have signed it and the document has been given to the government authorities there.

We are now heading for Right Whale Bay where we should arrive sometime int the early morning. Mid afternoon today, we sailed past Shag Rocks, a couple of near vertical spires of rock about 110 miles from Georgia, but the sea fog was too dense for us to see them. Since crossing the Antarctic Convergence (the line where the cold dense Antarctic water meets the warmer Atlantic Ocean water), the temperature has dropped to about 2 degrees C, the air is more moist and we have been surrounded by light fog. We sailed past Shag Rocks at a distance of about a mile and a half, but we couldn’t see anything of them. The most successful part of the afternoon was a ‘Shagging’ party on the top deck with coffee and Baileys to celebrate our sail past.

I had a shot at taking some pictures of Albatross that were gliding around the stern of the ship, but I was having a little difficulty with my camera. It kept locking up and freezing (not the temperature type of freezing) . I discovered that my memory card is damaged, so i have changed it and i hope that this will fix the problem. I’m sure that i will find out when we arrive in Georgia tomorrow.

One comment

  1. Joy parsons · ·

    I have been reading your travel notes each day dear Bruce , & enjoying them thooroughly. Love Joy