Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stories of Survival

We took the zodiacs out around Elephant Island, which is steep and rocky with little actual flat area, and home to a colony of Chinstrap Penguins and one solitary Macaroni Penguin. This is where 22 men of Ernest Shackelton’s crew of the ship called The Endurance were forced to spend the winter in 1916. This is after being on sea for over 400 days and previous to the island surviving in a make shift camp on ice flow after their ship was crushed. They reached Elephant island split between 3 life boats. The entire crew numbered 27 of which 5, including the leader Shackelton set out on an impossible journey of over 800 miles in open sea in one of the life boats to try and reach a whaler station in South Georgia. Once the miraculously reached South Georgia, 3 of them, again including Shackleton, marched for 36 hours straight over dangerous crevasses and unyielding landscape for 30 miles to reach the whaler station. At the end of August, after 3 attempts, Shackelton and crew successfully rescued all 22 men who had been left on Elephant island, for the past 5 months. What all 27 men endured is mind boggling. I encourage you read more about their story online or pick up one of the many books available.

There are many such stories of early explorers, whalers, seal hunters, scientists and so forth that have made astonishing travels to Antarctica. There is a quote that goes “For scientific discovery give me Scott, for speed and efficiency if travel, give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shakelton.” - Sir Raymond Priestly

We will spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at open sea traveling to South Georgia islands. 

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