Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just Wow

The Endurance getting slowly crushed by ice

Last night I read an article by Jo Lennan in The Monthly. Here is an excerpt:

"Wonderful, aren't they?" Jarvis said as he donned the mitts. "They look just like beavers. There are lots of jokes, obviously." The rugged 46 year old slipped the lanyard over his head. "It's like a kid when you don't want him to lose his gloves - but you cannot afford to lose your gloves. You put one down, it gets blown away and you lose your fingers."

A composite photograph and drawing of the Endurance crew's whaleboat hut
on Elephant Island
He was preparing for a journey that is now underway: in mid January, Jarvis and a five man crew set sail from Elephant Island, off the Antarctic coast. They aim to re-enact Ernest Shackleton's 1916 sea-and-land crossing to a whaling station on the island of South Georgia - and, along the way, to photograph signs of climate change.

Sir Ernest Shackleton

To keep things interesting, they've gone with vintage gear, right down to their replica seven metre whaler - "really a hopeless boat." The Monthly, February, 2013, p.13.


A drawing of the whaleboat James Caird sailing from Elephant Island
to South Georgia to raise the alarm of the Endurance sinking.

Shackleton and crew arriving at South Georgia

"The cliffs we descended whilst crossing the island"
South Georgia.

The Endurance's journey in red.
The James Caird in blue.


This morning I woke up to Fran Kelly on Radio National interviewing Tim  Jarvis, who has just made it, along with Barry Grey, from Elephant Island via the huge seas of the Southern Ocean to South Georgia and then overland to that island's whaling station. They achieved this amazing feat with much the same equipment as Shackleton's crew: hobnail boots, sleeping bags stitched from reindeer hides, beaver skin mitts, a single wooden adze for a mountain climbing pick and a wooden boat whose maximum speed is around two knots.

I've rarely heard Fran Kelly, the cool-as-a-cucumber political reporter, sound so excited.
Here is a link to her interview. It's great.
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/adventurer-replicates-famous-antarctic-exhibition/4513486




And here is a link to The Shackleton Epic's website: http://shackletonepic.com/
Colour images: Adelaide Now and The Australian.

22 comments:

  1. I really like the perspective on that map!

    And I also want to get to the Antarctic...better listen to the recent travellers for tips.

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    1. It would be a pretty amazing thing to do, under more comfortable conditions.
      I like this story because I always thought that people no longer possess the same kind of fortitude as the Flinders and Shackletons of the past.

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  2. Good point Sarah. I can't imagine putting myself through something like that. Living here, I have no appetite whatsoever for cold of that calibre..

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    1. That is totally understandable Ciaran!

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  3. Awesome - I've been in bigger seas in the Bite than that whaling boat is in but in a much better boat! No way would I go to sea in that.

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  4. It gets better: The original James Caird and the 2013 replica had no keel, prone to capsizing and hopeless at an about turn, should someone go overboard. The boat would keep blowing away. Then coming into shore at South Georgia in 80 knot winds followed by a two or three day trek through the glaciers to the whaling station.

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    1. OMG! No keel......I used to worry enough about the bloody keel falling off in a storm!

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    2. I like keels.
      Once when departing the whalechaser wreck, a squall set in and our keel-less canoes were so full of brass booty that we were spun around on the spot between wind waves, until we tipped out and were marooned on the beaches of Quaranup. That was it for me. Having to walk sodden into a CEO's team-building workshop was the moment in my life when I decided that every sea going vessel should have a keel.

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  5. After having endured the winter of two years ago when the temperature fell to minus 18C for several days.
    I am not enamoured by Jarvis & Grey.

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  6. That is totally understandable Mr Heron!

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    1. Any other Irishmen out there who need understanding?

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    2. Just ... wow. Okay, from this point herein all Irishmen are forgiven their complaints.

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    3. Sarah you are very kind, remind me to allow you to buy the first pint when we meet :)

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  7. Hey ST, have you read the Brendan Voyage? Awesome story - I remember trying to read it in the cockpit on our sail to Geraldton but got spooked by every slap of wave so I gave up reading it until I was back in port!

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  8. For some reason I have not read it yet MF, though many people have told me to. After the book ... after the phd ... you know how it is.

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  9. Yeah, I've got the hardcopy when you've done all that other stuff.

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  10. That third photo reminds me I'm Tom Stephenson

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    1. You are? He looks a lot younger than Shackleton in his profile picture!

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  11. Was Shackleton crazy brave and Tim and Barry just crazy? I can understand the desire and the challenge but I'd rather follow in Shackleton's footsteps with the benefit of modern equipment. That would be hard enough. Are projects like this an indication of a society full of men (sorry) with nothing left to prove but to go back in time and repeat others genuinly original expeditions. I look forward to live TV coverage of the first man to circumnavigate the moon on foot.

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  12. Yes, definitely a lack of frontiers going on these days ... Spot on Mr Hat. But Shackleton was motivated by trying to save about twenty five lives, rather than crazy brave stuff, I think.

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  13. Agree. And his initial quest was real frontier stuff. I'm hoping to do a mini frontier trip to New Ireland in PNG in the next 12 months. I'm no brave explorer though. It will be remote but with cell phones and airlines and relaible motor launches (I hope). Strange how one of the few remaining remote frontiers is on our doorstep and we consistently overfly it to other destinations.

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