Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 expedition was an attempt to cross Antarctica from one side to the other via the South Pole, but in January 1915 the expedition ship, the Endurance, became locked in the ice of the Weddell Sea, which slowly crushed and finally sank the vessel over the following months, while Shackleton and his men camped on the ice.
The photos above by expedition photographer Frank Hursley are from this period – a much bigger selection can be seen at howtobearetronaut.com.
Eventually they were able to travel with their boats to Elephant Island, from which a small group led by Shackleton sailed one of the Endurance’s ship’s boats, the Sir James Caird, over a distance of 800 miles to the the inhabited island of South Georgia to get help.
For more posts about Shackleton’s Endurance expedition and about the celebrated Sir James Caird voyage to South Georgia click here; for photos of South Georgia itself, click here.
These fascinating landscapes come from members of the Row to the Pole expedition led by veteran Arctic explorer Jock Wishart.
Click on the shots for a much bigger and better view: all but the last image are taken by Antony Woodford by the way – so thanks Antony!
The expedition sponsored by Old Pulteney Whisky aims to row to the Magnetic North Pole to demonstrate how much ice has gone from the area through global warming, and it certainly seems strange to note that until recent years the rocks and land at these high latitudes probably haven’t seen the sky for hundreds of thousands of years. That’s my guess, but no doubt the expeditions scientific advisers can provide the real figure.
The seriously scary information these rowers want to get across is that at its current rate of melting, the polar ice cap could disappear completely in three decades.
Doubtless this would have a profound effect on our weather systems.
Regular readers may recall reading that boatbuilder and historian Will Stirling is skippering a BBC camera boat following the expedition.
Ice yachting in Holland
Dominic von Stösser has emailed to point out another intriguing YouTube clip, this time showing ice yachting in Holland:
‘Seems USians aren’t the only ones sailing on ‘hard water’ — I found a YouTube clip of ice sailing in Holland:
I’t looks like they’ve just strapped their gaff-rigged ‘soft water’ skiffs onto runners!
‘I can’t help but wonder what a Bolger Light Schooner would be like on ice…
Many thanks Dominic! I doubt the boat-shaped ice yacht fuselages could possibly sail with those huge rigs, but it’s fun to imagine.
Dominic’s email piqued my interest in what else might be around on YouTube, and searching revealed this sequence, which includes graphic evidence of what happens when one of these ice yachts falls through the ice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvpNIkFtMEE
Accident on the ice
PS Jaap in Holland has made some interesting comments – see the comments link below – and included some splendid links. If you’ve interestede in ice sailing in particular, you definitely should not miss this one in particular: http://www.ijsschuiten.nl/ and http://www.icesailing.nl/robbenvloot.html – amazingly, they’ve got a ice yacht that goes back to the 1830s.
Now, I have a historical question: was it the Dutch who taught New Yorkers to sail on ice?