A replica of the James Caird built by the International Boatbuilding Training College was officially named and launched at Portland on Sunday, 18th March.
She is to be used by the Shackleton Epic Expedition to recreate Ernest Shackleton’s original voyage in April 1916, when he and five others sailed their ship’s boat, the original James Caird, 8oo miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia in order to get help for the rest of the crew of the Endurance, which had been crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea.
On landing on South Georgia they then faced a climb over snow- and ice-covered mountains without maps to the whaling station at Grytviken to raise the alarm.
This is the first time both elements of the journey have been attempted, and it will be filmed as a documentary. The expedition will be led by Tim Jarvis, explorer and environmentalist.
The replica boat was named after the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, who is patron of the expedition and granddaughter of Sir Ernest.
The original James Caird lies at Dulwich College, London, and so the IBTC was able to take the accurate measurements, offsets and scantling dimensions required for an authentic replica, by kind permission of the college archivist Calista Lucy.
The Alexandra Shackleton was built in two stages, as was the original, which started life as an open whaler, and was then modified on the ice after the Endurance was lost. The topsides were built up by three planks, and then decked-in to leave only a small open cockpit. Two spars were added, with a third bolted to the keel to add strength and act as a mast step.
It’s reported that on launching the new boat leaked not a drop. Sebastian Coulthard, who is due to crew with Jarvis, said that he was really impressed with the build quality and sturdiness of the boat.
Ballasting and sea trials will follow.
For more intheboatshed.net posts relating to the Shackleton expedition, the famous voyage in the James Caird, and to the new expedition and its boat, click here, here, here, here and here. And there’s more if you look hard…
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.