The grim grandeur of South Georgia

Stromness from the pass – the point where Shackleton, Crean
and Worsley first saw safety

Stromness Bay

Jeff Cole has kindly sent us some photos taken by ‘Bill‘, a friend of his father-in-law, showing scenes from South Georgia, the South Atlantic island where Sir Ernest Shackleton and his escaping polar explorer crew landed in the original James Caird, a small ship’s boat adapted to make the journey from Elephant Island.

Having landed, a big task still faced them, as they they then had to cross the mountainous island to reach safety at Stromness. If anyone has any doubt about the scale of the task, these stark photos should make it clear. This page describes the geography and history of the place.

Thanks Jeff – there’s something great about these photos. For more photos that Jeff has provided over the last 18 months or so, click here.

For more posts on the James Caird, the replica of the original boat being built by the IBTC for a new expedition to repeat the voyage led by Tim Jarvis, click here.

A whaler’s graveyard, a desolate beach,
and an abandoned whaler

Plaque in commemoration of the Shackleton expedition’s
arrival at the manager’s villa, Stromness

The Wikipedia has much more good stuff on Shackleton, but I think the quote from early in expedition member Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s wonderful book The Worst Journey in the World is perhaps the expedition leader’s best memorial: ‘For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time.’

Faithful James Caird replica to sail from Elephant to South Georgia

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Adventurer Tim Jarvis and the Hon Alexandra Shackleton
with the original James Caird at last year’s Earl’s Court
Sail, Power & Watersports Show

A replica of Shackleton’s famous boat the James Caird built at the the Sail, Power & Watersports Show at Earl’s Court will be used to re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1916 voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

The boat to be built at the show from the 26th to the 30th November is to be completed by the International Boat Building Training College (IBTC) by the end of 2009, when she will go to Antarctica to follow in the wake of the original James Caird under the leadership of adventurer Tim Jarvis.

Show sales director Caroline Evans and the Hon Alexandra Shackleton last year asked the IBTC to consider building a replica of the James Caird suitable for a re-enactment. The college then met expedition leader Tim, and the build was agreed.

Extensive help from both Dulwich College (where the original James Caird is housed) and Greenwich Maritime Museum has enabled the IBTC to build a boat that is faithful to the original.

I’ve read original expedition member Frank Worsley’s 1933 account of the original voyage Shackleton’s Boat Journey,  and all I can say is that Jarvis must be a very brave man, even if he will presumably have modern equipment to help him and his crew.

The International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) trains people of all ages from all over the world in the skills and techniques required to build and restore traditional wooden boats. The teaching ‘tools’ are a range of 30 boats from 9ft dinghies to 44ft blue water cruisers, all of which are completed to a professional standard.

The IBTC always runs an ‘active’ stand with work on various projects going on from building small boats to steaming mast hoops etc. The team is always happy to answer the boating public’s questions where it can, and people are welcome to ‘have a go’ where appropriate even down to such basics as sharpening a chisel.

PS – While you’re at the show, do drop in on the Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association stand, where we’re told craftsmen will be only too happy to show you their latest work, and answer questions on restorations.

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