Tim Jarvis-led Shackleton voyage re-enactment to set out mid-January

Shackleton Epic - Expedition Vessel,  Alexandra Shackleton

Shackleton Epic - Expedition Vessel,  Alexandra Shackleton dockside.  Credit Peter Wooldridge Illustration- Alexandra Shackleton Cabin Layout Shackleton Epic Map

Explorer Tim Jarvis’s expedition to honour a remarkable 800-nautical mile small boat voyage across the Southern Ocean led by  Sir Ernest Shackleton from Elephant Island to South Georgia, followed by crossing South Georgia’s mountainous interior, is scheduled to set out from Elephant Island on around the 17th January.

The expedition will culminate in a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken.

Read all about the new expedition here. Jarvis and his group of five British and Australian adventurers hope to become the first to re-enact the original voyage using authentic equipment, including an exact replica of the original ship’s boat, the 22ft James Caird.

The only concessions to the use of period equipment are to be modern emergency equipment and radios, and the presence of a support vessel. However, both are to be used only if the expedition.

Shackleton made his original gruelling journey to South Georgia in order to summon help to rescue the rest of his shipwrecked expedition, who he had left at Elephant Island. Against extreme odds, he and the James Caird’s small crew succeeded in their aim, and became heroes.

In more recent times, Shackleton himself has been singled out for his leadership qualities, which are frequently cited in seminars on business management, and the new expedition has played strongly on this dimension.

From reading about the original expedition, I have to say that Shackleton himself he seems to have been very much loved and respected by almost all of his crew, not least because he had a keen sense of responsibility for their welfare.

How this links with business and other organisations, however, I’m not too sure. Businesses in particular these days tend to regard staff below board level as expendable – employment is a market, after all, and everyone can be replaced as the management schools say. More, with some honoured exceptions, their leaders seem mostly to be utterly unlovable and frightening tyrants, as famous for their tempers as for their self-interest and convenient self-deceptions. Not that their lieutenants would be so foolish as to tell them so…

I’d say Shackleton was very different creature from many of today’s managers. My hope is that the right lessons are being learned from the emerging management legend of Shackleton as leader.

For more posts about Shackleton, the James Caird voyage and the building of the traditionally-built replica made for the new voyage by the IBTC at Lowestoft, click here and click back through older posts.

PS – Go to the comments link below to find a different take on Shackleton himself, and a splendid description of an earlier re-enactment of the South Georgia voyage. Apart from anything else, it makes clear the scale of the problems such a trip can encounter.

James Caird replica Alexandra Shackleton is launched at Portland

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…

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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