Search for Shackleton's Endurance


Steve Smith

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Mar 20, 2011
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An expedition is to be mounted in an attempt to locate and film Endurance under the ice off Antarctica. The belief is that the ship and artifacts should have been well preserved because of the low water temperature.
A rival bid - led by David Mearns, who found HMS Hood - is apparently looking at raising the ship
 
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Tom Pappas

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Is it possible for searchers to steam back and forth towing magnetometers in the time-honored fashion? The pictures I have of that site seem to show a lot of ice year-round. The celestial fix left by Worsley is probably only good for a mile or two, since they chose not to use GPS, so a lot of icebreaking would be involved.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Tom -- Frank Worsley was an unsually talented navigator. He not only hit South Georgian Island "dead nuts" in the middle, but then he took the rescue ship back to the rest of the crew on Elephant Island. If anyone could have pinpointed the spot where Endurance vanished, it would have been that man.

I'm not surprised Worsley did not use the GPS of his day. Those coal-fired units were notorious for giving back azimuths.

--David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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Well, I did say "a mile or two," and that's within the parameters of your colorful rubric.

By the way, I think the voyage of James Caird is one of the most extraordinary maritime feats of all time. What a shame that A&E only gave it only five minutes of screen time.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Shackleton as leader of the expedition gets deserved credit for bringing back his whole crew after a catastrophic shipwreck. After all, they were at the "other end" of the world without radio or other means of long-distance communictions. Shackleton kept the group focused on survival--which they did.

Frank Worsley is the "best kept secret" of the sea. His navigtion in the James Caird was a quatum leap beyond anything any one else had done to that time--or probably ever will do again. He had only one chance to make South Georgian Island in a boat not as big as the average yacht today. He put them right on the island despite horrible conditions which included his navigation tables turning to paper mache.

Three of the men from the Caird then walked across South Georgian, a feat not believed possible by men not equipped for mountain climbing. In his book, "Shackleton's Boat Journey" (W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-30376-4), Worsley described that terrible journey in detail. The men involved in the cross-island trek were Worsley, Shackleton, and Crean. Afterward, the navigator wrote:

"...Sir Ernest and I, comparing notes, found that we each had a strange feeling there had been a fourth in our party, and Crean afterwards confessed the same thing."

Of course, there had been no fourth man, at least not one of the Endurance crew. But, all three remembered a strong arm helping them down the mountains. At the time the trio was tired beyond human endurance, cold, and hungry. Halucinations are not unusual under those conditions, but for three people to have a shared halucination...???

Make of it what you will. One thing certain, if they ever build a hall of fame for navigators, Worsley's statue will be in the front lobby.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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Got it, Phil. Too much seal pups, not enough steaming through ice.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Point taken. But very little footage of seabirds nesting is more than enough for me. I thought the sight of Hurley clinging to the topgallant yard with a 40-pound cine camera was worth the price of admission, though.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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As all Shacks officiandoes know, the fourth man that Shackleton, Crean and Worsley all had an impression of became the inspiration for the following passage from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
- But who is that on the other side of you?


Worsley was perhaps not at his best as a leader of men, and he perhaps became a bit colourful in some of his taller yarns, but as a navigator he was without doubt superb. Might have a fiddle later and try to upload some photos I took of the James Caird in January - Fiona and I hauled along a crew of family and friends to an exhibition in Sydney, the centrepiece of which was this small craft.

My father worked with Frank Hurley's daughter in his early career as a newspaperman (chief of staff and photographic editor). Jemma might have something to say on Hurley as well, as his expedition with Mawson, pre-dating the Shackleton pan-Antarctic attempt, is of particular interest to us. I know I've enjoyed his words on Ninnis, a figure that Jemma is currently doing some ground-breaking research on here in the UK with unpublished personal and official documents. One of the most intriguing things she's uncovered is Belgrave Ninnis' extraordinary friendship with Shackleton (even Huntford's comprehensive Shacks biography only makes a passing reference to Belgrave Ninnis , and none at all to his relationship with Sir Ernest). It will be remembered that Belgrave's cousin accompanied Shackleton in 1914.
 

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