Sunday, February 16, 2014

CHAPTER 8: ESCAPE FROM THE ICE

               SOUTH! THE STORY OF SHACKLETON’S LAST 

                             EXPEDITION 1914–1917

 Two men in heavy clothing stand surrounded by mounds of ice which extend well above the height of their heads
Early next morning (April 15) all hands were astir. The sun soon shone brightly and we spread out our wet gear to dry, till the beach looked like a particularly disreputable gipsy camp. The boots and clothing had suffered considerably during our travels. I had decided to send Wild along the coast in the Stancomb Wills to look for a new camping-ground, and he and I discussed the details of the journey while eating our breakfast of hot seal steak and blubber. The camp I wished to find was one where the party could live for weeks or even months in safety, without danger from sea or wind in the heaviest winter gale. Wild was to proceed westwards along the coast and was to take with him four of the fittest men, MarstonCreanVincent, and McCarthy. If he did not return before dark we were to light a flare, which would serve him as a guide to the entrance of the channel. The Stancomb Wills pushed off at 11 a.m. and quickly passed out of sight around the island. Then Hurley and I walked along the beach towards the west, climbing through a gap between the cliff and a great detached pillar of basalt. The narrow strip of beach was cumbered with masses of rock that had fallen from the cliffs. We struggled along for two miles or more in the search for a place where we could get the boats ashore and make a permanent camp in the event of Wild’s search proving fruitless, but after three hours’ vain toil we had to turn back. We had found on the far side of the pillar of basalt a crevice in the rocks beyond the reach of all but the heaviest gales. Rounded pebbles showed that the seas reached the spot on occasions. Here I decided to depot ten cases of Bovril sledging ration in case of our having to move away quickly. We could come back for the food at a later date if opportunity offered. 

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Monday, February 3, 2014

CHAPTER 7: PATIENCE CAMP

                  SOUTH! THE STORY OF SHACKLETON’S LAST 

                             EXPEDITION 1914–1917

 Two men sitting in front of a pointed tent; left-hand man in flat naval cap is skinning a penguin, right-hand man wears a wide-brimmed hat. Between them is a tall stove. Other equipment is visible in the background
"We were, of course, very short of the farinaceous element in our diet. The flour would last ten weeks. After that our sledging rations would last us less than three months. Our meals had to consist mainly of seal and penguin; and though this was valuable as an anti-scorbutic, so much so that not a single case of scurvy occurred amongst the party, yet it was a badly adjusted diet, and we felt rather weak and enervated in consequence.

“The cook deserves much praise for the way he has stuck to his job through all this severe blizzard. His galley consists of nothing but a few boxes arranged as a table, with a canvas screen erected around them on four oars and the two blubber-stoves within. The protection afforded by the screen is only partial, and the eddies drive the pungent blubber-smoke in all directions.”

After a few days we were able to build him an igloo of ice-blocks, with a tarpaulin over the top as a roof.

“Our rations are just sufficient to keep us alive, but we all feel that we could eat twice as much as we get. An average day’s food at present consists of ½ lb. of seal with ¾ pint of tea for breakfast, a 4-oz. bannock with milk for lunch, and ¾ pint of seal stew for supper. That is barely enough, even doing very little work as we are, for of course we are completely destitute of bread or potatoes or anything of that sort. Some seem to feel it more than others and are continually talking of food; but most of us find that the continual conversation about food only whets an appetite that cannot be satisfied. Our craving for bread and butter is very real, not because we cannot get it, but because the system feels the need of it.” 


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Saturday, February 1, 2014

CHAPTER 6: THE MARCH BETWEEN

                SOUTH! THE STORY OF SHACKLETON’S LAST                                      EXPEDITION 1914–1917

"With the exception of the night-watchman we turned in at 11 p.m., and at 3 a.m. on December 23 all hands were roused for the purpose of sledging the two boats, the James Caird and the Dudley Docker, over the dangerously cracked portion to the first of the young floes, whilst the surface still held its night crust. A thick sea-fog came up from the west, so we started off finally at 4.30 a.m., after a drink of hot coffee.

Practically all hands had to be harnessed to each boat in succession, and by dint of much careful manipulation and tortuous courses amongst the broken ice we got both safely over the danger-zone." 

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