Too close for comfort...Lisa McDonald, skipper Amer Sports Too, and her ice expedition...
Strangely enough I've had Shackleton on my mind today and his great expeditions through the ice.
As I sit here watching the radar screen and the onslaught of ice reports from the rest of the fleet, as they appear on the computer, I wonder what it must have been like without modern technology down here? The personal and physical hardships of facing the extremes of the elements in this part of the world would be very similar. Shackleton and his crew changed and adjusted their ship as the conditions changed; we do much the same. When we gybe the boat it's like moving house, your bedroom, living quarters get all packed up along with any stackable goods and they get transported to the other side only to be re-opened and re-settled on the opposite side of the boat until the conditions change again.
Quite often on a cold dark night all you will see down below is the faint glow of the gas cooker and the smell of something warm and savoury lingers in the air. I imagine you might have found the same onboard Shackleton's boat at night. The only thing we seem to be missing is a collection of sled dogs and scientists impatient to get their feet on solid ground.
Shackleton must have felt a great sense of responsibility in taking a full crew and boat down into the uncharted South. I can relate to that. Each and every degree we go further south and with every ice report which comes in, I think of the crew and how every last ounce of effort and energy is being put into making this boat go as fast as it can in these conditions. The good thing about following the others through this part of the world is that we now have a chart with not only our course but also every ice sighting and report plotted. Now we just have to be careful in threading the needle and going forward.
People are always in awe of why we do this race; giving up the warmth and luxury of home and all that it offers. But after a day’s sailing like today, boat and crew on top form in 3 degrees c' hooning down big waves at great speeds with icebergs looming in the not too distant mist and eyes wide open and ready for anything and everything - I wouldn't trade this for anything else in the world. This is our expedition through the ice, only at 20-25kts, not 5-10kts.