Tough 48 hours
After four days at sea, and taking a true ‘Southern Ocean battering’ during the past 48hours, the six man crew of the Alexandra Shackleton have emerged on deck, exhausted, but happy to have sunshine and dry out their clothes, sleeping bags and themselves.
The past two days have seen the Alexandra Shackleton battle 7m seas and winds gusting over 50 knots from the south. At one point the little boat hit a top speed of 7 knots – but she’s now settled back to a more steady 2 knot average speed in the comparatively lighter conditions and 15 knots of wind.
Since the expedition began on 23 January when the crew departed Elephant Island bound for South Georgia, they have covered 284 miles and chalked up 55 miles in the past 24 hours.
The support crew on the expedition support vessel Australis reports that the crew look well and happy and that they have now fixed their radio and the AIS radar tracker which became waterlogged during the two day storm.
Seen on deck and surrounded by their clothes and bedding, the crew were smiling but not very talkative as they recovered from their ordeal. "Well...it wasn't much of an Australia Day,” Tim Jarvis, expedition leader said. “As we were swapping duties on the watch in the middle of the night I extended my arm to Paul ( Larsen), shook his hand and said 'Happy Australia Day mate'. That was our official celebration - the best we could do under the circumstances."
But the crew’s weather respite may be short-lived. The wind is forecast to turn to come directly out of the north which will slow their progress considerably and make conditions on board the cramped boat extremely uncomfortable – once again.
Shackleton’s crew took 14 days to make the 800 nautical mile crossing and currently the Alexandra Shackleton is on track to at least equal this time. Eerily, they seem to be experiencing the same conditions, at a similar time in their journey as Shackleton did almost 100 years before.