Alexandra Shackleton hove to
After 11 days at sea, the intrepid crew aboard the Alexandra Shackleton is now within sight of South Georgia island, but with nightfall approaching, skipper Nick Bubb has made the call to drop most if its sail and ‘heave to’ off the coast, allowing for a safe landfall on the rocky shoreline at daybreak.
Bubb said over the radio that he was concerned about the thick fog that has set in within the last hour making visibility difficult and navigating into a bay in unfamiliar territory would be unwise.
With first light some 10-12 hours away and with an anticipated successful landing at King Haakon Bay on South Georgia’s north west coast, the crew of four Brits and two Australians will achieve their first goal of the Shackleton Epic expedition by completing Leg 1 of the historic re-enactment which left Elephant Island on 23 January UTC.
Expedition leader Tim Jarvis said that this had been the most uncomfortable 11 days of his life so far, which has been peppered by extraordinary adventures, many of them in Antarctica or the Arctic.
“Although we have all been on longer journeys, none have been more challenging or uncomfortable than this one. All six crew members including myself have voted the lack of space and cramped conditions as the number one challenge faced to date on this journey."
"Living and working at such close quarters with five other men has been a challenge but we've worked really well together and pulled together as a team quite effectively,” Jarvis said.
Commenting on the performance of the 22.5ft replica life boat Tim Jarvis said: "The Alexandra Shackleton has proven herself so far, but at the beginning of the journey we had doubts if she would be able to stand up to the test. Early on there were a few nervous nights filled with doubt. Shackleton too had these same doubts about the seaworthiness of the James Caird, which is only natural considering the size of the vessel and the ferocity of the Southern Ocean on a bad day."
During the 800 nautical mile voyage, the Alexandra Shackleton has encountered gale force winds over 50 knots and seas towering 7-8m high as well as the occasional giant ‘rogue wave’. At the other end of the spectrum, they’ve also been virtually becalmed with a couple of periods where they recorded a speed of only one knot in the windless, lumpy conditions.
Once the crew make landfall on South Georgia, they plan to rest briefly before commencing the trek over its mountainous, crevassed interior to reach the old whaling station at Stromness – just as Shackleton and his men did almost 100 years ago. It should take them at least two days to complete the crossing.