Somerset adventurer to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s finest hour

Posted: 11/10/2011 in all marine news

This is Somerset – 

Two adventurers are to recreate the most extraordinary and gruelling rescue mission in the history of Antarctic exploration – in a tiny boat.

Navy officer Seb Coulthard, from Somerset, and skilled sailor Darren Naggs, based in Weymouth, will head up a six-strong team who will re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 800-mile voyage in an open boat across the storm-tossed Southern Ocean to South Georgia.

From there Shackleton and two crew members then had to climb an unmapped mountain range to reach a whaling station and bring aid to other members of their Antarctic expedition.

It is a feat that has never been replicated by any other explorer. Shackleton undertook the journey in the winter of 1916 after the ship Endurance, carrying his expedition to cross the Antarctic continent via the South Pole, was trapped and crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea.

It proved impossible for the 28 men to drag their stores and equipment over the frozen sea so they camped on the ice as it drifted.

When it began to break up they set out in three boats and reached barren Elephant Island, which was still 800 miles from the nearest habitation and help.

Some were too weak to sail further so Shackleton took five men and set off for South Georgia in the best of the ship’s boats, the James Caird, just seven metres long and two metres wide.

Canvas stretched across the boat gave them some shelter, but they were in constant fear of sinking as seaspray froze to ice.

After 15 days they sighted South Georgia, but even then had to wait two days to find a suitable landing place.

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