top of page

Shackleton: "A fateful day..."


South. Shackleton's account of the Endurance Expedition...


“After long months of ceaseless anxiety and strain, after times when hope beat high and times when the outlook was black indeed, the end of the Endurance has come.  But though we have been compelled to abandon the ship, which is crushed beyond all hope of ever being righted, we are alive and well, and we have stores and equipment for the task that lies before us.  The task is to reach land with all the members of the Expedition.  It is hard to write what I feel.  To a sailor his ship is more than a floating home, and in the Endurance I had centred ambitions, hopes, and desires.  Now, straining and groaning, her timbers cracking and her wounds gaping, she is slowly giving up her sentient life at the very outset of her career.  She is crushed and abandoned after drifting more that 570 miles in a north-westerly direction during the 281 days since she became locked in the ice.  The distance from the point where she became beset to the place where she now rest mortally hurt in the grip of the floes is 573 miles, but the total drift through all observed position has been 1186 miles, and probably we actually covered more than 1500 miles.  We are now 346 miles from Paulet Island, the nearest point where there is any possibility of finding food and shelter.  A small hut built there by the Swedish expedition in 1902 is filled with stores left by the Argentine relief ship.  I know all about those stores, for I purchased them in London on behalf of the Argentine Government when they asked me to equip the relief expedition.  The distance to the nearest barrier west of us is about 180 miles, but a party going there would still be about 360 miles from Paulet Island and there would be no means of sustaining life on the barrier.  We could not take from here food enough for the whole journey; the weight would be too great.

            “This morning, our last on the ship, the weather was clear, with a gentle south-south-easterly to south-south-westerly breeze.  From the crow’s-nest there was no sign of land of any sort.  The pressure was increasing steadily, and the passing hours brought no relief or respite for the ship.  The attack of the ice reached its climax at 4 p.m.  The ship was hove stern up by the pressure, and the driving floe, moving laterally across the stern, split the rudder and tore out the rudder-post and stern-post.  Then, while we watched, the ice loosened and the Endurance sank a little.  The decks were breaking upwards and the water was pouring in below...


Recent Posts

See All

A Classic Shackleton Moment...

April 12, 1916 - Orde-Lees' Journal - excerpt As we and the day advanced, the weather deteriorated but the sun's disc was sufficiently visible through the haze for Captain Worsley to get the much desi

A "strange contrast"

As the days darken earlier in the northern hemisphere, we can relate to Shackleton's words in South and marvel at the extraordinary cheerfulness of the Endurance crew... "A fine aurora in the evening

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page