Photos: Si Wagen/Shackleton

Shackleton Epic expedition sets sail

Paul Larsen, Nick Bubb and co depart Elephant Island

Thursday January 24th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

At 1900 GMT yesterday, the intrepid crew of the Shackleton Epic expedition did what they’ve been planning to do for many months and quietly set sail on their little boat from near Point Wild, Elephant Island bound for South Georgia, some 800 nautical miles across the Southern Ocean, just like Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men did almost 100 years before.

With unusually moderate winds blowing from the south at 5-10 knots, the Alexandra Shackleton a 22.5ft long whaler (and an exact replica of the James Caird), with six British and Australian adventurers crammed on board, set out in a 0.5m swell slowly clearing the coast and the looming pack ice to the east.

It is their goal to become the first to authentically recreate what is acknowledged as the greatest journey of survival, honouring the legend of Shackleton as the centenary of his expedition, the last of the heroic age, approaches (Endurance expedition of 1914-1916) - reaed our interview with Nick Bubb here.

Expedition leader, Tim Jarvis, 46, a well known British/Australian polar adventurer, said that while he and his crew are recreating the expedition as authentically as possible, with similar gear, navigation instruments and boat, he believes he is merely walking in Shackleton’s wake.

“I hope this expedition not only does his memory justice but also reminds us all of how incredibly beautiful, yet fragile, this part of the world is. Hopefully, if we succeed, we’ll be able to shine another light on the changing Antarctic environment.

“I’m doing this expedition to test the more resourceful side of myself, to honour the memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton by undertaking this most challenging of journeys and to draw attention to the effects of climate change on Antarctica and ultimately, the planet."

Shackleton Epic has nominated Fauna & Flora International (FFI) as its conservation partner for the expedition and hopes to raise funds for its work to combat climate change.

Shackleton Epic’s patron, The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Sir Ernest’s granddaughter who originally approached Jarvis about recreating the journey, sent her good wishes along with those of Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Governor-General, Her Excellency, Quentin Bryce.

“As the very proud Patron of the Shackleton Epic Expedition I am sending my warmest good wishes to Tim Jarvis & his five companions as they depart. The Expedition will be incredibly demanding both at sea & on land, but I have every confidence that the men will remember my grandfather's words, 'difficulties are just things to overcome'. There will be a triumphant conclusion, and a wonderful tribute to Ernest Shackleton & his companions of 1916,” Alexandra Shackleton said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard added: “On behalf of our nation – and in the warm spirit of Anglo-Australian friendship - I wish you well in the challenging days ahead....I trust you will re-capture some of Shackleton’s ethos as well, and thus return uplifted in spirit and full of renewed admiration for this remarkable man and what he was able to achieve in the name of science and humanity.”

Jarvis paid tribute to his expedition crew who have dedicated themselves to the task of preparing for the expedition during the past year, and to their supporters and family.

“While we’ve been careful to plan well to avoid unnecessary risks as Shackleton tried to do, clearly there are inherent dangers involved in attempting an expedition of this magnitude. Shackleton’s journey certainly defied the odds and he and his men returned home safely and we aim to emulate them.

“The crew and I want to express our utmost gratitude to our friends and family, sponsors and supporters as well as the community of adventures and sailors who have assisted with this expedition.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to receive support from many sponsors and organisations like the outstanding support and commitment from our presenting partner, Intrepid Travel, our major sponsors Arup and St.George Bank and Mackinlay’s Rare Old Malt Scotch Whisky...a fine drop that will help sustain us during the voyage.

“Special thanks should also go to the personnel at the Polish base at Arctowski on King George Island who have been incredibly hospitable and supportive throughout our two weeks of sea trailing at their base. I have said that our success will be theirs too.”

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