… with a group of like-minded, inspirational people who get together to preserve its memory

Hands up who knows the remarkable story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica on the ship Endurance? It’s the one that took place in 1914 on his endeavour to attempt the first land crossing of the Antarctic, from the Weddell Sea through the South Pole to the Ross Sea.

Remember the part where Shackleton and his men are stranded on Elephant Island? He takes a lifeboat with Frank Worsley, Tom Crean and three others battling treacherous seas and ice for 16 days and 800 miles before reaching the ‘wrong’ side of South Georgia, with mountains between them and the whaling station that could provide the help to rescue his men…

Point Wild, Elephant Island – in the fog!

Listen to my audio introduction

If you have taken the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica trip its highly likely you now know this story intimately – if you didn’t when you embarked on your voyage, like me, then you certainly knew it well by the end! You can read an overview HERE

South Georgia Island Museum

If you read my blog ‘How this all started!’ or watched my short documentary you will have noted what incredible specialist guides we had on our trip, and Seb Coulthard, polar historian was our Shackleton expert. And he is some expert! 2013 he took part in the first reenactment of Shackleton’s epic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia using traditional equipment of that time and in an exact replica of the James Caird lifeboat. Named Alexander Shackleton in honour of Shackleton’s granddaughter, Patron of the expedition, this little boat and its men were tested too in these treacherous seas. Read about this inspiring adventure HERE.

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South Georgia is special, what with it being Shackleton’s final resting place. It’s a tradition when you visit to have a tot of his favourite Scotch whisky, toasting his life, drinking half and pouring the rest on his grave. At still much celebrated figure by all that visit.It’s fitting that the James Caird III replica is on display at the museum, and I loved seeing it, understanding how open, exposed and vulnerable to the ocean those men were in this 23 foot whaleboat! But I wanted to see the real thing.

Meeting the James Caird for the first time, left me a little speechless

Having joined the James Caird Society last year we attended one of their two annual dinners at Dulwich College, Shackleton’s former school, with a reception held around the boat, in the specially designed James Caird Hall. It’s stunning in that setting, stood on rocks from South Georgia.

Restored today, though much of the front of the boat is the original, it was the Norwegian Whalers that wanted to save the James Caird (1916) recognising how special this little boat was to have crossed some of the most inhospitable ocean, through the Drake Passage, in Antarctica’s winter months. And just how unlikely its survival and the men in it, was – against all laws of nature and a feat of human endurance that needs to be remembered.

Penguins From Space: Studying Emperor Penguins by Satellite

Nothing better than a good Penguin talk to make my evening! And no better an expert on finding them than Peter Fretwell. A Geographic Information Officer at the British Antarctic Survey, he is renown for his work using Satellite imagery to spot Emperor Penguin colonies in Antarctica, so they could be studied effectively and that’s what he talked to us about – well the ‘strange brown stain’ he spotted that kicked this all off.

Sharing the fascinating story of how that unfolded starting in 2008, who would have known that Penguin poo would enable us to collect the important data that is now unlocking our understanding of how these creatures are or are not adapting, with the warming of the Antarctica continent.

James Caird Society and What They Do

In a nutshell, its the only institution today that honours Shackleton’s achievements, preserving not just his memory but supporting expeditions and projects that capture the spirit of this remarkable man, his unique leadership skills and outstanding achievements in that heroic age of exploration.

With longstanding leadership of its own through their President the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton and their Chairman, Rear Admiral Nick Lambert with committee members such as Seb Coulthard, Brad Borkan and Stephen Scott-Fawcett – all polar experts in their varying fields – you could tell we were a large group of Shackleton and Polar enthusiasts at our dinner. You don’t have to have been to Antarctica or South Georgia to rub shoulders with this exceptional group, joining it is easy and affordable.

Dulwich College: An imposing and beautiful building. The Great Hall where we dined was magnificent.