Elephant Island. 28th December 2017

Ernest Shackleton and his 28 man crew landed in 1916 on Elephant Island after 15 months trapped on drifting ice floes, following the loss of their ship Endurance which was crushed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea. After a seven day journey in small open boats, they initially took shelter in a cave at Wild Point, but eventually lived underneath two upturned boats for four and a half months with little hope of rescue.

In the meantime, Shackleton had decided to try to sail a 22 foot open boat with five other men on an 800 mile voyage to seek help in South Georgia, where he knew there were several whaling stations, arriving 16 days later. But it took another four months to find a ship, after three failed attempts, to cross the dangerous Drake Passage in the depth of winter. At last, a Chilean Navy Captain, Luis Pardo, sailed the Yelcho, a steam tug, with Shackleton aboard, to rescue all the men who had set out on the original expedition nearly two years earlier.

We arrived at Elephant Island in foggy weather with poor visibility, dodging huge icebergs in the mist. Arriving at Wild Point, the Captain went about and astern into the entrance of the Bay. The approaches can be seen to be dangerous, and the obstacles which the men who made land at Wild Point 100 years ago had to encounter are very evident. Today, a bust has been erected by the Chilean Government to honour Luis Pardo, which can just be seen on the beech.

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