Au contraire, as the man said in the southern ocean when they asked him if he’d dined. (Lord Peter Wimsey, I think, approximately).
I don’t know much about sailing, but one thing I can say. This is nothing like tootling about in the Solent. Hard men are chucking up into buckets on all sides. The horizontal constantly becomes the vertical and then changes its mind yet again. It’s not so much rolling and pitching as …well, twice that. But we are flying along, 30 knot wind on the quarter, just an ordinary day for this part of the world. 176 miles under the bows so far. We left the shelter of Stanley Harbour at 3pm yesterday and it’s now 12 noon Monday so there are high hopes of a 200-mile day. Which is about a quarter of the way to South Georgia.
The more I think of Shackleton and the others doing this in a tiny open boat, the more astounding it seems.
On 1 August 1914 Endurance was sailing down the Thames when Germany declared war on Russia, bringing Britain to the very edge of war. At Margate, Shackleton offered all the men the opportunity to leave the ship and enlist – several of them did. Shackleton himself was in serious doubt that the expedition could continue. He sent a message to the Admiralty offering the ship’s service to the country, but within an hour a telegram came from the First Lord – one Winston S. Churchill. It contained a single word.
Under a three reef sail, a staysail and a patch of jib, our queasy crew proceeds.
If anyone would like to follow our position, go to the Pelagic Australis website and check the tracker function. www.pelagic.co.uk/about/tracker.htm