September 1914: “Endurance” on her way south

–from “Hold Fast: Tom Crean with Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition 1913-1916” by David Hirzel–

“Restored and replenished, the Endurance left the fragrant shores of Madeira for the open ocean. Warm trade winds hustled her along beneath fleecy clouds awash in a blue sky and sunsets so dazzling they had no equal but the still more glorious sunrises to follow. Schools of porpoise coursed along beneath the bows of the hurrying ship; shoals of flying fish leapt into the air in silver waves streaking inches over the water. Closer to the equator in the doldrums the engines were put to good use. Endurance had a schedule to keep, whether or not a favoring breeze came to her aid: stop in Buenos Aires, make a jaunt across the South Atlantic, depart South Georgia no later than the beginning of December.

“During the day, the ship rings with the sound of saws and hammers nailing up kennels for the dogs to be boarded in South America. The night watches are the best, when everyone not on duty is snug in his berth below. The steady thrum of the engines sings a soft baritone to the glittering stars. Crean at the helm keeps a watchful eye on them and the red glow of the compass rose. The only other sounds are the low voices of the black gang on deck as Stephenson and Holness lift the ash buckets to the rail, and the sudsy hiss of the hot coals hitting the water. There will be no need to trim sail this night. For the watch on duty, it is a time for quiet, confidential talk. Crean and Cheatham sailed together before in the Terra Nova, and can speak now with the ease of old shipmates.”

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