Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party–May 6, 1915: “There was no sign of the ship. . .”

–from R. W. Richards’ account–

“The breakaway from the shore came unexpectedly and suddenly on 6 May. During the afternoon the wind began to freshen, and by midnight a moderate blizzard was blowing. It was my turn to take the midnight and 4 am readings. However, Spencer-Smith was staying up and he offered to take the midnight ones and I gladly agreed.

“It was moonlight when I left the hut at 4 a.m and a moderate blizzard was blowing, with drifting show up to a height of perhaps 50 ft. Automatically I looked seaward and was startled at not being able to see the top-masts of the ship which should have been visible above the low drift. I walked down to the shore line and found all hawsers loose and the cable bent back twice sharply. There was no sign of the ship and what little could be seen was open water.

“I roused my three companions who were naturally very concerned, but we agreed that, given a day or two with reasonable weather, we might well expect to see her back again at her place off the hut.”

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