Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, October 14-15, 1915: “. . .but the grip became tighter and more relentless. . .”

–from Frank Hurley’s account “Shackleton’s Argonauts”—

“For ten weeks the ship was in continual danger, but it was not until early October that the its position became desperate. On 14 October the ice was in convulsions ahead of the ship, and a splitting crash suddenly caused all hands to rush up on deck, where we found that a crack had opened from the lead ahead, and had passed along our starboard side to another crack that had opened aft. The ship was free for the first time in nine months. At midnight she drifted from her cradle and fell astern, leaving her form moulded in the splintered floe. The spanker was hoisted, and we actually sailed one hundred yards.

“We were now in a narrow lead, double the width of the ship’s beam, but blocked immediately ahead. Our position caused the gravest anxiety as the floes came gradually together. With silent, irresistible force, they nipped the ship in their terrific jaws. She creaked, shivered and protested in agony, but the grip became tighter and more relentless, until, just when we expected to see her sides cave in, she slowly began to rise above the ice. At this critical juncture the pressure fortunately ceased—as suddenly as if an arresting hand had been placed upon the controlling lever of some gigantic machine.

“We were balanced on the top of a pressure-ridge, and in imminent peril of toppling over on our beam-ends. For several hours we remained thus, and then the floes gradually drew apart and we resumed a normal position.”


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