Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, April 12, 1916: “I found to my horror that instead of having approached Elephant Island. . . .”

–from Frank Worsley’s account “Endurance”—

“Conditions were changing so continually that we had not yet finally decided upon our destination. Since we had started in the boats it had been impossible to get a ‘sight’ of the sun; but on the third day luckily I succeeded in doing so. Just before that Shackleton had asked me what distance, according to my dead reckoning, we had made towards Elephant Island, which he contemplated as a landing place. I had answered, ‘About thirty miles.’ When, however, I worked out my observations, I found to my horror that instead of having approached Elephant Island by thirty miles, we were thirty miles farther away than when we had started! This was due to a tremendously strong east-running current pouring out of the Bransfield Straits and setting us back.

“Shackleton ran his boat [the ‘Caird’] alongside mine [the ‘Dudley Docker’] and asked me what I made the position. When I told him, he did not repeat it to the men, but merely said we had not done so well as we had expected. . . .

“Owing to the news that I had given him Shackleton decided to make for the northern point of the Antarctic continent. We sailed on this course for some hours, and then found ourselves barred by lines of heavy pack-ice with the sea freezing all round us. The ‘Dudley Docker’ towed the other two boats all night to prevent their bumping against one another.”

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