Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ Expedition, April 15, 1916: “. . . we made for a promising little beach. . . .”

–from the diary of Thomas Orde Lees—

“About 3am the moon rose and some diffused light penetrated. Only twice during the night, and after repeated efforts, did we succeed in keeping matches alight long enough under the tent cloth to see the little compass, and so enable Captain Worsley to verify his course and wind. . . .

“Faint dawn crept up at 5am. The haze suddenly dispersed and to our unspeakable joy we found ourselves confronted by the vast ice cliff of a glacier face. . . So excellent had Wild’s judgment been overnight that without appreciably altering course we made for a promising little beach and by about 10am were rewarded by reaching it and finding that it was in every way suitable for a temporary landing. Not exactly a Utopia, but to us an even more barren place—if such a thing could possibly be conceived—would still have been an earthly paradise.

“We downed sail and pulled with a will. A following sea ‘pooped’ us. . . . The boat became dangerously low in the water. . . . The two boats had arrived at this little bay only an hour ahead of us, but when we came up Sir Ernest and several members were ashore and the blubber stove was fuming away merrily. . . The cook had committed great havoc amongst the seals found on the beach, slaughtering 10 of them with all the primitive savagery of a child killing flies. It was his first opportunity of killing his own larder for himself, and he took it with a vengeance.”

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