South America / Antarctica travel blog

Elephant Island

Iceberg off Coast of Elephant Island

The fog lifts a bit

We got up early this morning in hopes of being blessed with good light and icebergs on our approach to Elephant Island. Off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, Elephant Island is part of the Shetland Island group. It is most famous as the place where Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 28 sought refuge in 1916, when their ship Endurance was lost, trapped in Weddell Sea ice.

Because there was no chance of rescue by any passing ships, Shackleton decided to try and make his way to a remote whaling station on South Georgia Island, over 800 miles away. Shackleton left his second in command, Frank Wild, in charge of 21 other men and sailed away from Elephant Island with five volunteers in the open lifeboat James Caird on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916.

In one of the most incredible feats in the history of sailing and navigation, Shackleton arrived at South Georgia almost two weeks later. Four and a half months after he left, Shackleton returned in a tug boat he borrowed in Punta Arenas, Chile, to break through the ice and rescue his remaining crew.

Getting back to our own voyage,however, looking out the dining room window at breakfast this morning we saw large chunks of ice floating in the water.

Once out on deck, we observed that the skies were overcast and we were blanketed in a light fog. As we approached Elephant Island, the icy wind nipped at us and we could imagine what it must have been like for Shackleton and his crew. But it was beautiful just the same.

I snapped pictures like there was no tomorrow, but had some difficulty getting my camera to focus properly in the fog. Zooming in with the telephoto lens exacerbated the visibility problem, making it look foggier than it really was. Even so, it was gorgeous. Every now and then, we were blessed with a small patch of blue sky, giving us a glimpse of the beauty that was yet to unfold before us.

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