Saturday, 31 August 2013

Antarctic Boat's Next Journey

Back in 1993/94 Trevor Potts, who runs the Ardnamurchan Campsite, sailed from Elephant Island in the Antarctic to follow Ernest Shackelton's epic 800-mile voyage to South Georgia.  Trevor raised the money for the boat he and his three companions used, which he called the Sir Ernest Shackleton.  She is now promised to the Scott Polar Research Institute's Polar Museum in Cambridge, so Trevor is carrying out some maintenance before she leaves.

The trailer on which she has spent recent winters had collapsed under her, so when worked started yesterday afternoon the first job was to remove it and position the boat so she was easily accessible.  Stage one was for Hughie MacLachlan operating a JCB to lift her while Trevor used his van to pull out the old trailer.  Looking at it, it's a miracle the boat has stayed upright.

While Hughie held the boat in position, Rob Bolton set about removing the two keels which Trevor had fitted when the Sir Ernest Shackleton was operating in local waters.

These both gave her better handling and enabled her to sit upright on the mud at low tide.

A plank, supported on four sets of breezeblocks, was then placed under the length of her keel, and the boat lowered so she rested on it.  Four pinewood props were then placed to hold her upright before the strops were removed.

 Hughie's only problem then was getting the JCB out without knocking the boat over.

With the boat stable, The Diary had the privilege of being invited on board.  Trevor and his three companions crossed some of the wildest waters of the world using only sails and oars. They carried no engine, life raft, or emergency radio beacon, and they had no escort craft.

This is a view into the accommodation area. The circular hole in the floor is where the gas stove was fitted. It's certainly an extremely confined space in which four people had to survive during the fourteen days the voyage took them, particularly as they encountered four full gales, one of which was a severe storm force 10.

It's hoped to have the Sir Ernest Shackleton on her way to Cambridge in the new year.


  1. Great to see the Sir Ernest Shackleton being prepared for it's next voyage. Many thanks to all those working on the restoration. I had the privilege of sailing with Captain Potts on the original journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia and remember the four gales well in the winter of 93/94.
    Robert Egelstaff
    Roch, Pembrokeshire

  2. It is great to see progress at last on the Shackleton Boat Project (SBP) (2014). The boat AND the 'Wake' expedition (1993/4) itself deserve full recognition. This is one of my main objectives in overseeing the little boat's next journey to Cambridge in summer 2014. It is, also, wonderful to know I have the support of Trevor Potts, Robert Egelstaff and Vic Brown - three members of the original team who bravely followed Shackleton's extraordinary crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia WITHOUT a safety boat but WITH the skill of experienced mariners.
    Stephen Scott-Fawcett
    Co-ordinator (SPRI)
    SCB (2014)

  3. We are really looking forward to receiving the Sir Ernest Shackleton here at the Polar Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge in 2014.
    Bridget Cusack
    Acting Museum Development Coordinator

  4. Hi Trevor,

    Trust you're keeping well, it has been over a year since we last met in Portland during the launch of the 'Alexandra Shackleton'. You assistance during those early sea trial days were invaluable. I've been following your project with great interest and I just wanted to wish you the very best of luck, I look forward to seeing the 'Sir Ernest Shackleton' at SPRI in the future. If there is anything I can do to assist your project in return, please ask. Best wishes, Seb.