In 1916 Ernest Shackleton managed to lead members of his crew against all odds in what has remained one of the most remarkable survival epics. It was an extraordinary 700-mile boat journey followed by a mountaineering feat across South Georgia in winter, which made possible the rescue of the rest of his crew from Elephant Island.
German explorer Arved Fuchs, who has been studying the possibility of re-enacting Shackleton’s journey for more than 12 years, is leading the expedition “Shackleton 2000.” The four-person team will be the first to start such a reenactment from the pack ice in the Weddell Sea and go via Elephant Island (other re-enactments have started from Elephant Island) and the first to include a crossing of South Georgia.
Fuchs was motivated to organize the event after crossing Antarctica on skis during an expedition with Reinhold Messner. It is experiences aboard his own wooden Danish sailing vessel, Dagmar Aaen, in icy waters around the world that have led him to “feel confident to manage this challenge.”
A new 20-foot carvel-planked craft, James Caird II, was built by Skips & Badebyggerie in Denmark. The lines of the new vessel have been taken off the original rescue boat, which survived, just like her crew. James Caird II was shipped out in a container with Maersk Lines to Buenos Aires and then transferred to another vessel to reach Ushaia in time for the arrival of Fuchs and his three crew in early January (Shackleton made the journey with five others). There they joined the Hapag-Lloyd passenger vessel Hanseatic, which specializes in cruising Antarctica. Along with the James Caird II, they were expected to proceed to the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea to start their voyage in mid-January. The ship is due to rendezvous with them again at South Georgia.
The plan is to carry out traditional navigation as far possible, using equipment available in Shackleton’s day. Modern safety equipment will also be carried on board.