Friday, July 04, 2008

Shackleton's Endurance

This must be the summer of survival stories:

I just finished my second book of summer break- 'Endurance, the Story of Shackleton's Adventure' .

Sir Ernest Shackleton's third polar expedition came in the wake of the tragic death, in the Antarctic, of Robert Falcon Scott, the famous English explorer, and as Europe was preparing for the First World War. With England having lost both poles to the Norwegians, Shackleton was determined to be the first to cross the Antarctic by foot and claim the last prize in polar exploration for Britain. A week after the war began, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven seamen and scientists set sail on the Endurance, not to be heard from for nearly two years.

It was a particularly cold winter, and the pack ice of the Weddell Sea extended further north than anyone could remember. The Endurance began following leads to navigate through the pack ice, on route to its intended landfall. Just one day's sail from the Antarctic continent, temperatures plummeted and the ship became trapped. Frozen fast for ten months, the Endurance was about to be crushed by ice pressure, forcing Shackleton and his men to abandon ship.

After five months of camping on drifting ice floes, open water appeared, and the men sailed their three lifeboats through stormy seas to a rocky, uninhabited outcropping called Elephant Island. Knowing that his men would never survive on the desolate spot, Shackleton decided to attempt an incredible seventeen-day, 800-mile journey, in freezing hurricane conditions, to the nearest civilization - South Georgia Island. The James Caird lifeboat miraculously landed on the island, having achieved what is now considered one of the greatest boat journeys in history.

Once on land, Shackleton and two of his men trekked across the mountains of South Georgia, finally reaching the island's remote whaling stations where they organized a rescue team, and returned to save all of the men left behind on Elephant Island.

Shackleton's words, written after the expedition, express the enormity and the extremity of the adventure: "Not a life lost, and we have been through Hell."

In comparing Ernest Gordon's survival in the jungles of Thailand and Shackelton's survival in the antarctic region I see many similar themes:

The Will to Not Lose- In both stories, the men refused to lose. It was not allowed at al- thoughts of loss were forbidden.

The Value of Team- In both stories, the men worked as a beautiful team with toughness and good cheer in horrible circumstances.

Skill Needed- Hard Work Required- Great skill of talent was shown in both stories including navigation skill, ingenuity, resourcefulness.

A Base of Faith- The Bible and prayer seems to always show up!

I'm on the story of Stanley and Livingstone now!

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