Shackleton's Epic Voyage Recreated By Explorers

Jonathan Samuels, Australia Correspondent

An adventurer is leaving Argentina with a crew of five Australian and British explorers to recreate one of the most dangerous and historic journeys ever made on earth.

Tim Jarvis, 46, will re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton's perilous 1916 boat voyage by sailing on an exact replica of the 6.9m (22ft) lifeboat James Caird across 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic.

The replica boat has been named the Alexandra Shackleton after the explorer's granddaughter.

The crew will then traverse the mountainous interior of South Georgia using traditional kit and clothing.

The ocean crossing originally took 17 days with a three-day trip across South Georgia.

But the British explorer believes climate change has changed a few things since Shackleton's day.

"The winds may be a bit stronger," he said.

"The winds could be in our favour but they will also make for bigger seas.

"And a lot of crevasses have less snow than they used to, so the chances of a crevasse fall are greater than when (Shackleton) did it.

"It's going to be a dangerous expedition."

The team will wear identical clothing to that worn by the original crew, and will navigate using the stars and sun. They will even survive on the same rations.

Shackleton set off on the journey from Elephant Island in April 1916 in the small lifeboat after his expedition vessel, with almost 30 men on board, became stuck in ice.

He made it to South Georgia and raised the alarm at a whaling station, and rescuers were eventually able to save the stranded party without any loss of life.

The journey will have many challenges. The replica boat has no keel and capsizes very easily.

"You know, we ran the numbers and said what can we do with an exact replica of Shackleton's boat, without cheating, to try and make this ... less susceptible to capsize than what he had," Mr Jarvis said.

The team have practised capsizing the vessel and trying to right it again, and have attempted to use their supplies, equipment and rocks as ballast instead of just rocks as Shackleton did.

"We ran all the numbers, we fiddled around with rocks and our camera batteries because we are filming this ... and you know what? We came up with exactly the same configuration of how the ballast was loaded as what Shackleton did with rule of thumb," Mr Jarvis said.

"It's amazing to think that (after) a hundred years, with all of our modern thinking, we've ended up with exactly what Shackleton had. But yeah, it's still a very tippy, very unsafe boat," he said.

He is also using the expedition to highlight his environmental message.

"It's ironic that Shackleton was trying to save his men from the Antarctic and we're now trying to save Antarctica from man," he told Sky News.

The 21st century team will have a support vessel following, in case of emergency.

And unlike Shackleton there is a TV and book deal to be had out of the trip.

But the team believes it can be the first to recreate Shackleton's incredible journey - and honour one of the greatest leadership and survival stories of all time.

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