Tom Sharpe continues his journey in the footsteps of Captain Scott, on the 100th anniversary of Scott’s journey to the South Pole…
Friday 18 November
As the ice charts showed, we reached the edge of the pack ice on schedule, open pack mainly of first year ice that was easy to move through, so we pushed on due south, making good progress. We crossed the Antarctic Circle yesterday morning, picking our way through open leads amongst heavier pack and occasionally hitting some thicker floes. When that happens we reverse and steam full ahead into the ice, forcing our way through. Scott on his wooden-hulled Terra Nova could not have had it this easy.
With the heavier pack came our first Emperor penguins, lone individuals in this immense frozen seascape. We reached an area of open water, a polynya, late last night and maintained a speed of 15 knots which took us to 70oS by this morning.
But now the pack has thickened and we’re in multi-year sea ice over a metre thick. Our speed slowed to less than 5 knots and now we’re stopped. We’re between two thick floes under pressure and our wake has closed behind us.
With all engines on full power, we’re not budging. We’re stuck. The floes are probably under pressure from tidal currents, so we’re going to wait for five or six hours to see if the tides change in our favour. In the meantime, we’re trying not to think of the fate of Shackleton’s ship, Endurance.