(October 27, 1915 - April 9, 1916)
As March approached, the supply of food dwindled, and the men existed on penguins, seals, and their beloved sled dogs. By the end of March, high temperatures in the 30s lows of 21 degrees Fahrenheit was a dangerous range of temperatures for the sleeping bags and clothing of the men which was alternately sodden and frozen stiff. They continued a structured daily life on the floe, slowly moving North towards the open ocean.
Shackleton made two attempts to march to land, some 300 miles to the North, hauling the lifeboats and the food, which had been pulled from the ship. The dogs successfully pulled the sledges loaded with food and supplies but it was left up to the men to haul the three lifeboats. Loaded, the boats weighed approximately one ton each. It proved impossible to haul them over the uneven ice. The boats could not be left behind, as Shackleton regarded them as vital to their survival with the ocean beneath their feet.
Helplessly, the crew waited to see if the floe would carry them closer to land. The second encampment was named "Patience Camp."
On the Move:
In Early March, Orde-Lees reported feeling seasick. The ice was so thin that the swell of the ocean could be felt. On April 9, 1916, The 28 men struck camp and piled into the three lifeboats. The boats set a course for Elephant Island, some 100 miles to the North. It was a terrible journey, battling prevailing wind, cold, seasickness, and mind numbing tiredness. On the seventh day out of Patience Camp, the boats arrived on Elephant Island.
Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) is Australia's most renowned Antarctic scientist and explorer.
In 1911 Mawson organized and commanded the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE 1911-14) and was the sole survivor of a three-man sledging journey that ended tragically. Mawson was knighted in recognition of his leadership of this expedition.
"It is now January, 1916, and still the pack showed no sign of breaking up."