Shackleton : The James Caird Society



Latest     Films     Meetings     Exhibitions     Heritage     Antarctic     South Georgia
Irish     Memorabilia     Arts     Travel     International     Expeditions
Archive     Forum     Education     Directory     Feedback



Outline basic plan of James Caird
On the shores of the Straits of Magellan, 7 km north of the Museo Nao Victoria, named after a famous galleon, and Punta Arenas city, a replica of is being built of the James Caird, the lifeboat in which Shackleton effected his heroic journey of 1,300 km from Elephant Island to South Georgia in 1916. Shackleton's voyage - 17 days of torment - was undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and celebrated historic boat journeys of all time.

The idea of constructing a James Caird replica is owed to the energetic impresario Juan Luis Mattassi, who was behind the life size replica of the Nao Victoria, in which Ferdinand Magellan discovered the straits which bear his name to this day.

The reconstruction of Magellan's ship the Nao VictoriaLarge numbers are attracted to the Museo Nao Victoria
Juan Luis Mattassi, who is behind the Chilean plans to construct a new James Caird, demonstrates the blueprints for Magellan's ship the Nao VictoriaThe Nao Victoria, shown on its way to completion, a superb and stylish replica
The Caird, a boat 6.9 metres long and 1.68 wide, and named after Sir James Caird, the Endurance expedition's chief sponsor, had been enlarged by the carpenter to render it more seaworthy for the journey of the six men.

The building of such a boat is, like that of the Nao Victoria, a reflection of the ancient and honoured history of Punta Arenas as the world's most southerly port. The building of the boat forms a key part of the gradual extension of the Museo Nao Victoria and its contents.

Reconstructed scene below the deck of the Nao Victoria replica
The new James Caird, built in Chile's southernmost Magellan region, will include all the features that were on board the original, with lifesize figures to represent the crew. The work will be carried out by professionals from the museum and will take 8 months, using plans obtained from the UK.

The initial proposals for a James Caird replica

Juan Luis Mattassi, creator of the new James Caird Replica, with illustrations of his earlier creation the reconstructed Nao Victorias




logo of the Chilean Antarctic Institute
In the southern city of Punta Arenas, on the East side of its central Plaza Muñoz Garnero, a white block building with a Parisian mansard has long housed the Instituto Antárctico Chileno.

Chile's renowned centre for Antarctic studies, the Instituto Antártico Chileno
But not for much longer, apparently. According to newspaper reports, the regional government of Magallanes, Chile's southernmost province named after Magellan, will soon build a $US 30 million International Antarctic Center.

The centre is intended to house the Instituto’s offices and laboratories, along with a Museum which will chronicle Chile’s Antarctic presence over the years.

Summary of the Library's holdings

Details of INACH-organised Antarctic expeditions

The Chilean Antarctic Institute´s extensive Library specializes in Antarctic matters and has the most comprehensive information available in Chile about the territory of Antarctica.

Commemorative stamp celebrating the first 25 years of the Chilean Antarctic Institute
Recently extensive work has been done on investigating microrganisms and bacteria, underwater life and fossils.

President Sebastián Piñera of Chile visits staff at the base 'Professor Julio Escudero'
It was Chile which finally rescued Sir Ernest Shackleton's 22 men trapped on Elephant Island, mounting an expedition on the Yelcho after a previous attempt by the Emma was unsuccessful.

The INACH teams have been hard at work in Antarctica
Pictures of dramatic ice formations captured by the Institute in Antarctica



On 24th January 2002 the Swedish Post Office issued a pair of stamps to
commemorate the centenary of the first Swedish Antarctic expedition led by Dr Otto Nordenskjöld, which sailed to Antarctica on the whaler Antarctic (commanded by the Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen).

An exhibit showing the very interesting postal history of the expedition opened at the Postal Museum in Stockholm on 20th March 2002.



News of the Ukrainian polar rearch station based at the former British Faraday Station, including details of stamp issues can be found online in an interesting site in English and Ukrainian.

Note that owing to its photographic contents (taken by Roman Bratchyk and Svetlana Krakovskaia, scientific co-leader and meteorologist of the Ukrainian Antarctic Expeditions at the Akademik Vernadsky station in 1995 and 1998), this site can be a slowish to load.



Belgian Antarctic exploration is now over a century old. Details from the Belgian Antarctic Institute website.

Substantial information on Antarctica can be found at the German Federal Environment Agency's Antarctic website.

Italy's Programme for Antarctic Research is known as the Programma Nazionala de Ricerche in Antardide (PNRA). The site contains much information and appends an entertaining photo collection (galleria) of 10 or so slides (immagini).

Significant Scandinavian Antarctic websites include the Norwegian Polar Institute (Norsk Polarinstitutt) and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat website.

An Antarctic lexicon in German. primarily concerned with Ice formations, different Penguin types and seals, can be found at Heiner und Rosamaria Kubny's Zurich-based Swiss site. the pair also lead natural history expeditions to Antarctica. There is also a 'Penguin Shop' selling aficianados purchases online.

Details of the succession of Irish Antarctic Explorers can be found on the website of the Irish South Aris Expedition.



The above pictures of Captain Mackintosh and the Aurora can be found on a leading Antarctic Website published in Belgium, in Flemish/Dutch.

View or read the Aurora and Ross Sea Party story on the Belgian site

'Het laatste continent' - 'the last continent' - includes a lively Antarctic news section detailing the latest activities of exploration and research groups from all countries. It includes, for example, a story about Sir Edmund Hillary making his planned last journey to Antarctica, during early 1907 ('Sir Edmund Hillary bezoekt laatste keer Antarctica'). There is also an extensive and easily navigable Antartic new archive dating back to 2000, with a generous number of useful and interesting stories from each year.
There is a splendid succinct time-chart listing Antarctic events from 1502 (the straits of Magellan), 1578 (the Drake Passage) and 1592 (John Davis's discovery of the Falkland Islands) via the early age of Antarctic exploration (Weddell's discovery of the Weddell Sea, 1823, Sir James Clark Ross's 1841 expedition) via the great age of Antarctic exploration to the present day. There is also a distinct and convenient list of expeditions, and the site map shows a full conspectus of the expeditions covered, with direct links to each.

Explore the Belgian news archive

See the exploration time-chart

See the site map

See the list of expeditions

Naturally the site has a special interest in the ground-breaking expedition of the Belgica under its leader Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery (see below).

A section is devoted to a biography of Shackleton, interesting for several reasons and commendable for giving a handy list of the dates of all Shackleton's siblings: Alice (1872-1938), Amy (1875-1953), Francis Richard (Frank) (1876-1941), Ethel (1878-1935), Eleanor (1879-1960), Clara (1881-1958), Helen (1882-1962), Kathleen (1884-1961) and Gladys (1887-1962). Ernest was born on 15 February 1874.

Ernest Shackleton with four of his sisters
In addition, the story of Shackleton is told at a Netherlands website dealing with travel, sport and adventure, where you can read it in Dutch in connection with the recent film, starring Kenneth Branagh.

Read the latest news, including the Edmund Hillary story

Visit the 'Last Continent' site

View or read the Shackleton story on the Het Laatste Continent website

The 'Nimrod' expedition

The 'Endurance' Expedition



On 25th January 2002 a Swedish contingent sailed to Antarctica on Karlsen Shipping's Polar Star. The purpose of the trip was to visit Snow Hill island, Paulet Island and Hope Bay to commemorate the centenary of the first Swedish Antarctic expedition led by Dr Otto Nordenskjöld, which sailed to Antarctica on the whaler Antarctic under command of the famous Norwegian whaling captain Carl Anton Larsen.

The expedition was the first to plan a winter in Antarctica and set up their winter station on Snow Hill Island on the 12th of February 1902. The following season when the ship returned to pick up the 6 expedition members on Snow Hill Island the ship was crushed by the ice pack and sank. The crew struggled over the pack ice for 16 days and made it to Paulet Island where they had to spend a winter in a primitive stone hut until they were rescued by an Argentine rescue expedition with the corvette Uruguay.

From October 2001 until the beginning of March 2002 an exhibit called "Drama in ice" prepared by Dr Fred Goldberg was displayed at the National Maritime History Museum in Stockholm. The exhibit showed the history of the expedition with numerous authentic photographs, films and objects from the expedition displayed in a full scale model of the winter hut built on Snow Hill Island.

A similar exhibition opened in Buenos Aires on 19th April 2002.



The principal arm of the Australian Government handling Antarctic Research is the Australian Antarctic Division, whose website carries a good deal of general information and updates on current research programmes. Among other current updates, coinciding with the work of the Antarctic Heritage Trust to renovate Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds, is news of the restoration of Sir Douglas Mawson's hut at Cape Denison.



A new Christchurch-based Antarctic links website Canterbury Antarctic Link has gone on line. It is supported by the Christchurch City Council, Banks Peninsula District Council, Christchurch and Canterbury Marketing, and the Canterbury Development Corporation. The site provides a link to a myriad of Christchurch based Antarctic related businesses, tourist attractions and other Antarctic resources and links to other Antarctic websites.



A major exhibition on Shackleton was recently mounted at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and at the Explorers' Hall of the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The exhibition has been seen at the Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square, Salem, Massachusetts, telephone +1 (800) 745 4054.

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, is the only museum in the American North-West to host the exhibition, which ran until 31 December 2001. (See also the two-page Shackleton biography and photo on the museum's website.)

An interview with Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, co-authors of Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer (Viking, 2001), has recently been published on the web.

The article 'Get Ready for Shackleton Mania' by American journalist Stephanie Capparell, published in the Wall Street Journal prior to the opening of the New York Exhibition, can be read online.



New Zealand Antarctic Philately reported the departure from Shanghai on 15th November 2001 of the 18th Chinese National Antarctic expedition aboard the vessel Xue Long, which arrived in Lyttelton (Christchurch) on 3rd December 2001.

After a short stay Xue Long sailed for the Antarctic Peninsula and was expected at the Great Wall Station on 20 December and then at Zhong Shan Station on 15 January, arriving back in Shanghai on 25 February after making a call into Perth on its way home, having completed a circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent.



Readers from Norway, a country with which Shackleton had much contact, as a lecturer, as the purchaser (in Stavanger) of the ship he rechristened Endurance, as guest and friend of the Norwegian whaling stations at Husvik, Stromness and Grytviken in South Georgia, and in making his first desperate recue bid following his arrival in Stromness in May 1916, can find an interesting article on Shackleton in Norwegian.



Shackleton's indebtedness to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, in life and in death alike, is well-documented, and Spanish speaking Shackleton enthusiasts may be interested in the following :



<<       Society       Forum       History       News       Publications       Membership       >>