Antarctica – Day 8 – Point Wild

Over lunch we motored from Cape Lookout to Point Wild, with some more amazing whale sightings against incredible backdrops.

Elephant Island - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

Following whales from Cape Lookout to Point Wild at Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands

Point Wild is a narrow spit of land where Ernest Shackleton left 22 of his men from the Endurance under the command of Frank Wild, while he and 5 others sailed off to South Georgia Island to get help.  Wild and the men managed to survive there for 4.5 months heading into winter awaiting their rescue.

Again, the One Ocean crew were keen to manage expectations, almost guaranteeing us that we would not be able to leave the Vavilov, but to be prepared with binoculars to see the monument erected by the Chilean Government to commemorate the Chilean captain who ultimately rescued Shackleton’s men back in 1916.

Point Wild - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

Point Wild. If you look really hard, you can see the monument to the Chilean captain on the narrow spit of land to the left of the triangular rock in the middle. This is as close as you can normally get

But when we got there, the weather was gorgeous and the swell was not too bad.   The Expedition Leader did a test launch of a zodiac and decided it was safe enough – so for the first time ever for all but 2 of the One Ocean crew, and in a very, very rare opportunity for Antarctic visitors, we set out in the zodiacs to explore Point Wild.

Vavilov - Elephant Island - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

Looking back at the Vavilov as we zodiac towards Point Wild

The primary focus was to visit the memorial to the Chilean captain, which turned out to be well guarded by a colony of Chinstrap penguins.

Monument at Point Wild - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

The monument to the Chilean captain that rescued Shackelton’s men from Point Wild. Guarded by Chinstrap Penguins

Over the past 100 years, the beach where Shackleton’s men survived  has essentially disappeared, and it was also high tide, so we couldn’t actually land.  But we certainly spent a great deal of time contemplating how miserable it must have been to be stranded on this small spit of land in front of a massive glacier in the middle of the Antarctic winter, with no guarantees of rescue.  Surprisingly, all 22 men survived this ordeal – I can’t imagine the strength of character required to do that! 

Glacier at Point Wild - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

Massive glacier behind the spit of land on which Shackelton’s men survived

After all, we pretty much had perfect Summer conditions, and we were still cold…

Leaving the monument, we explored a little further afield in the zodiacs (again, all new for most of the crew) including the very impressive glaciers, the really cool geology, and some more Chinstrap penguin colonies.   It really was an incredible experience – again made more special due to the genuine excitement of the crew.   

Point Wild - South Shetland Islands - Antarctica

Exploring Point Wild by zodiac. Amazing conditions!

We’ve really had incredible weather this trip and have been very, very lucky.  Fingers crossed it continues for the Falkland Islands once we have re-crossed the Drake Passage over the next couple of days!

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