iced in

“The 26th dawned clear, save for gentle, fleecy clouds, and full of sunshine that glinted with sparkling beauty off the ice. With the roar of pressure in his ears, Shackleton was struck by the surreal incongruity between the serene beauty of the day and the death throes of his ship. From the bridge, he had seen how the pressure was actually bending her like a bow, and it seemed that she was gasping to draw breath. She was leaking badly again, and the exhausted men worked the pumps in shifts – fifteen minutes on, fifteen minutes off – half asleep on their feet.

The Endurance had quieted, but that evening an unsettling incident occurred while several sailors were on deck. A band of eight emperor penguins solemnly approached. Intently regarding the ship for some moments, they threw back their heads and emitted an eerie, soulful cry.”

(It is interesting that for what he’d named “The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition” Shackleton chose a ship designed and built in Norway. Launched in 1912 as Polaris, the 144-foot three-masted barque was originally intended for luxury tourism in the Arctic. It took 10 months for the Antarctic ice to trap, crush and eventually sink Endurance.)

Caroline Alexander – The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (1998)