Ross Sea Expedition: Furthest South
During the Ross Sea Expedition, we cruised the length of the Ross Ice Shelf, en route to the Bay of Whales. The ice shelf is over 300 nautical miles long and it was a full day’s sailing through sunshine, fog, calm, wind, and a good chance to catch up after the hectic days before.
Finally, after a day of cruising, we woke as the ship rounded the corner and entered the Bay of Whales, where Amundsen arrived on the Fram to launch his bid for the Pole. Early on we sailed over the site of Framheim (Amundsen’s camp) as the ice had retreated well back. Ahead of us, a beautiful deep blue iceberg, with the requisite Adelie penguins on it rocked slowly in the breeze. We continued on into the Bay, passing a small group of Emperor and Adelie penguins huddled together as they molted on the edge of the ice shelf. But the real prize lay ahead – the furthest south any vessel has navigated. The current record holder is a small Polish yacht, called Selma, who achieved a furthest south of 78 degrees, 43.936 minutes in February 2015. The challenge was clear and Captain Dag was primed and ready.
The record took some setting up: the small fast boat was launched to find the furthest south point and checked the ice edge to ensure that no ice spurs were likely to endanger the vessel. Then the moment came… a small posse of the senior officers (clearly Norwegian as they were only in their shirt sleeves) clutching GPS’s stood at the bow as Captain Dag Saevik maneuvered the vessel toward the southernmost point of the ice shelf. Everyone held their breath as he cautiously approached the ice, and we all watched the GPS as the numbers rolled steadily south… Eventually, we crept past the furthest south and then continued to creep further until…
A loud cheer went up on the bridge as the numbers were confirmed and a huge round of applause for Captain Dag. Needless to say, with The World’s own inimitable style, there followed a wee celebration in the plaza with fizz and cake.