Sunday, 10 October 2010

James Caird

For the past couple of years my early Sunday morning ritual has been something like this: wake up, drag daughters off to swimming lessons and then grab 30 minutes or so in the gym while they're perfecting their strokes. The swimming pool is part of Dulwich College, south London, so there is one final part of the ritual - a glance at James Caird, one of the three lifeboats from the Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship.

Yes, the final berth for the boat that Shackleton and five companions sailed 800 nautical miles across the South Atlantic to seek rescue for his ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16, is small gallery in a boys school. Dulwich College is the explorer's alma mater and after Norwegian whalers had rescued the boat from South Georgia, it made it back to Britain in 1919, was displayed for a while before being delivered to the college in 1922. It was moved during the middle part of the 20th Century but was finally returned to Dulwich in 1986. This led to the formation of the James Caird Society.

The display, consisting of the boat, plus a couple of sledges, a stuffed Emperor penquin and an old sail is well worth a visit, if only to marvel at how this tiny vessel survived such an audacious voyage.

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