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Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance
Questions and Responses #4
Posted November 5, 1999
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Do you have doctors along?

Response from Dr. Steve Santora:
Dear Sarra,
I am in charge of the health and safety of the expedition members. Thus far we have had no major injuries or illness. I have had to stitch a laceration of the hand, start a few IV's for dehydration from seasickness, and treat two cases of food poisoning that were obtained in Uruguay. During the day I work with the field team and am present with a medical kit when we are filming ashore. I evaluate all prospective situations for safety and make recommendations to the plan to avoid dangerous situations or injuries. Other than medical issues, I am having a grand time. Thank you for your interest.

Do you have scripts for the movie?

Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Barbara,
The two films we are making are both documentaries, but we still have to plan very carefully. We're working with an early version of each script called a treatment, which specifies the kind of film footage we'll need to accompany the information and ideas we hope to convey in each segment, or sequence, of the film. Shooting in the Antarctic is difficult, so we needed to organize a detailed list of what to film each day in advance. See Kingdom of Blizzards, and you'll get the picture.

Dear Explorer,
Where did you go to college? Are you having fun, or is it all work?

Loudenslager School
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Kevin,
I went to Springboro High School in Springboro, Ohio, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This trip is a lot of work, but it's really fun for me. I've been interested in polar exploration for about 15 years, and I'm very excited to see these places that I've read about for so long.

To Mr. Stoke.
I wonder how you can do all your work and not get seasick?

Jeffrey Reiner
Los Angeles, CA
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Jeffrey,
Steve's done very well—he's a natural seaman—and he's much luckier than a number of crew members aboard. The pitching and rolling of the ship upset more than a few people's equilibrium, particularly once we entered the unpredictable Southern Ocean. Since we all have to work every day, we don't have time to be sick. Several people, including yours truly, have taken medications prescribed by their doctors to prevent seasickness. We've also heard good things about ginger as a natural cure, so we're consuming a lot of ginger capsules, candied ginger, and ginger ale!

Without the use of sledge dogs, how will you travel once you arrive? Do you have freshwater available? Thank you.

Frances Blanchard
New Hill, N.C
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Frances,
When on land, we're travelling on foot, and that means a lot of climbing. Fortunately, it's not technical climbing, because we're not going on the glaciers. So it's manageable for most of the crew. We have a helicopter here, aboard our ship the Laurel, and in addition to filming aerials, it enables us to transport people to difficult locations sometimes. We do have freshwater on board. Water was loaded in Montevideo and we have desalinization capability, too. When we were in Grytviken last week, we loaded tons of additional water, and we're now bathing with and drinking the purest glacier water imaginable.

Read wide-eyed your dispatch of the Stromness adventure. Didn't really comprehend the risks and hazards of this journey prior to departure. What a rush!!! Hang on tight, relish the wild ride, and return safely.
Best Wishes.

Salt Lake City, UT

Hi there,
I'm reading South at the moment and am thoroughly enthralled by the exploits of the Endurance expedition. I wish you all the best in your journey and can only hope that I could be there experiencing it with you. Take care.


I just finished reading Endurance - it was magnificent. I can't believe how they stayed alive, in body and in spirit. I am looking forward to seeing the NOVA production to compare the images that I have in my mind with the real thing. Excellent, excellent, excellent. I can't wait.

Cori Spencer
Cal Poly Pomona
Pomona, CA

I expect you may know this but I am very proud as an Irish man of the exploits of the many Irish men on this expedition. However on Tom Crean, who I'm most taken by, he actually retired to a quiet life after his exploits and opened a pub in Anascaul in County Kerry in Ireland, funnily enough (and not unexpectedly I suppose) called "The South Pole Inn."

Peter Jordan
Fort Lauderdale, FL

We are so excited about this site! We have all the books and maps and pictures from the AMNH (American Museum of Natural History) exhibit and I was just ready to start creating all the activities myself to begin a huge unit with academically talented students in grades 1-5 when I found your site through the PBS organization. I am so thrilled to have some back up for what I am doing. BTW, there is also a high school English class in Homer, NY 13077, whose teacher, Bill Allan, has written a play based on the Endurance expedition that the school is performing this month. (Coincidentally, I went to Homer High School many years ago.) The play is called "The White Road."

Thank you again for this wonderful resource—we'll be in touch!

Mary Salai
Indian Landing Elementary School
Penfield, NY

Your Web site is very well done. It is easy to navigate and is fun and exciting to learn about the original expedition and the comparative data (the pictures are great) about the current voyage. It still boggles my mind to be able to communicate with a group that is half a world away, as they experience their adventure. It is especially meaningful since we know Dr. Steve Santora, who performed surgery on my daughter before he left. They're in our thoughts and prayers.

All of your effort to share this historical event with us is very much appreciated.

Vicki Arcado
Salt Lake City, UT

I recently read Endurance by Alfred Lansing...GREAT BOOK!! My husband is currently reading it and we are SO EXCITED to discover your journey, too! Can't wait for the IMAX film to come out and we are looking forward to you updates...Praying for wisdom and safety as you travel! Enjoy your adventure!

(name withheld by request)

The Shackleton adventure is truly one of the most inspirational stories of all time. This man truly had courage. Congratulations on reliving it for all of us.

Anthony Higgins
Ft. Smith, AR

Thank you for the show that you are planning to air regarding the Antarctic exploits of Shackleton. I first read about his story during my sophomore year in high school back in 70-71 and he has been one of my heroes ever since. The rest of the world will finally catch up with what I have been boasting about for thirty years: one of the greatest stories of survival and sheer will-power ever. This is not a made-up Hollywood story, this was the real thing! Many thanks once again!

Gilbert Alcorta
San Antonio, TX

Dear NOVA team,
Hi, I'm a fith grader at Buckman Elementary School in Portland, OR. I'm very interested in knowing the stats of your fabulous ship and the stats of the Endurance.

Sincerely, your follower,

Buckman Elementary School
Portland Oregon
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Ryan,
Our principal expedition ship, the Akademik Shuleykin, is 236 feet in length, with a beam of 42 feet and draft of 15 feet. It is of Russian registry, built in Finland. It weighs 1,754 tons, and it's ice-strengthened, meaning it can navigate polar seas. However, it can't break solid pack ice or venture into pressure ice; that would take an icebreaker, like the modern HMS Endurance. Cruising speed is nine knots and maximum speed is 12.5 knots. For more about the Shuleykin, the Endurance, and the HMS Endurance, see The Roaring Fortiesand Question of the Day answer on November 1.

I too have read Endurance by Alfred Lansing and am thrilled to follow your voyage. I am intrigued by the couple who man the museum on the island! Who are they maintaining it for and who visits it? What are their living conditions and what things are in the museum?

Look forward to keeping up with your journey.

Linda Goldman
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Linda,
Tim and Pauline Carr first became enchanted with the Antarctic on a sailing trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, where they sailed in extremely difficult conditions with pack ice and storms. They visited South Georgia on the same trip and loved it. They have been curators of the South Georgia Whaling Museum for seven years. The museum houses exhibitry and artifacts related to whaling on South Georgia, natural history, and Shackleton's expedition. Antarctic cruise ships stop in Grytviken, where the Carrs live aboard their sailboat, the Curlew..Their book, Antarctic Oasis, is a beautifully photographed and written portrait of the island. There is a British Army garrison at nearby King Edward Point, which houses a small military contingent, but Tim and Pauline are the island's only permanent residents.

I have read the Endurance books by Alfred Lansing and Caroline Alexander. I am wondering if you will be filming on any ice floes and if so how you can be sure they will not crack or separate? Also how will you light such scenes? The Endurance story is amazing, and I'm enjoying all the information on your Web site. Thanks.

Annie Cole
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Annie,
Up until last month, the pack ice extended as high as Elephant Island (see Expedition Maps). As austral spring advances, the pack recedes. In order to film it, we'll be travelling south into the Weddell Sea in a week or so. We'll film near the tip of the Peninsula. You're very right about the danger of being on the ice floes—more than once, Shackleton's men were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got dunked. In order to avoid such problems, we're working with a team of Antarctic consultants called Poles Apart. Collectively, they have decades of experience working in the Antarctic as guides and scientists. They help us make all of our decisions about shooting and accompany us at all times. We will likely not shoot on loose pack ice, but carefully selected "fast" ice, which is secured rather than floating. We're doing all of our shooting with available light.

I am so excited to find this Web site and have the opportunity to be an active observer of this expedition. I have so many questions for the team, but most of all I want to wish you all luck, good health and good weather. I guess my main question is how long do you expect your expedition take? Also, what are the weather conditions like there now? What kind of training did the crew go through to prepare for this adventure? In my excitement I guess my questions are a bit overwhelming. I would really appreciate any communication from you when you have time. I'll be there with you in spirit every day.

I look forward to following your adventures and being able to learn as you go. Please take care of yourselves, be careful, and know that you carry our admiration and and support with you every step of the way.

God Speed!

Nancy Monicke
Tigerton, WI
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Nancy,
Thank you so much for your best wishes! It means a lot to us. We left Montevideo on October 20 and expect to arrive back in Ushuaia on November 24. In between, we're travelling to South Georgia Island, south to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and Elephant Island. We all took survival training before departure (See Survival Training), to prepare for ship evacuation and helicopter ditching in this near-freezing water, among other issues. In addition, we're working with a team of Antarctic experts called Poles Apart, who have had considerable experience as scientists and guides in the Antarctic. They make sure that our filming is health- and safety-conscious.

I am captivated by this sight and your adventure. It is such a joy to have such wonderful interactive lessons to teach. I have a class of fifth graders, and we are wondering how to understand knots. In your daily dispatches, the wind is always mentioned in knots and we would like to understand that unit of measurement.

Good luck with your journey. We are finding ourselves, as I am sure people all over the world are, glued to our computers.

Safe home...

Barbara Luscher
5th grade teacher
Buckman Magnet School for the Arts
Portland, OR
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Barbara,
The nautical measure of wind speed is knots. You can easily convert it to miles per hour, if it makes more sense, by dividing knots by 1.15.

Will there be any night spent on the ice floes by the crew? I'm very excited to see you all take on this expedition. Although it's not as strenuous as it was for those of the Endurance, I feel many unanswered questions may be captured.

Best of luck to your ship and all your crew!

Trever Seely
Salt Lake City, UT
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear Trever,
No, I'm afraid we won't be camping on the ice floes like the Endurance crew; the floes are too unstable and dangerous. There are stories of the crew hearing a splash in the middle of the night and realizing the floe had split under a tent and dropped its sleeping occupant into the water. Also, animals like leopard seals and killer whales nose around the floe edge looking for a meal, and they wouldn't turn their noses up at us, by all accounts. We will be filming in the pack of the Weddell Sea from boats, however.

Hi, my name Is T.J., and I am 11 years old. I'm really interested in Shackleton's expedition. I was just wondering how long it took you to prepare for this trip? I was wondering if any of you expect to find any remnants of Shackleton's ship?

Bainbridge Island, WA
Response from Kelly Tyler:
Dear T.J.,
We've actually been planning these film projects since November 1998. Director George Butler and writer Caroline Alexander began research even earlier, as Alexander was writing her book, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition..We began preparing for shooting—hiring crew, testing equipment, chartering ships—back in July. Around the same time, we started work on the NOVA Online Adventure. For more on the logistics of our trip, check out The James Caird Embarks.

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