1-7 October, 1921

Saturday 1 October, 1921

With a gale getting up, Quest lays up with the engines stopped, but they are soon restarted to better ride the storm. Lysaght writes in his diary: “The seas were now mountainous and the biggest I had ever seen in either large or small vessels. The ship was riding them like a duck… In the circumstances we were fairly snug. ..At 10.30am the gale increased to Force 10 (hurricane). .. It was a grand sight, seeing the huge waves running away to leeward, a seething mass of white. … Wilkins was fortunate in being able to get a short film of the gale at its worst. …As the day advanced, so the wind gradually dropped.. Owing to the unsatisfactory state of the engines it was now decided to make to Lisbon. ….Both the Boss and Worsley said they had never seen such a big sea get up in so short a time or go down so quickly as the wind lessened.”

Sunday 2 October, 1921

Quest makes slow going in rough seas and into a strong headwind. At 6pm they pick up the light of Belingas lighthouse.  Shackleton transmits: “The Quest is 60 miles north-west of Cape Roca. Progress slow against four days of strong southerly winds and south-west gales. Ship lively in high seas; those not sick, lovely. Cheerio.”

Monday 3 October, 1921

The knocking of the engines is getting worse and worse. The going is extremely slow. Just before nightfall Quest reaches the mouth of the Tagus and anchors in calmer water off Cascais. The Lisbon pilot comes aboard but it is decided not to move further until the morning.

Shackleton and the Lisbon pilot

Tuesday 4 October, 1921

At 1 am Quest starts up the river Tagus, guided by the pilot.  At daybreak they are met by a tug sent by Rawes, the Lloyds agent in Lisbon. The tug tows Quest into Lisbon, where they drop anchor outside the harbour at 10.30 am. In late afternoon they are towed into the Alcantara docks.

Quest and the tug in the Tagus

Shackleton: “Entered here after six days’ battling against heavy southerly winds and strong south-west gale in order to make good the defect developed in the engines and to set up the rigging which has been strained in the gale.

Shackleton heads ashore as Quest ties up at Lisbon

Sir Ernest Shackleton goes ashore and visits the British Legation. Guards are requested to keep visitors off Quest.

In the evening, in Quest’s wardroom, Bee Mason presents a cinema show of footage taken by Wilkins in the Bay of Biscay on October 1st. Wilkins goes ashore alone to look around.

Wednesday 5 October, 1921

Republic Day in Portugal, a national holiday. Some of the crew go to a bullfight.

The British colony in Lisbon gives “an entertainment” in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

In Cape Town, Prof Goddard of Stellenbosch University, who has been nominated to join the expedition when it arrives there, lectures on the value of understanding Antarctic weather and its relevance for agriculture in the whole of the southern hemisphere. The findings might lead to the establishment of meteorological stations on Bouvet Island and Macquarie Island, and a coordinated weather forecasting progamme. The last drought in South Africa had cost £16 million (about £800m in 2021).

Thursday 6 October, 1921

In the evening, Bee Mason presents a cinema show in Quest’s wardroom of footage taken by Wilkins in the Bay of Biscay on October 1st. 

Friday 7 October, 1921

Shackleton writes: “The Quest leaves on Monday. I regret that Scout Mooney has been continuously sick and seasick, but he is always willing. I am taking him as far as Madeira, hoping that he will enjoy better health. But doctors consider he is not strong enough for the voyage. The tug which was sent to our assistance off the Portuguese coast returned, unable to face the heavy seas, and we came in under our own steam.