28 – 31 December, 1921

Wednesday 28 December, 1921

At 07.20, still in atrocious conditions, Quest heaves to and all hands take in the sail. Dell gets a foot caught in a rope and suffers a nasty injury. Oil bags are deployed to calm the water. Green heroically keeps serving food despite atrocious conditions, assisted by Naisbitt.

Thursday 29 December, 1921

The wind subsides and the seas begin to calm. Shackleton is quoted as saying it was the worst storm he had ever known.

Kerr finds a leak in the engines’ boiler, which cannot be inspected fully until they reach South Georgia. They are forced to carry on at reduced steam pressure.

Shackleton is depressed and irritable. Naisbitt serves macaroni cheese he has himself made, but Shackleton takes it into the galley and throws the plateful into the scupper, asking “Green, where is this from?

On South Georgia, Wilkins is suffering from apparent food poisoning but manages to get film and photographs of penguins with chicks.

Friday 30 December, 1921

In the evening, the winds pick up again, though not as fierce as the previous storm. But by evening, Shackleton gives the order to heave to again. Once again the deck-top living quarters are flooded. Shackleton makes up a bed on a bench in the wardroom as his bunk is soaked.

Wilkins, meanwhile, collects more birds including five more grey headed mollymauks and 2 gentoo penguins before packing up and leaving Elsa Bay and boarding the Southern Breeze.

Saturday 31 December, 1921

At 4am, Quest’s engines are stopped to clean the fires.

Macklin and Wild are concerned about Shackleton being tired and under great strain. Shackleton says to Macklin “If this crack in the furnace proves serious I may have to abandon the expedition – my reputation will stand it – but I am not beaten; John Rowett understands me, and will trust me to make the best of things, even if I have to get a new ship”.

Wilkins makes his way back from the north of the island, in the Southern Breeze, arriving at Prince Olav Station in time to join New Year’s Eve festivities.