9-21 November, 1921

After the visit to St Paul’s Rocks on Tuesday 8 November, instead of heading to Cape Town as originally planned, Quest is now en route to Rio de Janeiro for further repairs. The engines are playing up again. Added to this, the top mast is giving concern, yielding excessively to the gaff rig.

In his cramped laboratory and darkroom in Quest’s forecastle, Wilkins works hard to prepare and preserve all the specimens he has collected. He also develops the photographs and film he has taken, including that at St Paul’s Rocks. He is not happy with much of the material, with both shooting and developing posing difficulties in the hot and wet conditions, and on a moving ship.

Thursday 10 November, 1921

Wild notes in the Deck Log: “Booby flying and several flying fish”

Sunday 13 November, 1921

Engines stopped 07.23-07.27. Rolling heavily. Many storm petrels

Wednesday 16 November, 1921

John Rowett writes to Hugh Robert Mill:

Dear Dr Mill,

Many thanks for your letter.  I quite agree what you wrote about Shackleton.  He is evidently thinking over the position as he is so late.

I received a cable from him today, saying that they are all well and have carried out the work at St Paul’s Rocks.

He asks that the memos of Enderby Land and Hatfield’s memo on the Aurora Islands shall be sent to him at Rio. I cannot find either of these papers amongst his papers, and I think the memo on Enderby Land must refer to your notes.  Do you know of a memo by Hatfield on the Aurora Islands?  I shall be so much obliged if you can help me.   The matter, of course, is urgent as Shackleton hopes to be at Rio on the 28th and wants to leave there not later than 12th December.  I shall therefore be so glad if you would kindly write to me as soon as possible with any information you may have.

I am glad to know that the damage to the engine is not serious, but it is not working very well and the shaft has to be altered.

With kindest regards,

Yours sincerely 

John Quiller Rowett

Watts transmitting from Quest’s wireless room

As Quest is so far behind schedule, the plan to call at Trinidada and Martin Vas archipelago is abandoned.

Friday 18 November, 1921

It is decided that Quest should be painted black and grey rather than the bright but impractical white and yellow. The crew go to work.

Sunday 20 November 1921

Quest is in contact with Rio to try and find a ship that can Wilkins and Douglas on ahead to South Georgia, a plan which Shackleton is keener on than the scientists.

Monday 21 November, 1921

A still night. At 10pm, the lights of Rio’s Ilha Rasa lighthouse are sighted from Quest and soon the lights of Rio itself. Leonard Hussey entertains with his banjo.

Leonard Hussey on Quest