Soon after leaving Rio, Shackleton complains of severe neuralgic pains in the chest and back but resists suggestions to return for medical treatment. He begins an ‘uncharacteristic practice’ of taking champagne in the mornings.
Monday 19 December, 1921
Shackleton transmits via Rio: Our engines are running perfectly. There is a fair wind. All well and looking forward.
Jeffrey suffers a bad leg injury – falling through the ward-room hatch door and tearing the muscles in his left calf – and is prescribed 3 weeks’ bed rest. Shackleton takes over Jeffrey’s watch rota.
Tuesday 20 December, 1921
Wilkins collects two white-chinned petrels, or Cape hens, from their burrow. He films albatross. And he shoots a pair of teal that he disturbed on his way back to camp. Two pipits escape capture. He has evidently overcome some of his qualms as he has “mollymauk stew for supper, it is quite good eating”
Wednesday 21 December, 1921
When the sun eventually comes out on South Georgia, Wilkins takes a lot of film footage and photographs, including five in colour of the birds and scenery around Elsa Bay (Elsehul) and Undine Harbour.
On Quest, Roddy Carr is detailed to make some cupboards and shelves to enhance the new forward living quarters. Hussey congratulates him on his appointment as joiner, and henceforth calls him Roddy Carr-penter.
Thursday 22 December, 1921
At latitude 30⁰ 47’ S, the first albatross is sighted and, unusually to be seen together, a “Portuguese man-o’-war”.
On South Georgia, with the sun gone and with rain and sleet Wilkins spends the day skinning bird specimens. When outside to shoot a sea elephant for fuel, he bags a pair of Arctic Terns.
Friday 23 December, 1921
On Quest, the barometer falls 2 inches in four hours and a strong gale gets up.
On South Georgia, Wilkins shoots: a Sooty Albatross, a Giant Petrel, a White-chinned Petrel (Cape Hen), a Ringed Antarctic penguin and two King Penguins. He photographs what he estimates is a year-old albatross being fed by an adult.