The Epic journey begins

An expedition in the planning since 2008, Tim Jarvis AM and the crew of the Shackleton Epic have finally set sail this morning, in their attempt to become the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s treacherous voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia and climb over its mountainous interior.

The expedition left Elephant Island today to sail the 800 nautical miles to South Georgia in good conditions – 20 knot winds from the south west.

Shackleton Epic sets sail. Credit: A. Kumar

Shackleton Epic sets sail. Credit: A. Kumar

The expedition aims to emulate Shackleton’s 1916 voyage across 800 nautical miles of the most challenging and treacherous seas on the planet – the Southern Ocean – in an exact replica of Shackleton’s 22.5’ (6.9m) whaler, James Caird. This replica vessel is named the Alexandra Shackleton after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s granddaughter and president of the James Caird Society.

As conservation partner, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has advised on identifying and developing science-based outcomes, including collecting data on ocean pH, sea surface temperature, air temperature, wind speed, wave height and iceberg incidence.

The information gathered will help raise awareness of the need for immediate action to conserve the fragile Antarctic ecosystem and will be used by FFI to inform climate change mitigation strategies and projects.

Credit: Jo Stewart

Credit: Jo Stewart

To this day, no one has successfully recreated the complete ‘double’ journey across sea and land using traditional gear. The only concessions to the use of period equipment will be the storage of modern emergency equipment and radios on board, and the presence of a support vessel, Australis in the Southern Ocean. This equipment and Australis’s assistance will only be used in the event that Alexandra Shackleton gets into serious trouble.

A crew of five British and Australian adventurers will join the expedition leader, British-Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis – in an attempt to become the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s perilous sea voyage and the dangerous crossing of South Georgia’s mountainous interior.

As an environmental scientist with Arup and veteran of multiple polar expeditions, Jarvis is determined to make the most of this opportunity to highlight the impact of climate change on the Antarctic’s unique environment.

The British team members include Skipper Nick Bubb, Mountain Leader WO2 Barry Gray RM,  Expedition Bosun Petty Officer Seb Coulthard RN FRGS, Expedition Cameraman Ed Wardle; while the navigator is another Australian, Paul Larsen.

The expedition is raising funds for FFI, which will support FFI’s biodiversity efforts across the globe.

FFI wishes Tim and his crew a safe passage and equally safe return. You can send your own message of support to [email protected]

FFI will continue to provide Shackleton Epic updates as the expedition progresses, and readers can also track the progress of the Alexandra Shackleton in real time at

Learn more about Ernest Shackleton’s original voyage, and find out how FFI is getting involved with the Shackleton Epic centenary re-enactment.