The Bremont Endurance

Posted on June 10 2018

The Bremont Endurance

Ernest Shackleton, HMS Endurance and Ben Saunders:

Ben Saunders (UK) planned a mission to follow Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to save the stranded crew members of the Endurance. He commenced the solo, west to east expedition, from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice shelf in November 2017. He reached  the South Pole in 52 days (1086Km). However due to ferocious conditions, he had consumed more food than planned, and was left with only 13 days of supplies for a continued 17 day 576 Km   journey in order to complete the solo unassisted trans-antarctic expedition.  He could have taken on more supplies at the south pole but chose not to, subsequently halting the expedition. Re-supply would have rendered the solo unassisted mission a failure. He remains only the third person in the world to have skied expeditions to both poles, and the first to ski solo (unsupported and unassisted)  missions to both poles.

Wikipedia Shackleton excerpt:

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17), also known as the Endurance Expedition, is considered the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Conceived by Sir Ernest Shackleton, the expedition was an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. After the conquest of the South Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911, this crossing remained, in Shackleton's words, the "one great main object of Antarctic journeyings".[1] The expedition failed to accomplish this objective, but became recognised instead as an epic feat of endurance.
Shackleton had served in the Antarctic in Captain Scott's Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and had led the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907–09. In this new venture he proposed to sail to the Weddell Sea and to land a shore party near Vahsel Bay, in preparation for a transcontinental march via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. A supporting group, the Ross Sea party, would meanwhile establish camp in McMurdo Sound, and from there lay a series of supply depots across the Ross Ice Shelf to the foot of the Beardmore Glacier. These depots would be essential for the transcontinental party's survival, as the group would not be able to carry enough provisions for the entire crossing. The expedition required two ships: Endurance under Shackleton for the Weddell Sea party, and Aurora, under Aeneas Mackintosh, for the Ross Sea party.
Endurance became beset in the ice of the Weddell Sea before reaching Vahsel Bay, and drifted northward, held in the pack ice, throughout the Antarctic winter of 1915. Eventually the ship was crushed and sunk, stranding its 28-man complement on the ice. After months spent in makeshift camps as the ice continued its northwards drift, the party took to the lifeboats to reach the inhospitable, uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others then made an 800-mile (1,300 km) open-boat journey in the James Caird to reach South Georgia. From there, Shackleton was eventually able to mount a rescue of the men waiting on Elephant Island and bring them home without loss of life.

Ben wore his Bremont expedition watch on the outside of his jacket to serve as a navigational aid with its GMT Hand and Bi-directional rotating compass bezel. The watch was made from titanium ( so save weight) and  assembled using very specialized lubricants that could withstand the punishingly frigid weather.

The GMT Hand is made with the letter “N” to denote North. When the GMT hand is set to the local time ( corresponding to the time indicated on the watch) and the hour hand is pointing in the direction of the sun, the GMT hand points to the North. The compass bezel, when adjusted to suit, will then act as a directional guide.


 How to navigate using your watch:

It seems that using your watch to navigate has become a bit of a lost art, like many things in the mechanical watch knowledge base. Yet it's really quite easy.

If your watch has a GMT hand:

  1. Ensure the GMT hand is set to local time ( as displayed by the hour and min hands)
  2. Remove your watch and hold it flat / horizontal
  3. Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun ( as if it were on the horizon)
  4. View the GMT hand as it will be pointing North.
  5. If your watch has a compass bezel , rotate it so that "N" lines up with the GMT hand
  6. Re-establish your direction ( #3) often as the sun is moving across the sky

 If your watch has three hands:

  1. Remove your watch and hold it flat / horizontal
  2. Point the hour hand in the direction of the sun ( as if it were on the horizon)
  3. South will be located in between where the hour hand is ( pointing in the direction of the sun) and 12
  4. If your watch has a compass bezel , rotate it so that "S" lies is between 12 and the hour hand
  5. Re-establish your direction ( #2)  ]often as the sun is moving across the sky

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