The Weddell Sea will always be remembered as the polar region that still echoes the ill-fated expedition of the great British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The 1914 expedition was a failure but it produced one of the greatest stories in the history of polar exploration. His ship, the Endurance was beset in the ice almost in sight of her destination, Vahsel Bay, and after drifting northwards, eventually sank. The crew camped out on the pack-ice and slowly made its way to Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands and, as there was no hope of rescue, Shackleton determined to go for help.
He decided to head for South Georgia. Shackleton and five companions set out in one of the lifeboats across 1,300 km (800 miles) of the stormiest water in the world. Sixteen days later, worn out, soaked and hungry they sighted the southern coast of South Georgia. But they still had to cross the interior of the island, as the whaling stations were all situated on the northern coast. The interior of South Georgia had never been surveyed and they had to guess their route, but after a difficult march they finally found their way to the whaling station Stromness, where they did get help. However, it would take them another three attempts to get back to Elephant Island before the 22 marooned men of the Endurance were rescued. Through Shackleton’s outstanding courage and leadership his men survived.