13 November, 1996
Today we headed back to Cape Royds to retrieve our plankton nets and Clione. Unfortunately we didn't collect enough biomass for Bill's experiment. We reset our nets and will return on Saturday to check them. We are concerned because a crack developed where the nets were anchored. If this section of ice were to break away the nets would be lost. Although we'd be disappointed to lose the nets it would be a better scenario than the ice breaking while we were on it hauling in the nets. The trip out was much faster and more comfortable than the day before. I knew how to dress to stay warm and we had our previous track to follow.
We had to go by Shackelton's Hut and since we had more time we decided to investigate. Ernest Shackelton arrived at Cape Royds on February 3rd, 1908 and constructed the 33ft by 19ft hut that housed fifteen men. His intention was to be the first person to reach the South Pole. He did manage to get within ninety-seven miles of the pole before being turned back. He abandoned the hut in 1909 and returned to Britain where he received a hero's welcome and was knighted. Provisions were left in cases around the outside and the shelves inside we stocked in the event that another expedition needed the supplies. Non were to return and the hut was not reused.
Because of the cold dry climate, we found the hut as it was left 87 years ago. Some of the cans that were outside had rusted open and their contents were spilled on the ground. There were bales of hay that were to be fed to his ponies, animals that were ultimately used for food to ward off starvation. I suspect a group could live on the remaining provisions for at least a month.
Except for snow that has blown in through cracks, the hut appeared as if it had been cleaned daily. There were no cobwebs and no dust. I guess that is one of the advantages of living in this environment.
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