(From South: Sir Ernest Shackleton)
Launched at a traditional naval naming ceremony at Portland Marina, Dorset, UK in March 2012 and named after The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Shackleton Epic’s patron, Sir Ernest’s granddaughter and president of the James Caird Society, the Alexandra Shackleton is a replica of Shackleton’s 22.5’ (6.9m) whaler, the James Caird.
Tim Jarvis and his crew have been conducting sea trials in the English Channel aboard the Alexandra Shackleton as well as safety and survival training. The vessel is now being shipped to Antarctic waters where the crew will participate in further training ahead of the expedition.
The Alexandra Shackleton was built at the International Boatbuilding College at Lowestoft. While the essential outer features of the James Caird and the Alexandra Shackleton are the same, there are a couple of differences between the boats:
- European larch from Scotland has been used for the Alexandra Shackelton rather than the Baltic pine planking on steamed oak timbers of the James Caird
- The Alexandra Shackleton has a full deck of pine boards and canvas, whereas the James Caird – initially timber planked only fore and aft.
On the ice, Shackleton’s carpenter, Henry ‘Chippy’ McNeish, built up the James Caird's sides by three planks fitted to the hull with short timbers, also extending the stem at the bow and the stern. To strengthen the keel and allow a mast step for the main mast he bolted a section of a spar onto the hog/keel. The Alexandra Shackleton follows the same principles. The mizzen mast was stepped on the aft athwart.
The Alexandra Shackleton’s plank seams are caulked with cotton, as they were with the original James Caird, and the boat's seams are paid up with a mixture of putty and white lead paste. Originally McNeish & Co. had to make use of George Marston's oil paints for this touching-up process!