However, as the months wore on, it was clear that if Shackleton did not return soon, the penguins would leave their rookery because they wintered at sea and the seals would not be hauling out here either. Even the seabirds who nested on the Island would leave them to the mercies of the elements and starvation. Grim as this place is, with its black cliffs, constantly overhanging clouds and fogs, relentless seas rolling over the spit of land, cold temperatures, and constant wet conditions, some of the survivors actually expressed a sadness at leaving their refuge site when Shackleton finally did come. Howamazing! One would have thought they would have left it behind merrily, with great relief, and a desire never to see that godforsaken island again! Frank Wild had daily climbed up the little rocky knoll where the penguins sat and scanned the horizon with the dimming hope of seeing “The Boss.” Daily, he roused the men with the refrain: “Tidy up and stow the gear, the Boss may be coming today!” For 4 ½ months, those men lived with that thought. How they remained sane is an enigma and a miracle. And to think that many of those same men were ready to sail with Shackleton again when he tried to go south yet again six years later! Go figure! S HIP T ROUBLES With this look at Elephant Island and our thoughts of those desperate survivors, we had a pretty scary experience ourselves that night. We were lying on our beds reading at about 11 PM when the lights suddenly went out and the ship yawed sharply to port! We were thrown out of our beds. Totally alarmed, we exclaimed in unison, “What the Hell just happened?” Of course, no answer came out of the darkness or over the loud speaker to reassure us. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only 60 seconds, the lights came back on and we felt the ship slowly right itself. However, the engine pulsing had completely stopped so it did not seem that all was well again, especially considering that there was quite a chop in the ocean waves. We quickly put on shoes and parkas over our pajamas and rushed into the gangway to find several fellow passengers milling about trying to figure out what was going on. Worse yet, there was an intense and acrid chemical smell in the gangway which made our eyes, noses, and throats smart!
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