The Quest Continues
‘The leadership fell on my shoulders…I knew that Sir Ernest Shackleton would have found some way to carry on, and I decided that by hook or by crook I would carry on also.’
The Quest Expedition continued under the command of Frank Wild, but as many of the men had joined Shackleton rather than the expedition, the expedition
had lost much of its raison d’être.
Yet again, the community of South Georgia provided support. Wild commented in his diary,
Quest continued ever southwards, with the aim of penetrating the Weddell Sea and proceeding along its southern coast. Quest was the smallest ship ever to attempt to penetrate the heavy Antarctic ice and as the ship entered the loose pack, Wild pondered on the fate of others.
‘Now the little Quest can really try her mettle.’
Quest headed south via the South Sandwich Islands, where a running survey was made of Zavodovski Island and soundings taken. Bouvetøya had to be missed through lack of time but they altered course to search for Pagoda Rock which had been reported in 1845. There was no sign and it had probably been a large iceberg.
Quest pushed on but heavy ice now thwarted progress into the Weddell Sea until she could no longer force her way through the pack ice and became beset. James Marr helped photographer Hubert Wilkins to record the event, before she eventually broke free. Quest reached 67° 17’S with indications that they were reaching the continent as the depth of the sea was decreasing, on 12 February however, they turned north again as the ship would not survive being frozen in.
On the way north, James Clark Ross’s ‘Appearance of Land’ was investigated but, although ice prevented reaching the precise spot, there was no sign of land and a sounding nearby gave a depth of 2,331 fathoms.
Skirting westwards along the ice edge, Quest reached Elephant Island, where a number of the crew had camped in 1916. Landings were made at Cape Lookout and Minstrel Bay to collect seal blubber to supplement the meagre supplies of coal. With another gale blowing up and causing considerable damage, Wild turned Quest‘s head back towards South Georgia.