With only 60nm to go, we’re following a lead of open water between the Brunt ice shelf and broken sea-ice, aided by satellite images and a clear sky. Our progress varies between flat-out (14knts) to stuck solid, depending on conditions and luck in choosing the right channel between the floes of frozen sea. When we hit a dead-end, we can either back out or break through into the next stretch of open water. In a narrow channel breaking through is the only option, so Captain Harper reverses for 500m then approaches the blockage with the turbos howling and propeller at the most aggressive setting. As she hits the ice, the Shackleton rides up before the kink in her bow below the waterline catches the floe, pulling all her weight down to sharply crack the surface. From within the ship this sounds like an almighty crashing followed by a violent judder from side to side as the pieces separate. Once broken, we slowly edge through until we can continue on our course.
We are now back in clear water, but with one more ice section to come. Depending on how that goes, we could arrive tomorrow or Christmas Day