National Geographic : 1989 Jan
men had done more than 70 years before. In 1915 Shackle ton's ship, Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea during exploration of the Antarctic coast. In search of help Shackleton and five com panions sailed a 22.5-foot open boat 800 miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island and organized the rescue. Shackleton's story, which I had known since boyhood, helped inspire our voyage. Although the Sea Tomato is propelled by the most primitive of means, muscle power, she is otherwise completely high-tech. Built dory style out of sturdy marine aluminum, she is divided into nine watertight compart ments and can right herself after capsizing. She has a capacity for 30 days' supplies, the strength to withstand storm and ice, a configuration designed for row ing but with the ability to sail. Sea Tomato carries no life raft; she serves that function herself. Expeditions conducted over the years on seven continents have taught me that exploration is not all derring-do. In fact, it is- or should be- a highly conservative business in which danger is measured against preparation. As a result, we even know what we will do if we miss the Antarctic Peninsula-row downwind toward Shackleton's goal, South Georgia.