THE MAN WHO RAN THE KATHLEEN ANNIE
On 30 September 1924 the schooner Kathleen Annie ran aground on the Muckle Green Holm, south of Eday, with a cargo of spirit. Her master was Commander Frank Worsley, a man of immense courage who had captained Shackleton’s ship Endurance in the Antarctic. When the ship was crushed by ice, he skippered the small boat that went on an epic journey to South Georgia to seek rescue. He would later command the Quest on Shackleton’s final voyage, a century ago. Local historian Patricia Long tells the story of the Kathleen Annie and Frank Worsley’s other links with Orkney. Polar historian Dr Maria Pia Casarini describes his rescue mission with Shackleton: six men in an open boat, through blizzard and hurricane and mountainous seas.
In spite of wet and cold I fell asleep instantly, but soon after something awakened me. Then I heard Shackleton shout ‘It’s clearing, boys!’ and immediately after ‘For God’s sake, hold on! It’s got us!’ The line of white along the southern horizon that he had taken for the sky clearing was, in fact, the foaming crest of an enormous sea. I was crawling out of my bag as the sea struck us. There was a roaring of water around and above us – it was almost as though we had foundered. The boat seemed full of water. We other five men seized any receptacle we could find and pushed, scooped and baled the water out for dear life. While Shackleton held her up to the wind, we worked like madmen, but for five minutes it was uncertain whether we would succeed or not.