Thank you to everyone who submitted their favorite travel memory for our 20th Anniversary competition. We received so many wonderful entries—from interacting with shiny black mountain gorillas in Rwanda to being serenaded by 50 little boys in Zodiacs in Yap—we thoroughly enjoyed reading through 20 years of truly amazing experiences. While it is difficult to choose just one winner, the entry that we felt best embodies the Zegrahm style of expedition travel and also the connection our travelers make with each other is from our January 1997 Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands expedition. Congratulations, John and Frederica Valois, for your touching recollection of Jean Macklin’s special visit to Elephant Island:
Soon after the World Discoverer departed from Ushuaia word spread through the passengers that a very special person was traveling with us, a Mrs. Jean Macklin. She was the wife of Dr. Alexander Macklin, one of the two surgeons Shackleton took on the Endurance expedition of 1914. Dr. Macklin remained with 21 others on Elephant Island from where Shackleton set forth in the James Caird to seek help from the British whaling station, Stromness, on South Georgia Island, 800 miles away.
Jean Macklin had been persuaded by a Scottish friend (who was an excellent birder) to join this trip which would stop at Elephant Island. Jean originally had no desire to see where her husband “existed” for four months, but finally acquiesced to her friend’s urging.
On a chilly, but sunny morning the World Discoverer arrived at Elephant Island. Unfortunately, the sea state prevented another Zodiac landing experience, but expedition leader, Mike Messick, and crew launched one Zodiac and took Jean over to the rocky spit, 250 yards long and 50 yards wide, where the Endurance’s survivors had pitched camp. Mike maneuvered the Zodiac close to the rocks enabling Jean to touch the land of her husband’s “prison.” There wasn’t a dry eye among those watching from the rail of the World Discoverer.
That evening at recap, Jean graciously shared with the group her feelings about her morning’s encounter with Cape Wild. She said initially she had no desire to visit Elephant Island, much less go to the Antarctic, but once she walked on the White Continent she realized it was important to her to visit the Island. She felt privileged to have touched the place her husband and 21 others survived under unimaginable conditions. She thanked her friend for insisting she join the Zegrahm trip and she thanked Zegrahm for arranging her encounter with Cape Wild, an event she would always cherish. Again, there wasn’t a dry eye among the assembled. Jean Macklin reached the hearts of all who were aboard and her memory is our favorite Zegrahm memory.