Posts Tagged ‘Mawson’

Turney’s tourists: the heroes who weren’t

January 9, 2014

Turney’s tourists on his Ship of Fools are severely taken to task by David Roberts in the National Geographic. They see themselves as heroes. But they were just a bunch of spoilt dilettantes who were out on a frivolous lark of no scientific significance. Douglas Mawson will be spinning in his grave.

The members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 (AAE)—who intended to re-create a very small part of Sir Douglas Mawson‘s original monumental expedition of 1911-14—seemed strangely blasé—even giddily upbeat—during their ten days stranded in the ice. 

They recorded a New Year’s Eve sing-along for YouTube and chatted about yoga classes and knot-tying lessons to while away the time.

On their Spirit of Mawson expedition blog, one passenger signed off on December 28: “It’s Saturday and it’s bar-time (bar opens at 6 pm), so I am going to leave it here.”

They even seemed to relish their crisis. The BBC quoted Tracy Rogers, the team’s marine ecologist, as saying, “It’s fantastic—I love it when the ice wins and we don’t. It reminds you that as humans, we don’t control everything … We’ve got several penguins watching us, thinking ‘What the hell are you doing stuck in our ice?’ The sky is a beautiful grey—it looks like it wants to have a bit of a snow. It’s the perfect Christmas, really.”

For many seasoned adventurers, the team’s attitude was hard to swallow. It seemed to betoken a new kind of entitlement, in which folks who get into serious trouble take it for granted that other people will risk their lives to save them. ….

Perversely, for the general public, the hapless passengers seemed to emerge as the heroes of the story, even though they did nothing but twiddle their thumbs and wait for the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long to come to their rescue, which ended by trapping the much bigger vessel in the ice. The U.S. sent another icebreaker, the U.S. Polar Star, to rescueXue Long and Shokalskiy, but that mission was recently called off when the ships were able to break free from the ice. …..

…… The whole expedition, these experts implied, amounted to a “frivolous” lark that added almost nothing to our knowledge of the southern continent. …

The real heroes of the story were the 101 members of the Xue Long, the 22 crew members of the Shokalskiy who stayed with their ship, the crew of the Polar Star, and that of the Australian ship Aurora Australis that powered south to receive the airlifted refugees.

“It seems unlikely that the dilettantes who signed up for AAE 2013-14 would soon fork over the funds to pay for their perilous and expensive rescue. They’re still too busy congratulating themselves.

The Akademik Shokalskiy and the Xue Long got free of the ice 5 days after Turney’s tourists abandoned ship. Why the tourists needed to be rescued is still a mystery. Presumably the booze had run out.


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