I had a drink with Frank Wild tonight. There were a few of us there, old shipmates and new. It was in the Ioffe’s expedition room with the whole staff of One Ocean, the six members of the Wild family onboard, Alexandra Shackleton, Ron Naveen from Oceanites, Angie Butler and Rev Richard and his wife. It was pretty crowded in there, with waders and float coats hanging all around. And we were privileged to see Michael Moore demonstrate that he can tie a bowline knot with his toes.

The guest of honour, Frank Wild, arrived in a very inappropriate jaunty floral zip-up bag, like a large soft purse. His urn was the one in which he was placed after his cremation – it’s pine but has been painted with a speckled effect to look like stone. He sat on the work bench as did many of the staff.

Of course, a special occasion deserves a special drink. We had exactly what Frank had. Or as close as the intervening century allows. His Nimrod expedition of 1908 was supplied with a very nice McKinley’s Scotch whisky in a presentation case marked “British Antarctic Expedition 1907”. In one of those inexplicable events in history, three cases of the whisky ended up buried and lost until this year. I bet the members of Shackleton’s stranded Ross Sea Party will be sad they missed that find. One case was brought back to the UK and some drops of whisky extracted by syringe and tasted and analysed. No full drams for a drink so rare, unfortunately. But reports are that it tasted good after its century on ice.

Then the whisky was painstakingly reproduced, as was the bottle and the packaging. The original straw padding didn’t fit current world quarantine requirements so it was replaced with substitute synthetic straw – I didn’t know that but Alexandra did. It was released to the public just a week before we sailed. I managed to buy a bottle in Willoughby NSW for $A200.

I opened it standing next to Frank and we poured it into cups, just a splash as there were about 30 of us in the room. And we had a toast to Frank, those of us who have come from around the world to carry him to his final resting place. He would have enjoyed the night as it turned into a rollicking party though it was brief as we are planning a 4.30am excursion. I rather think he would have approved of that too – he and Sir Ernest liked to keep the men busy. For those of us who were there it really was a night to remember.

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