THE granddaughter of a famous Antarctic explorer visited Portland to launch an expedition inspired by his historic voyage.

Six adventurers are going back in time to replicate a journey made almost a century ago using only technology, vittles and equipment that would have been available in 1916.

Patron of the trip, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, the closest surviving relative of Sir Ernest Shackleton, launched the project at Osprey Quay.

Her pioneering grandfather is world renowned for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914-17 which saw a team of three men make an ill-fated attempt across the Southern Ocean which resulted in one of the greatest rescue missions in history.

Alexandra visited Portland Marina for the arrival of an exact replica of Shackleton’s lifeboat, James Caird.

She said: “It’s taken years for the boat to be built, at the National Boatbuilding College, in Lowestoft, and this is the first time I’ve seen it.

“It’s just as I imagined. It’s incredible to think what my grandfather did on a lifeboat just like this one.”

The vessel, called ‘Alexandra Shackleton’, will be on public display for the next year while it undergoes further fittings and sea trials.

Phillip Rose Taylor, a Weymouth sail maker, has been chosen to complete the rigging.

He said: “I’m used to working on tall ships, so for me this is a small scale to make. The most exacting bit of this project is to see what the real sails looked like. When I’ve got the measurements right I can make the rest by hand, which will take about three weeks.”

Sebastian Coulthard, petty officer on the voyage, said: “We’re paying tribute to Shackleton. He was a great man and we are doing this for him.

“In my job as a helicopter engineer I’m used to operating in a team of seven men so this will be a similar environment and I’ll try to apply my 11 years of experience in service.”

To sponsor the project contact Sebastian Coulthard on 07960 479485 or at SIR Ernest Shackleton, pictured right, was one of the principal explorers of Antarctica in the early 1920s.

Disaster struck when he attempted to cross the continent from sea to sea via the pole, known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

The ship, Endurance, was trapped in pack ice and slowly crushed and there followed a sequence of exploits, and an ultimate escape over land with no lives lost, that cemented Shackleton’s heroic status.

The Shackleton Epic Expedition attempts to re-enact Shackleton’s voyage across the Southern Ocean from Elephant Island to South Georgia.

After their gruelling 800-mile crossing, three men will cross South Georgia in an attempt to reach the abandoned whaling station of Stromness, where Shackleton raised the alarm. To this day no one has been able to replicate the journey.