Monthly Archives: February 2016


It’s just a word sometimes employed by people pretending to be pirates to most modern ears but until recently scurvy stood as a perplexing and deadly problem for mariners and polar explorers.  In this episode I discuss how sailors and scientists solved the scurvy riddle, screw up an attempt to say “very low levels,” and make myself sad.

The manual sneer – a classic symptom.


All that’s left of the Big Dead Place website.

I usually listen to episodes before releasing them and make any necessary edits to the file before hitting send.  This time I didn’t and a sizeable error, as opposed to the usual multitude of pronunciation gaffs and inept word and phrasing choices, got incorporated into the finished product.  I recount that Scott’s first shot at the pole fell short by eighty nautical miles.  I was conflating Scott’s first hauling trip and Shackleton’s later attempt.  I was out by a factor of five in Scott’s case, as he didn’t get closer than four hundred nautical miles before scurvy saw the team turn back.  Even in conflating this with Shackleton’s effort, I got it wrong.  Shackleton turned back when ninety-seven nautical miles from the prize.
These events will get their own episodes but I feel like a dumbass for not checking these readily verified facts in the rush to make use of the remaining data storage at the end of the month.

Competition Time: win a trip to the Ross Sea

No, “Ice Coffee” isn’t offering free passage south.  I struggled to meet a commitment to mail a book interstate, so I’m not in any position to send anyone beyond the convergence.  Oceanwide Expeditions are footing the bill, in this case, and I recommend anyone who listens to the series get their entry together and get their friends to boost them to the necessary twenty vote mark to be in the running for what sounds like a most exciting itinerary.
I’ll provide this handy link to my entry, which you can vote on if you really want to, because I could record all sorts of soundscapes, interviews and episodes recounting events at the sites they occurred, and wouldn’t that be cool, and find your way to the entry page from there.
Entries close at the end of the month.


Free trip to the Ross Sea?  Core/Corr!

In the offing

The offing is the area near a port where ships lie at anchor, awaiting their opportunity to berth and transfer cargo.  In the case of Ice Coffee, the offing is the space on my hard drive where interviews and episodes lie idle until the monthly archive process frees up space to publish new material.
The offing is currently chock-a-block.  The Erebus and Terror are bunkering coal for their episode rounding out the three way race south, marking the start of another long period of international Antarctic indifference.  Interviews with dog driver Peter Cleary and ice diving legend in his own lifetime Rob Robbins await gaps fit to fit their tales.
I’ve lined up an interview with Antarctica’s first and only lexicographer for the end of this month.

Several episodes ago I launched a Patreon account with the offer of present day updates as the key reward for subscribers.  Shortly after setting up the account, Patreon got hacked, giving me pause regarding the service.  The other thing that saw me lose interest in that attempt to monetize Ice Coffee was that the material I’ve been gathering to act as present day updates was so interesting I wanted to share it with everyone.  These present day insights will be released on the back of any episode deemed not long enough on its own or as short episodes where the monthly allocation hasn’t been used up to the last byte.
Perhaps this would have panned out differently if hundreds of dollars per episode lay in its own offing, but I’ve dismissed opportunities to syndicate the series because of the time, timing and content strictures this would involve and think that even if the number of subscribers suddenly explodes, I’ll stick to the route I’ve charted here.  Reefed sails seems to be the mien of my efforts in podcasting and I’m comfortable I can sustain the current output indefinitely in balance with other commitments.

Much gratitude to those who Patreoned.  The content will come your way, regardless.

c17 erebus


For my money, Charles Wilkes is the first of the Antarctic martinets.  Drawn south by the opportunity to lead a large expedition and little else, his attempts to coordinate six poorly fitted out and ill matched ships crewed by people who largely thought little of him went every bit as well as that sentence suggests.