Remembering Edward Bransfield

Edward Bransfield, the Irish-born navigator, is credited with making the first confirmed sighting and maps of the Antarctic coastline 200 years ago. It was a discovery which began the era of Antarctic exploration later made famous by the exploits of Ross, Crozier, Borchgrevink, Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton and others.

Team South are honored to be travelling those same seas and making their own discoveries 200 years later.


Williams, a small two-masted brig of just 216 tons, sailed on 19th December 1819 with Smith and his crew under the full command of Bransfield. The Williams was provisioned for a year and the logbook of HMS Andromache, Captain Shirreff’s ship, said of the Bransfield expedition:.

Artist’s Impression of  the ‘Williams’
Antarctic Peninsula, 30th January 1820,
by Jim Wilson © 2017

Go to
for the full history of Edward Bransfield

Maps of Discovery

From Valparaiso to Antarctica

The 7,000 mile (11,500 Km) voyage of discovery was fraught with danger for the small vessel which had not been strengthened against the ice and had sailed without navigation charts or a support ship into notoriously turbulent seas where strong currents,high winds and ice are a constant threat.

Discovery of Mainland Antarctica

On the 30th January 1820 Edward Bransfield’s expedition became the first to see and chart part of the Antarctic mainland. Midshipman Poynter wrote in his journal ‘‘….was discernible a high and rude range running in a NE and SW direction and centre of it bearing 6 or 7 Miles…..the whole of these formed a prospect not easily described’. Bransfield spent the next two months exploring and charting this ‘new’ continent.

South Shetlands and Trinity Land

Amended Dec 4th 2017 to show the full track of Voyage

Chart Edited version by Jim Wilson

Take Your Own Voyage of Discovery

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