Capt. Wubbold to share Antarctic tale

Islander Capt. Joe Wubbold will share the inspiring maritime tale of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in an intimate benefit event on Sunday for Vashon Community Care.

Shackleton was an Irish-born explorer who frequently traveled the oceans of the world, but who is best known for a near-tragic expedition when his ship, Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Antarctic circle and Shackleton faced seemingly insurmountable odds to save his ship’s crew from an icy end.

“It’s an incredible story of self-sacrifice, and all of that’s a little bit thin on the ground these days,” said Wubbold, who serves on the Vashon Community Care board of directors. Shackleton “saved everybody. It’s just an incredible story, and people who come to this discussion will see that it’s an even more incredible story than it might first seem on the surface.”

Wubbold, the former skipper of a Coast Guard icebreaker and a natural storyteller, has been to the Antarctic several times. He’s well prepared to discuss Shackleton’s tale, as he was instrumental in the establishment of the Shackleton Memorial Library at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge, where Wubbold earned his master’s degree in polar studies.

“He’s a dynamic captain, and I think once a captain, always a captain,” Linda Milovsoroff, Vashon Community Care’s director of development, said of Wubbold. “He is a delightful fellow, and he has a wonderful gift for the nautical.”

Wubbold plans to share the motivational story of Shackleton, then open the gathering up so audience members can chime in about Shackleton or the Antarctic — “an incredibly beautiful place,” he said.

The goal of Sunday’s benefit is to inform and encourage those who attend “to come to a better understanding of the Antarctic and what it means to us today,” Wubbold said, while raising funds for Vashon Community Care, the Island’s senior living facility which has suffered from decreased governmental funding in recent years.

Wubbold’s talk and discussion is the first of a planned benefit series for Vashon Community Care, called “Telling Stories.”

“There’s just a great wealth of people on this Island with very interesting stories,” Milovsoroff said. “We thought, what better gift could we give to the community than to offer a forum for the many interesting people on Vashon to share their stories?”

Islander Mary Matsuda Gruenewald will be the second speaker in the “Telling Stories” series. She is a Japanese-American who was living on Vashon when World War II began, and she was sent to an internment camp during the war. She later became a nurse. Matsuda Gruenewald will share her captivating tale this fall, Milovsoroff said, though the date has not yet been set.

More “Telling Stories” talks are in the works, she added. Milovsoroff said she hopes the series is a success for the audience, the speakers and Vashon Community Care. Several VCC residents plan to attend Wubbold’s talk, she said.

“Capt. Joe is well liked and loved by many residents, so I know they won’t want to miss his talk,” she said. “I hope it’s a very interesting experience for the people who come and that they walk away having learned some new things about this incredible time period of polar exploration.”

Capt. Joe Wubbold will share the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton at the Blue Heron at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 16. Tickets, which are “pay what you can,” are available at Books by the Way, Vashon Bookshop and Vashon Community Care.

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