A Travellerspoint blog

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

STROMNESS, South Georgia

Summertime in the South Atlantic

storm 20 °F


Last night we continued to sail around South Georgia through high seas that rocked the ship quite a bit. We came into Stromness Harbor where Ernest Shackleton and a small crew came in 1916 after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in a little open lifeboat. They landed on the wild southern coast of this island and trekked across mountains and glaciers to seek help. Norwegians from the whaling station provided it, and sailed back to Elephant Island where they rescued all 22 of Shackleton's men, 4 1/2 months after they had set up camp on the ice.

BUT ... the seas were too rough for our Zodiacs today, so we took a distant look at the harbor from the ship and left, now on our way to Tristan de Cuñha. So how about a tour of the ship instead off our travels? Above you will see us eating - we seem to do a lot of that! Bill is at the Pool Grill and in the Dining Room; then you see the dining room and bar pictured. We stroll on the deck - in the heat and in the cold - and look into the boutique as we pass by. Back in our suite, we LOVE recording where we are on our travel, and sitting on the veranda and reading when the waves are not fierce.

Love, B&H

Posted by HopeEakins 16:08 Archived in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Comments (1)

FORTUNA BAY, South Georgia

Up close and personal with the wildlife

semi-overcast 36 °F


Today we scrambled. We had to be packed back into our Antarctic gear for a 7:15 check-in. The butler brought coffee and muffins at 6:30, but Hope bolluxed up the schedule by donning Bill's boots instead of her own (they are all huge and heavy). So when Bill discovered that he couldn't fit his feet into her boots, we had to trade, and getting this Antarctic footwear on and off is a big project. But we did and then we got checked in to our expedition, checked out of the ship, disinfected, and loaded onto our Zodiac.

We came into Fortuna Bay where we are allowed to disembark because none of the island's 12 residents is here, so they wouldn't be susceptible to any viruses we might transmit. It is a small harbor protected by the surrounding mountains, and it is beautiful. Thousands of king penguins strut and hundreds of fur seals flop themselves forward on the rocks. We had been warned to back away from the seals if they approached, told that the seals can travel faster than we can and that they can be very aggressive. One of them was. One of them (a mother, we learned) though Hope to be threatening and decided to let her know that. The seal honked and bared its teeth and moved in. Hope wielded her hiking pole and backed off, but the seal was undeterred and knocked the pole away. Hope made loud noises (probably a bad idea) and retreated as fast as she could, and the seal ultimately found something better to do. Thanks be to God.

The red sacks you see piled up on the beach are filled with emergency supplies - tents, first aid, food, etc. - for use if the ship has to leave and we are stranded here. We were very glad to see the bags returned at the end of the excursion!

This afternoon we are being Covid tested again because, after tomorrow, we will be at sea for 11 days so if there are any positives, they can be quarantined until South Africa.

Posted by HopeEakins 21:14 Archived in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Comments (1)

GRYTVIGEN, South Georgia

Penguins, seals, and ruins

sunny 20 °F


South Georgia, a British Overseas Territory since the 18th century, is amazing. We aren't able to anchor on the south side of this small island because it is too wild, but the northeast is sunny and calm. We continue the biosecurity measures: pants washed, boots squirted and scrubbed, hats and gloves checked and vacuumed. Additionally, all the windows and doors on the ship are shrouded at so that the ship's lights will not attract birds to crash into us at night.
After donning our long underwear, outer clothes, waterproofs and parkas, and having life preservers fitted on us by crew, we went to our Zodiacs and headed off to Grytviken, a former Norwegian commercial station where the island's 12 residents now live and work (as scientists and administrators). What an odd vista! On one side are the low buildings currently in use, on the other are the crumbling remains of the whaling facility, defunct since the 1960's. In its 50 years of operation, this facility processed 50,000 whales, harpooning them, chopping them up, boiling them (along with some blubbery seals) and shipping the derived oil all over the world for commercial use in lamps and cosmetics and and and... Fur seals and penguins nest among the rusting tanks; a lovely little Luther church nestles in the midst of it all.
After our visit, the expedition commentator/navigator veered off to another Zodiac waiting to serve us champagne, hot chocolate, or the latter with Kaluha. Given the temp, you can guess what we chose. After this luxurious warm-up, we sailed back to the ship, climbed aboard and returned to relax on the veranda.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:59 Archived in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Comments (2)

South Georgia

Disappointment again

sunny 2 °F

We have just arrived in South Georgia, a small (100 x 22 miles) island in the South Atlantic, just beyond the Antarctic Sea. It took us 2 1/2 days to get here, through the rough waters of the Drake Passage and the Weddell Sea. During that time we turned our clocks ahead a lot (think how close the time zones are down here), went to many mandatory briefings on the island's flora and fauna, its history (Shackleton) and the protocols about biosecurity. Our boots and rubber pants, parkas, hats, and gloves were inspected, vacuumed, and cleaned to remove any seeds, etc. We saw a fantastic BBC film narrated by Sir David Attenborough; we give it four stars and recommend it to you (on YouTube). And this morning we were to land in our Zodiacs at Grytviken to walk among the king penguins and fur seals ... but learned that we cannot disembark because we have one case of Covid in quarantine. So we will take a Zodiac tour along the shore, but we are VERY disappointed. Tomorrow we go to Fortuna Bay, the next day to Stromness, and since these are uninhabited settlements, we will be allowed to go ashore.
Sadly, Hope and Bill

Posted by HopeEakins 09:54 Archived in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Comments (3)

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