With winds picking up over night and approaching 50 knots the boat began to role and with it, me in my bed! So I was almost thankful to see first light outside and hear the alarm at 4 o’clock! As we approached South Georgia and Shag Rocks to the north I hoped that wildlife sightings would increase.
Unfortunately the weatherman decided to scupper my plans! I arrived on the bridge to force 9 seas and visibility of about 200m. Although the winds were now subsiding, the chance of wildlife sightings was remote at best. Still, I persevered unsuccessfully until breakfast! If the food wasn’t so good on the ship I may have been disheartened but when you’re at most four hours from a three course meal its hard feel aggrieved!
As unfavorable conditions continued I returned to my room to sort through the hundreds of pictures I’d taken the previous days. I did forex outside a few times and see a couple of fur seals and another Grey Headed Albatross but the most exciting part of my day was probably trying to aim in the toilet, whilst standing in a rolling force 9 sea.
First glimpse of South Georgia with a Giant Petrel in the foreground
Fortunately the weather had cleared by the following morning allowing us, not only better views of the wildlife, but also our first glimpses of South Georgia. We travelled south along the eastern side of the island with incredible views of snow covered mountains and blue glaciers before navigating towards King Edward Point through Cumberland bay.
A Black Browed Albatross pruning in flight in front of my new home
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been slightly worried about the crossing, with the Southern Atlantic notorious for some of the biggest seas in the world. Here, force 12 seas are far more frequent than flat calm days. But all my worrying was put in to perspective when we encountered a tiny yacht departing from South Georgia ready to venture back to civilization! If they can do it, it is and was a breeze for the my vessel; this time!
Small yacht leaving Cumberland Bay, South Georgia navigating through the glacial debris
Although the skies were blue the winds were far from calm and it needed some great skippering in order to park us safely alongside my new home.
King Edward Point, my new base with Antarctic Fur Seals and Elephant seals awaiting our arrival
South Georgia is unique for its incredible richness and diversity in both flora and fauna . But travelers, tourists and whalers, over the years have brought their share of non-native species to the islands, many of which have had large scale detrimental affects. The South Georgian Government are doing an incredible job aiding the return of the ecosystem back to its former strength with successful eradications of Rats and Reindeer both completed over the recent history. In order to prevent any more of these accidental introductions, before I was able to meet my new colleagues I had to stop of at the bio shed to thoroughly search and clean myself and my belongings.