We have been in South Georgia for the last few days. I had no idea. No-one
ever told me. Did you know? This is one of the most beautiful places I have
ever been. Possibly the most,- but then, how to rank? Mountains. Mountains,
huge and white, loomimg, soaring out of the ocean, blue and cold. It sounds
so simple but it is breathtaking, I don’t have the words or capability I’m
afraid, to explain it better. This is where Shackleton came to search for
help after a year and a half of being stranded on a floating ice shelf. You
know the story. And at the very end, the bit with the best bumslide in
history, it says ‘they landed on the wrong side and so had to climb across
S. Georgia to get to the whaling station’. They didn’t say how huge and
impossible and breathtaking a hike that would be. Or that no-one has ever
managed to repeat it. Forget the miraculous journey that got them this far,
I don’t care what you say, Shackleton was a hero. On the back of his grave
is a quote by Robert Browning:
"I hold…. that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set
I am in love with the landscape here. Truly, I think I could live here.
And you could even visit me (and I could leave to visit you) as there are
fishing and tourist boats coming and going the whole time (during the
summer). So it’s not that remote. Really.
After an inital stop off at King Edward Point to pick someone up, we went
to the other side of the island, to Bird Island, a "site of special
scientific interest" (SSI) so has restricted access …certainly no access
for cruise ships. It was a real honour to be allowed to visit (we had cargo
to offload and there was some building work to be done too). The smell is
horrible. Really awful. Fur seals. They stink. It’s rank. Beats smelling
salts for waking you up. Yuk. The island, however, is gorgeous. Nesting
albatrosses (wanderers and black-brows), so beautful, peaceful and
enormous. And a penguin colony on the side of a majestic crevasse… with
35000 nesting PAIRS. That is, 80,000 macaroni penguins at the height of the
season. Breathtaking. And no fear of humans. You wouldn’t ofcourse, but you
could, get close enough to touch them. With their funny bright yellow head
embellishment. Amazing. It is said that David Attenborough came here and
said "wow". Praise indeed!
Penguins and albatrosses appear unthreatened by humans which is more than
can be said for the fur seals. Territorial. And so many of them that it’s
impossible to not be in someone’s territory. So we were armed with sticks
upon arrival. Back on King Edward Point however, there is more space and
are more elephant seals. These ones are beautiful flobbedob creatures with
large round eyes and peaceful mongolian faces. They’re territorial too I
guess but not very scary. The fur seals are scary and bite people. They
look more like city traders with stuck up noses and long chinese emperor
whiskas. In the water, however, they are sleek and beautiful.
Travelling between the two bases was also breathtaking (I need another
word I know. Sorry.) In the water, seals everywhere, playing. And penguins!
Loads of them flying through the air, it’s called ‘porpoising’. They were
porpoising. That’s when they fling themselves in the water and fly upstream
like a skimming stone. So contrary to their land-style. Penguins are the
comedy relief when it all gets a bit too much, too astounding, too
enormous, too, takingawayofbreathlike. Nothing like a comedy penguin to
remind you that you’re still on planet Earth after all.
We also had the amazing opportunity to sail close to the shoreline, past a
number of old Nowegian whaling stations. Like abandoned shanty towns,
rusting and forgotten, falling into the sea. A reminder of days when the
sea around here was very red. And not so long ago either. Discarded towns
hidden in bays defined by glaciers, mountains, wildlife, rock formations,
So that’s where we’ve been, we are in the sub-Antarctic here, the ‘banana
belt’ but are headed back to the colder regions now. First east for a long
way to avoid sea ice and then south-west, crawling in along the coast
towards Halley. Sea ice conditions look great for our purposes and I think
everyone is optimistic that we’ll make it in with good time. I think the
current arrival date is estimated to be around christmas time so the big
festivities may have to wait until New Year after most of the cargo has
been unloaded. Time is still flying by on the ship, much to my astonishment
and enjoyment. I wonder how there can be enough minutes in the day at home
to achieve anything at all! Love to you all. This place has been calling me
for so long and it’s all my dreams coming true. xx
The Antarctic has been calling you since you were 13 or 14 – and now you are THERE. I am so happy for you. Your description of the scenery is fabulous, one can feel your heartbeat when you get on deck to see yet another,yes, breathtaking sight.
Have a good landing at Halley and a merry Christmas unloading the boat!
You really had some spectacular visuals in Georgia. All the things that I have wished to see since befor yesterday. All the beauty and exhaltation that God has given us.
What a wonderful world. Yes Georgia is laced with spectacular and amazingly wonderful sights. But, how about those truths? How many of those facts and realities did you encounter to tar those visuals that you saw. None I hope. It would have spoiled your vist.
In reading what you experienced I was elated only to come back to the truth. Georgia especially South Georgia is one of the most tanted places in all the US to live, love, or endure.
Dignity has no meaning here. Loyalty knows no one, and deception is a key to success. The battle ground was a foundation for this place. And it is still building. True beauty as you have seen and experienced in Georgia’s scenary is in the natural untouched by man-to a certain degree-reality that keeps most of us here afloat.
None the less I am happy that you saw and felt what you did in this place. Your exhaltation only enforced my knowing there is a God and with that hope still stands.