A Travellerspoint blog

South Georgia - Part 2

Navigating along the Northern Coast

semi-overcast 7 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We'd arrived in Prince Olaf Harbour the previous evening and Steph and I had agreed to do harbor watch that morning from 4 to 8am.

We awoke early and found that it was still foggy and dark. The Seals and Penguins were howling and squawking and as the morning progressed and the sun began to rise out of the gloom the shoreline began to appear and in the half morning light the remnants of a large whaling station came slowly into view.

Straight out of some old film or some ghost story... the old whaling station was virtually entirely in tact and combined with it's history, rusty buildings and eerie howling going on around us... this place is perhaps one of the closest places I've ever been too where I could believe that their would be the odd ghost or two ;)

The fog cleared and we boarded our zodiacs for a short walk ashore around the station and up to the graves of some poor Norwegian whalers who's died in the station some two hundred years earlier.

(average age 28 years old!)

As we left this remote and tranquil old whaling and seal station, I couldn't help think that what was in it's day a highly focal and effective slaughter house had slowly been overrun by nature and, poignantly enough, those animals that the people had so actively slaughtered, now guarded their very graves...hmmmmm......

We headed for Fortuna Bay.

We had another Zodiac tour and saw some rather large Elephant Seals basking in the sun. We also visited another colony of King Penguins and also saw some Reindeer (that had been introduced to the islands) It was a nice walk and we had a good feed on our return.

Today we were walking....

Not just any old walk....

Nope.... we were going to follow the final 5 kilometers that Shakleton and his compadres finally made once they'd reached South Georgia.

The weather was sunny and it was the end of summer for us.... for those guys... it was the End of Autumn....

It was an easy enough walk and we headed up into the hills waving Europa off as she left to meet us on the other side of the ridge where she would pick us up after the walk (hopefully!)

We crossed the peak and headed down towards Stromness bay (where Shakleton some 100 years earlier had hurtled down on his ass in the snow)

We didn't have snow, however, I decided some moss would suffice and slid down on (an increasingly wet arse) down the hill... minus a few rocks every now and again... the slide worked quite well... nobody followed though....wimps :)

On the Beach lay the remains of another whaling station from where Shakleton had recuperated and embarked on a final trip to retrieve his compadres from elephant island some six months later!

They'd all survived !!!

We set sail for Grytviken... the capital (i.e. there were people there) of South Georgia.

We reached the "Big smoke" late in the afternoon and were welcomed by one of the research fishing vessels. The Catabatic Winds had started to whip around and after some waiting around before we could safely dock, we were due to head out to the other side of the island as a day hike.

The following morning we anchored up and after some formalities (where even though it is British soil... we still had to pay $100 for a visa) we were allowed ashore.

We were due to walk across the island to the other side of the point (the Maiviken walk) This was fun and although not everyone took part in the walk it was certainly scenic and well worth the 6 hours round trip.

We arrived back and went to the museum and walked around Grytviken (where we also visited the Shakelton Monument and his grave)

That night we all had a party and were joined by a few residents from the island's 12 strong permanent staff
(I think it was 4 scientists, an electrician, base commander, doctor, The Bases Ships' captain, shop keeper, museum curator and his wife and a postmistress)

We went to bed about 1.30am after a barbie and some free Antarctica Branded beer (Which was made in Brazil...figure that one out!) Anyway.... I kept an empty can for posterity reasons :) And we all consumed many more ! :)

We left early in the morning and had a good sail down the coast... albeit with slightly dickey heads and stomachs ;)

We headed for Godthul bay and Since Steph an I were nursing severe hangovers... we didn't land and chilled out on the ship (Steph made it up the Main mast too !!)

As the sun began to set I was fascinated by the returning Gentoo penguins who all swam straight up to the ship... would pop their heads up (as if to say what the Feck's this big thing!) and then swim around three times (the same amount each time) before working out they could swim around the ship :) Most amusing, however, I managed to get some good penguin swimming shots as a result.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that overnight there had been a smattering of snow and as a result the ship was covered with a fine white dusting that morning. Pictures were taken and then the obligatory snowball fight was had.

We then went via Zodiac to another old whaling station called Ocean Harbour where we got to see many penguins, seals, sea lions, Elephant seals, Albatross, Blue eyed shags and a myriad of other birds.

As if this wasn't enough we then headed round to Penguin Cove... where we were greeted (again) by thousands of Penguins...

Gentoos, Chinstraps and King Penguins all huddled together up the cliff sides (which must have been a good old climb to get there and back!)

We went to bed after a good feed and in the morning we headed down to Coppers Bay to see if we could find the so-far illusive Macaroni Penguins (of which there were supposedly more in South Georgia than anywhere else on earth!)

We weren't disappointed and after Landing in Coopers Bay, and short Zodiac ride and a quick hike up a hillside (which was snow and penguin shite laden and slippy as heck) we arrived at the Macaroni Penguin colony.

They are lovely little birds with Red Eyes and a Tuft of yellow feathers shooting back from their eyes (as if tucked back behind their ears.... expect they don't have any... but you can imagine anyway!) These little (noisy) guys seemed to be the final tick on most people's lists of "What to see in South Georgia" (which many of those aboard seemed to have in terms of expectations of the place)
and having been thoroughly Fauna and Flora'd out by this fantastic Island we settled into Anchor watch (from 10 til 12) as Europa was unable to set sail due to high winds

We leave tomorrow morning...boo hoo.....

Thank you South Georgia...

What a great place and a place that will I'm sure remain in Both our hearts for a long time!

Posted by Taffski 04:46 Archived in Falkland Islands Tagged boating Comments (0)

South Georgia - Part 1

The Jewel of the South Atlantic

overcast 4 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We arrived late in the evening and the weather closed in and we were soon enveloped in a blanket of Fog. We could hear and smell the land, however, it was too dangerous for us to Anchor up... so we sailed on that night.

We could hear the penguins and the seals but couldn't see anything... it was a kind of eerie place and to start with I wasn't sure of what to expect of the island group!

It's literally miles from anywhere... I remember that during the Falklands war... an SAS team landed in South Georgia and that there were no lives lost as a result, however, other than that.... Neither of us were too sure what to expect!

We'd pulled into Rosita Harbour at the Northwest point of the islands and had a little Zodiac tour of the area. We were joined by what seemed like hundreds of Sea Lions and they played around in the water as we sailed into the Harbour. We also managed to see Petrels, some King Penguins and Albatross flying around us as we plodded around in Sloopy....The Boat as opposed to one of the Zodiacs on board :)

Dsc07818.jpg

It was nice as to celebrate dry land and hopefully a landing on the Islands tomorrow... we all got a little bit drunk :) It was a nice evening.

By Morning we'd already moved to Salisbury plains, which was where we to land firstly in South Georgia.... What a place!

150,000 King Penguins !!!

Dsc07638.jpg

The main colony was further along the beach than where we landed, however, we were able to hang about with those on the pebble beach and just admire the birds as the fought, argued, flirted, and basically just enjoyed themselves on the beach.

Dsc07579.jpg

They're beautiful Birds and up close (which they were all to happy to come over and try to eat your Wellington boot or your jacket) their colours really are magical. Black and White with a crown of Yellow the Males and females were virtually identical, however, they all just waddled around through us as we sat on the beach. Magical !

We then were rounded up by Tully (Our Naturalist) and walked over the throng that was the main bulk of the colony.

How noisy, smelly, muddy, shitty (Penguin poop everywhere) a place it is..... and yet Beautiful at the same time. Here there were still some chicks and they were getting fed by the adults while the obligatory Skua's hung overhead waiting for any opportunity to grab a bite to eat (Penguin Chick food or indeed Penguin Chick given half a chance!)

Dsc07638.jpg

There were also the Obligatory Sea Lions inter dispersed along the beach and at the fringes of the colony, however, it definitely was a view that very, very few people in the world have seen and combined with it being our first landing on South Georgia, had already cemented the place as one of our favourites (all in one day and it was only lunch time!)

Dsc07658.jpg

Ok.... off to Prion Island to go and see some Giant Wandering Albatross. Where the heck are we I thought !!! This place is magical!

A few years earlier in New Zealand, Steph and I had gone to a part of the South Island specifically to see Wanderers, however, all we got to see was a single ball of fluff (a chick) and no adults.... so we were both excited at being able to see the birds with the largest wingspan in the world up close and personal!

We landed on the Island and then had to run (literally at points) the gauntlet of mother and baby Seals that were inter dispersed in the Grassy knolls that ran along side the path up to the Albatross rookery.

Wow.... there were about 20 Wanderers on the top of the bluff.... there were chicks, courting Adults and Juveniles all on land, however, there were also about 10 full grown adults gliding above our heads on the updrafts from the cliffs at the far side of the colony.

Some of the Adults began to display and to our delight they began to perform the Albatross Courtship dance right in front of us.... Amazing !

Dsc07690.jpg

These birds mate for life are now on the endangered list and to give you an idea of their size.... think of a bird that's the size of a sheep when stood up with the wingspan of a car when their flying !

Gorgeous birds and since the sun was setting at the time it was a beautiful location to witness one of the, sadly, rarer love dances in the world.

Every now and again I need to pinch myself (and Steph) to realise what exactly we're witnessing in this place and it's still day 1!!!!

Posted by Taffski 04:08 Archived in Falkland Islands Tagged boating Comments (0)

The Drake Passage (Heading North to South Georgia)

The big ...big... blue sea! Oh and some Icebergs

snow -6 °C

DSC06857.jpg

As part of the trip we were due to stop off at Elephant Island, where Shakelton and his compadres had walked and sailed to as part of their heroic adventure.

Unfortunately for us... the weather wasn't nice enough to allow us to drop anchor and get ashore and funnily enough the captain told us that in the previous three trips, they'd never been able to land on the island and as a result they were contemplating removing it from the schedule. Not really a good thing, however as we'd been at sea for two days already to get us to the island... we were already realising that it would result in 8 days at sea before we'd spot land again!

We waved goodbye to the inhospitable island and headed North into the Drake once again.

Funnily enough the weather was pretty good and the water temperature started (ever so slowly) to get warmer day by day. We were still south of the Antarctic convergence (which is where the cold water of Antarctica and the warmer waters of the South Atlantic "converge") so the weather was still damn cold though!

The watch was at 11 people (almost a full complement) however, as per usual, some of the others that had been fine for the whole Antarctic peninsula seemed to have forgotten their sea legs and wound up downstairs in their bunks...ill..... apparently!

This was really starting to wind Steph and I up!

-6!!!

Minus feckin 6 degrees !!!

That's what the temperature was last night and we were stood out in it on watch !

Talk about cold !

Taking into account the wind chill on the bow it worked out about minus 15 !!!

The watch is now down to 6 people... Steph had to bail last night and the rest of the guys are feeling a bit worse for ware!

Funnily enough I'm on good form and am starting to enjoy thing on board (even if it's freezing and windy and the seas rough!)

Makes you wonder how those poor soles in Shakelton's tiny boat coped with this weather and how all sailors in the olden days coped! We at least had nice coats and gloves etc....

The weathers getting worse! The cold water also means that the water making machine (reverse osmosis) isn't working as efficiently as expected, therefore fresh water reserves were down to a minimum. The Captain had banned showers until the water levels recover.... which of course was met by the expected contempt from those amongst us who more and more we're beginning to believe that “sailing the Southern Oceans in a sailing ship” was to be a cruise liner style journey only suddenly (to our great joy) to find things….. a little bit more uncomfortable to say the least! Idiots !!!

We on the other hand don't mind the lack of hot water and showers for a few days as those amongst us that had already began to conserve water by showering already smelled.... what did we care :)

We had a DVD player and big screen TV on board so most of the time we spent down stairs or in the deckhouse, however, as one of the guys pointed out, the deck house was beginning to look like a geriatric hospital more and more each day and since the faces in there weren't grinning when you entered... it wasn't a happy place! People started to hide in places around the ship and Steph and I found ourselves either outside (for as long as possible) or hiding in the library to get away from the incessant moaning of the other passengers!

This trip is doing one thing though.... it's teaching us restraint and patience that's for sure !

Dolphins.... "Comet Dolphins" as one of the guys on board labeled them ! They were fantastic and funnily enough, with a bit of persistence you were always rewarded with some fantastic sight by the ocean every now and again!

They were Hourglass dolphins, however, it was pitch black and the only way we could see them diving in and out of the Bow waves, was because they lit up the water as they shot through it as Phosphorescent algae and small squids etc. would light up the water as the dolphins passed through. It was beautiful and they continued to do this for a half hour or so. They'd disappear and then suddenly three or four comet trails would appear in the water and shoot across the bow.... Beautiful isn't the word for this and those of us that remained on watch were certainly grateful for the show we'd been privileged enough to just witness!

The Wind is beginning to pick up over the past few hours and the captain has asked that we are particularly vigilant during our watches as there are "Bergy Bits" and "Growlers" (Small chunks of Iceberg that don't show up on the radar as the majority of the iceberg is under water) in the water....

DSC07213.jpg

We were heading through Iceberg Alley and having completed our watch successfully navigating through the icebergs we handed over to the other watch and went to bed.

CRASH !!!!

What the Feck !!!!

We've hit something. I was jolted awake as something hit the ship and I heard the remnants of whatever it was creaking down the side of the ship.... What was happening!

I lay awake in bed hearing people scurrying above board and listening to the shouts going on.... however... they weren't to panicked and the ship hadn't stopped or anything.... We must have hit something I thought and went back to sleep.

We had hit a Growler and luckily for us we'd hit it head on (Which is the strongest part of the ship!)

The watch hadn't seen it approaching and by the time they did... it was too late and we hit it square on!

A Small hole was punctured in the bow which was quickly patched up by the engineer and some mastic or whatever and other than that (Having had one of the crew hanging of the Bow sprit with a torch) everything looked fine.

Morning broke and it was then that the damage was identified....

We'd lost our lady.... our head cast... Our wooden cast of the lady that was fixed to the front of the ship! This was not a good omen at all I thought and we still have about 30 days sailing ahead of us!

That night a few of us made a small offering to Neptune and hopefully he'll watch after us better than he had our lady :)

The next two days sailing were pretty uneventful. The winds picked up... icebergs started to get larger but further dispersed and the watch numbers started to increase again as people began to rediscover their sea legs (or the weather got warmer.... hmmm... I know which one I thought)

DSC07075.jpg

Finally land is spotted and we sail through between Bird Island and the mainland of South Georgia. We've made it !!!

Steph found this quote in the book she's reading whilst we're under sail.....

"Passengers get sea sick, grow quarrelsome, don't sleep at night, do not enjoy themselves much as a general thing; - No, I never go as a passenger" - Herman Melville's "Moby Dick"

I can honestly say that Both Steph and I (especially Steph) are not passengers any more and as each days sailing progresses we both are becoming more confident and more helpful to the permanent crew.... It's a good thing and the journey is far more enjoyable as a result!

_MG_6395__.._Gockel.jpg

Posted by Taffski 03:09 Archived in Antarctica Tagged boating Comments (0)

The Antarctic Peninsula

The South Shetlands to the Peninsula and our furthest point South !

snow -1 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We've made it.... or so we think....

We've actually hit the South Shetland islands which are to the North East of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Weather worked up a storm last night, but luckily we'd managed to get some shelter(although we dragged anchor twice and had to move further along the coast. Klaas the Captain seems to know what he's doing... which is a great thing !

In the morning the weather has totally changed and having not known whether we'd get to land on the islands last night, it's a definite by the morning.

We jump into one of the three small boats (well... two Zodiacs and "Sloopy"... a nice little wooden boat) We're given our life jackets and head over the water to the Island.

We're greeted by a Weddell seal, sunbathing on the beach and by Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins! It's our first "One on One" encounter with these little ice butlers... however.. they're great and totally fearless.... it's as if they've not seen anyone ever before and curiously start trying to eat our boots etc. They're great little animals and I think both Steph and I have instantly fallen in love with the little buggers!

The Photo sessions had begun and all of us simply sat about and took hundreds of photo's of the Penguins (something which was to be repeated numerous times during this trip!)

We were then invited to go for a walk to the other side of the island so in single file we were asked to follow one another to limit the damage we did to the mosses etc. on the island (This was an IAATO regulation... antarctica treaty thingy which regulates where people can and can't go etc. for the greater good of the continent.. quite a good thing I thought...anyway.....)

You've to remember that the number of people going to antarctica each year is increasing and as a result the mosses and lichens that haven't had any human impact for thousands of years are suddenly being trampled all over and so to limit the damage done we were asked to remain in line and watch where we were standing!

Not a difficult request you would think eh ????

OK... Old People... pretty much like young kids...

i.e. tell someone old that they can't do something.... they instantly (much like a teenager) want to go and do it !

Some of the older generation seemed to think that they'd fought a war or something to protect these lands and therefore it was their god given right to go and trample where they wanted and wonder wherever they wanted !

feckin Idiots !!!

I felt really sorry for Tully (our guide) as he had to cope with a load of geriatrics (although there was only about 10 of them) wondering off into the hills and over the streams and mosses etc. as if in search the swimming pool or hotel where they'd find the cocoon which would keep them young forever!

Or of course they could just be a bunch of stubborn old gimmers that needed strapping together with a rope. (In my opinion shouldn't even have been allowed on a sailing ship around Antarctica.... however... that's just my opinion!) Over the next 50 days or so I'm sure both Steph and I are going to be pushed to our limits by some of the people on the ship! Anyway... I digress.

Anyway, after gathering up the geriatrics we were able to walk to the other side of the island and were greeted with a great panoramic view of the Surrounding islands and also a massive Elephant Seal and his harem sun bathing on the beach! This guy was massive and kept an eye on us always! He'd often open his mouth to gesture to us that he could quite easily fit my entire body in his gob.... the gesture seemed to work as even the Geriatric brigade toed the line and avoided wandering too close to him!

We were also being reminded by the odd fur seal that we were on their territory every now and again as they often ran up to you growling like a dog... however... much like a "shit-su" or whatever little yappy dogs you like... their bark was worse than their bite... although a few people did get close to getting bitten over the course of the trip.... best to wave your arms in the air, however, we've heard since that growling back at them seems to work best !

The following day we passed along the Bransfield strait and towards Trinity island. It was early morning, the sun was shining and the sea and snow looked amazing.

We were suddenly joined by a family of Hump Back Whales. They were fantastic to say the least !

DSC06610.jpg

This time of the year they would have been getting ready to start their migration Northwards and would have been full from feeding on krill in the Rich water of Antarctica for the previous five months !

So with a full stomach... they were very playful to say the least !

The stayed with us for about an hour and began to surf the side of the ship on their sides with their fins out of the water.... we even got a couple of breaches from them off the stern of the ship... they kept passing under the ship and eye popped loads of times as if curious as to why this old vessel was here.... It was brilliant and definitely one of the most amazing whale experiences of our lives so far!

After and hour the captain wanted to move on... however, the whales stayed with us for another 20 minutes until eventually they got bored and wandered off! Absolutely Brilliant!

After we arrived, We went for a Zodiac trip through the Ice Berg Graveyard and enjoyed the fauna, however, it was cold and even with all our layers, thermals and two pairs of gloves we were still absolutely frozen by the time we got back on board ! Hot chocolate was waiting for us.... damn this ship's good !

The following day we went along the Graham Passage. It was a cold morning and Steph and I were on watch.. The sea was pretty still and blue and the snow and ice was beautiful.

This place is amazing! You hear people talking about the place... however... and I know it's corny.... but you're never quite ready until you actually see it up close. It should be a definate MUST GO place on everyone's list of places to go... regardless of the price!

That afternoon the winds picked up to a force 8... which even in the Graham passage (Which is relatively sheltered) meant the seas got rough and sails had to be furled.... I was up the masts, of course, in the howling wind.... really loving this sailing malarky!

Not sure Steph's too keen on me hanging on ropes in force 8 winds... however... I think she's getting used to it! Well I'm sure she will by the time we arrive in Cape Town.

DSC06857.jpg

We arrived in Neko Bay the following day. It was time to step on the Continent proper!

With my Welsh Flag in my bag and Steph's little red car... we were ready to hit the continent. We jumped into the Zodiac and headed for shore. En Route as we navigated through the almost totally ice filled shoreline we realized that a couple of Leopard seals had decided to stalk the zodiacs. We were chased all the way to the shore and the crew had to use the boat oars to shoo the seals if they got too close. This was highly amusing and fortunately.. they never had to actually beat a seal off the zodiac or more importantly... the seal never got to the Zodiac ;)

We made it !!!

"I proclaim this land New North Wales"

DSC06942.jpg

The obligatory flag and car photos were taken and we then looked around and saw how beautiful this place was. It was covered in Snow... with a smattering of rocks and Gentoos. The Gentoos were youngsters and with the Leopard seals hanging around they were all out of the water... luckily for them ! It must be hard though !

We took some great photos of the Glaciers that just seemed to hang about on the edge of the continent (although we did get a few avalanches every now and again)

We were amongst the last to leave and fortunately, the leopard seals had decided to move off on the way back!

DSC06933.jpg

We then moved off to Paradise harbour further along the coast line and saw some Minke whales on the way down. We set most of the sails and since Europa was looking so good, Steph and I went into the Bowsprit (The Netting at the front of the boat) and took some pictures of the Ship. She looked beautiful with her white sails matching the whiteness of pretty much everything else around apart from the bright Turquoise of the Ocean... which wasn't that far below us ! It was brilliant!

Once at Paradise Harbour (Although the Paradise a few of the guys were expecting... i.e. a beer laden, palm tree lined jaxuzzi filled with naked women wasn't anywhere to be found) it was still a beautiful harbor! We went on a quick zodiac tour and then anchored up for the night!

We arrived at Port Lockroy which is where we were expecting to send postcards from and get our passports stamped... It was closed !

DSC07108.jpg

Well... not exactly closed, but the guys who were normally at the station had already left for the winter... so we let ourselves in and decided to leave our postcards there until they returned... in six months time... which meant our postcards won't arrive anywhere soon.... some time in December was the suggested arrival date ! :)

It's a small British Antarctic base, but it was like a museum in that nearly everything there was antiquated in some way or another from expeditions or research over the past 100 years or so. There were old food stores from the 40's (we reckoned) however, a few favourites were spotted (Notably Horlicks, Spam and Tate and Lyle Syrup)

Once again we were greeted by the smell of Gentoo Penguins and their associated "Odour" on the island. Later in the day we moved to the other side of the island to see some blue eyed Shags and the bones of a few whales that had been washed up onto the beach.

We returned from our little hike to the other side of the island and were given a panoramic view of some fantastic cliffs surrounding the base called the Seven Sisters. They were sprinkled with Fresh Snow and just peeped out underneath the forming cloud. It was yet another Beautiful Landscape and Fauna Show from the Peninsula.

This was to be our furthest point south and before we headed back up North... a drink was given to us by the captain on the deck outside, to celebrate this fact and the ships horn was sounded to signal this to one and all.

DSC06754.jpg

The Horn on the Ship is absolutely massive and Tremendously load.... so much so that when we passed a Russian cruise liner... her horn sounded more like a bicycle bell's tinkle, while ours was more of a Concorde breaking the Sound barrier Noise (Well not quite.... but you get what I mean !) This made us men beam with pride.... the Women thought we were being childish... however.... it's always nicer if your horn's bigger than the other guys....... um............ anyway..........

DSC07179.jpg

OK.... North here we come and we've got.... hmm.... quite a few days still to go! At least it gets warmer from here on (or so we thought!)

Posted by Taffski 07:30 Archived in Antarctica Tagged boating Comments (0)

En Route to Antarctica

Into the Drake Passage

snow 1 °C

We were woken up at 4am !!!! Ouch !!! This trip was going to be a bit more testing than we'd thought!

EVERYONE... and I mean EVERYONE on the previous watch had gotten Sea Sick as we'd passed the shelter of the Beagle Channel and had hit the rather more testing waters of the Drake Passage.

Now to say that this is one of the most testing and dangerous stretches if water in the world is somewhat of a slight understatement to say the least! God knows how many ships have sunk rounding Cape Horn. however, we were heading south and were pretty much against the wind and the waves and the currents! So the Smooth sailing of the previous night was no more and Whilst bouncing around on deck we managed to survive the 4 hours with neither Steph nor I being sick.... I was happy and quite enjoying the Experience! We had a nice sunrise and Even though it was 8am... headed back to our beds for some sleep (Steph was starting to feel the effects of the Sea and once downstairs again... started to feel a bit worse... however... she Braved through it and we were woken up at 2pm for our next watch! This was a shorter 2 hour watch for the afternoons so that this would mean that each watch would rotate four hours each day... so no single watch would have the same watch as the previous night! i.e. we were due to go on at 12am til 4am tonight! Ouch.... During the course of the journey this watch was regularly referred to as any of the following rather colourful terms... The "Dog", "Bitch", "Bastard", "Twat" or even the "C**t" watch.... which sort of gives you the right idea as to which of the watches turned out to be the least preferred :)

So We were woken by the remnants of the previous watch (which was now down to 4 remaining members standing... from an initial 12!) Trainees and even crew were falling fast and as we moved into day 3... we assumed our positions around our vessel.

The purpose of the watch system was to ensure that we avoided other ships... icebergs or any other potential hazards in the water, whilst also being available to assist with the Sailing when the Captain or the first mate saw fit to change something. We soon found out that Captain Klaas (Or Captain Nemo as I'd nicknamed him on accounts of his long white beard and hair and obligatory ear ring!) was fonder of changing things than the First Mate. Sails were tweaked... lines tightened... lessons were (apparently) being learned by the trainees as the night progressed.

Steph fell asleep in the Deck house at 2am and by 4am we were all shattered and headed straight to our bunks!

Days began to melt into one another and we found ourselves quickly living by the watches and that life onboard quickly changed to become entirely meal and watch orientated.

Breakfast 7 - 9am
Lunch 1pm
Tea 7pm

These were the times where you would see people other than those on your watch and it quickly became apparent that a few of our fellow passengers were "apparently" suffering from sea sickness... however... it seemed strange to me how some of the afflicted stayed in their bunks at night, got up in the day and still managed to eat at meal times.....
hmmmmmm.........
Some of our watch were also ill...
however, they managed to drag themselves upstairs to get some fresh air and, even though they weren't well, they bravely managed to survive through each consecutive watch with green faces!

Opinions of people were starting to change at this point and Steph and I found ourselves changing our opinions of people who on the first two days we'd thought were "nice". Once again.... first impressions don't tell you Shite!

We'll give the others the benefit of the doubt Steph and I thought and continued on our watches...

It was now Day 4 and Steph and I (I have to admit) were starting to feel the toll of the Drake.

Engines were now being used as the Wind had swung around and we weren't making good progress. (You can check the Europa's web site for exact Way points etc. if you're interested!)

Anyway, I was in the deckhouse and I decided I'd try to read for a bit...... whoops.... mistake..... five minutes in and I ran outside for a "minor" Vom! Only a minor one... however a Vom all the same ! Feck ! I'd been sick and Steph Hadn't.... so much for never having been sea sick before..... damn !!!! I was well pissed off and Steph knew it.... so I was wound up about it (deservedly I know) but it seemed to help Steph (who also wasn't feeling well)

What a nice guy I am.... ;)

Why the hell are we on this trip..... ????

I'm sure a few of our fellow passengers were thinking this.... it was windy... we weren't moving much in the water (at one point we had to pull all the sails down as we were almost going backwards when the wind suddenly changed), it was getting colder by the hour (it was down to about 2 degrees Centigrade by now and getting colder!), The waft of sick buckets wafted downstairs and there seemed to be no end in sight! Even some of the full time crew members were taking ill and peoples personalities (or lack therewith) were starting to surface.

Whales....... We spot Whales..... a whole pod of them..... and they're big whales too !!!!

About 6 massive Fin Whales swam along side us en route to Antarctica also it seemed ! They were huge animals (The Second Largest Whale after the Blue) and they effortlessly sailed past us... as we were still on engines.

The Whales were soon followed by a pod of hourglass dolphins playing in the bow wave of the ship. These were beautiful animals and so far have to be some of the most beautiful dolphins I've seen!

They're black and white (much like Killer Whales) and the white is in the form of hourglass shaped stripes passing down their bodies. They were brilliant animals and had nearly everyone (that was still alive) hanging on the bow of the ship to get the perfect Dolphin shot... The Water was a Brilliant Blue and the Black and White of the dolphins combined with the White of the bow waves were brilliant.

This was definitely what everyone needed as a quick reminder as to why we were all on this journey and helped gee up some of those that were beginning to question the trip.

Steph and I were happy however, as those "sickies" downstairs missed all the fun... ha, Ha !!!!

It was now day 5 and the Dolphin and whale sightings had been pretty much the only thing that had happened on the journey so far (apart from going backwards in the night when the wind changed again... which was fun!)

There was plenty of Sail handling and we were given a map of the ropes (or Lines) on board so we'd have a better idea as to which lines to pull to either set or remove a certain sail!

I'm enjoying this ! The whole Sailor thing is really quite appealing and both Steph and I (or so she says!) are enjoying the Sailing aspect of the journey at the moment.... god knows there's a lot more to come in the next month or so so we might as well get used to it!

I went up the Mast today to go and "Furl" (Wrap up) a sail to the Yard arm.. (The horizontal bit of wood on the mast)

OK.... we've been sailing for a while and the sailing terms are already becoming part of our vocabulary! This is what a Training Sailing ship should be about ! Learning how to sail and certainly Steph and I are determined to get learning whilst we're here! For those of you that aren't familiar with sailing terms etc... I'll try and put in "Idiots Guide phrasing" for you every now and again (as above) ;)

So I'm hanging over the raging Drake passage, stood on a rope with a harness and my hands being the only thing stopping me falling to certain death.... I'm loving Sailing ! This is fun !!! However, the cold is now starting to set in and it starts to snow whilst I'm on the yard arm.... Gloves are a requirement.

However, pulling and tying knots in ropes whilst dangling over the sea aren't really conducive to wearing gloves... so I take mine off and my fingers are freezing.... After 15 minutes I finish my one bit of a single sail... my first furl and Colin (A crew member) and I manage to drag ourselves down.... I'm the first of the trainees to go up the mast and furl and I'm ecstatic... I have a funny feeling as the weather and the conditions get better the remainder of the trainees will follow suit... so I decide to help the crew out as often as possible whilst the conditions are somewhat more testing !!! :)

We finish our watch and it's back to bed.... we're shattered ! /Land shouldn't be far now though as the Captain tells us that it should be the following day and Tjalling (pronounced Tully, who was our resident naturalist/guide come Entertainment manager) started a competition for a bottle of wine to see who would spot land first and also at what time.... Enthused since we were on the 4-8am watch and it was likely our watch could be the first to spot land... we went to bed after tea ready for land.... LAND..... Goddam LAND !!!!! seems like a year ago since we left and it's only 6 feckin days !!!!

PS... we've not been allowed to Shower for the past 4 days as the weathers too rough !!! we smell nice... NOT ! Steph's about ready to flip but other than that we're managing well (ish) ;)

Posted by Taffski 05:45 Archived in Antarctica Tagged boating Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 33) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 »