#AntarcticAlphabet: R is for rope

R is for rope. The rhythm of coils passed hand to hand, or turned upon the deck in line with the lay. Wrapped round and hung, ready to hand, on pins and cleats, belayed and standing-by for work. Rope is part of the trinity of sail and hull harnessing the … Continue reading

What happens next?

Fear and silence When I started this blog, I said it was about fear. My fears around mast climbing and seasickness and writing honestly. So why have I been so quiet recently? Why not write about the wide horizons and storms and excitements? Has life just got in the way? … Continue reading

Taking the helm: seizing the wheel

A friend asked the other day what ‘being on watch’ meant. I talked about the looking out for ice, the rope pulling and, of course, taking the helm. She was astonished. ‘You actually steer the ship?’ I nodded, enjoying the moment, and remembering how astonishing it was. The first glimpse of … Continue reading

Back on board: the South Atlantic

  I have found it hard to start writing the second half of the trip, the days crossing the South Atlantic from South Georgia to Cape Town. Life intervenes of course: work and friendships and other adventures. Plus procrastination and fear, the writer’s ever-present comrades. When I started I said this … Continue reading

Leaving the land

Waking in the morning, we found Macaroni penguins were not on our agenda. The wind had risen to nearly 30 knots and a big swell was running. Europa battled east for a little while but by 0830 it was clear we wouldn’t be able to land. Harko  turned our bows … Continue reading

Gold Harbour’s black sand and battling seals

Gold Harbour was overcast, the black sand and grey water reflecting the incoming clouds. Its hanging glaciers loomed above us, the bright ice dimmed as drizzle spattered for the first time in days. Our astonishing run of beautiful weather was ending and the swell was building.   The volcanic beach … Continue reading

Ocean Harbour: Bayard and birthdays

We anchored at Ocean Harbour, across the bay from the listing, rusting hulk of the Bayard. There’s a strange continuity for the old whaling ship was scuttled in 1911, the year Europa was launched half a world away in Hamburg. Now Europa visits and her crew crane their necks at … Continue reading

Party, party (and a bit of counting and buildings too)

    The night we spent anchored in the bay at Grytviken, Europa had a party. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has an important research base at King Edward Point (about a kilometer away around the bay, rather less than that in a zodiac), and some of the scientists and … Continue reading

Shackleton: leadership fit for purpose

  Sir Ernest Shackleton died in 1922 at Grytviken. He was back in the south to re-attempt the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Crossing but his heart finally failed as he stayed here preparing the expedition. He is buried in the tiny graveyard overlooking the bay, the biggest marker among the simple white … Continue reading

N is for Navigation: #AntarcticAlphabet

Navigation: The process or activity of accurately ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route The passage of ships (Oxford Dictionary) ‘The demanding test of landfall’ (David Lewis, We The Navigators) Once upon a time, in the old days, those imagined times when everything was better – yet somehow … Continue reading