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

Icebergs great and small

Giant icebergs range a long way from home, from their roaring, growling birth. Pushed from glaciers out to float, maybe part of an ice shelf before splitting into massive ice cubes walking across the horizon in dazzling summer light, silent amongst the drifting brash ice. They travel together at first, … Continue reading

#penguinrights and habitat corpus: #antarcticalphabet

    Let us sound the battle-cry for #penguinrights. Suppose penguins took us humans to court for destroying their habitat? Suppose they won?  I am not talking only of animal rights, or even land rights, but earth rights. Penguin power is habitat corpus: the battle to protect an ecosystem – … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: O is for oil

Oil drips down the trypots and the rigs. It oozes in tarpits, welling up from the ground, the black gold of fantasy released by water under pressure, the raw hydraulics of fracking. The revolution relies on the stuff; prosperity and peace rise with carbon dioxide released into air and ocean. … 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

St Andrew’s Bay: lots of pictures of #penguincity

    St Andrew’s Bay was a picturefest, so this post is mostly decorative too. I wrote at the time that Jordi warned us of a river crossing and potential weather changes. The morning, though, was spectacular, the hills and glaciers all around the bay standing out against the sky … 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

Macaroni and more

There was plenty more of South Georgia to come, not least the exotic Macaroni penguin. On leaving Grytviken we dropped anchor briefly at Cobbler’s Cove. Several crew took off on a there-and-back again hike to see a colony of Macaroni penguins, so named for their spray of yellow feathers. The … Continue reading

Whaling HQ in Antarctica: whales, steam and solar

Larsen founded Grytviken as a whaling station, the first land-based such factory in the southern hemisphere. The bay, with its rusting industry and neat white buildings, the scattered bones and indolent fur seals, is an integral part of the whaling era when the Americas, Europe and Asia depended on the … Continue reading

South Georgia Heritage Trust: habitat and ambition

Before disembarking at Grytviken, the Director of the South Georgia Heritage Trust came on board to talk about the challenges and successes of habitat restoration on the island. They’ve got a seriously impressive record. I’ve mentioned the reindeer, but of course they’re fairly big and slow-moving. Once the decision had … Continue reading