Alpine uplands above Maiviken

Maiviken Cove was our next stop.  We headed there only after leaving our anchor behind in the foul ground of Stromness Harbour. Heroic efforts to free it had begun at first light, although the beautiful sunrise was largely unappreciated by the hard-working crew. In the end the chain was pulled … Continue reading

Reindeer and spaceships on the Stromness headland

The zodiacs prepared to land on a small beach across the bay from the Stromness whaling station. Over the steep headland lay Leith whaling station, where Europa would re-anchor and collect us. The kelp is thick along these rocks, giving us a challenge to get close enough in to land. The … Continue reading

Fortuna Bay: my rucksack goes hiking

Three coastal indentations east of the Bay of Islands lies Fortuna Bay, a deep cove in the cliffs surrounded by ice-covered peaks capped with perfect lenticular clouds. Here we spent the night after the excitements of Salisbury Plain. Alone on anchor watch, I saw the sky lighten in the slow, … Continue reading

Working on the highway

All colonies have a highway (or several) to the sea, like this one at Salisbury Plain. They use this route to the sea and it is important not to disrupt it: penguins have right of way on their commute. The chinstraps, like those at Half Moon Bay, like their rocky, … Continue reading

Right Whale Bay

Elsehul was stunning: our next stop at Right Whale Bay is extraordinary. After a foggy start the cloud lifts in the bay leaving dark cloud across the north eastern horizon against which Europa lies at rest on calm water. We land stern first in surge onto a shelving black beach … Continue reading

Elsehul

The deep inlet of Elsehul, its steep sides coated in tussac grass, was out introduction to the wild, extraordinary beautify of South Georgia. The water is shallow enough for kelp forests to wave in the choppy surface for the fur seals to play in, and home to fish, birds and … Continue reading

Penguin island: supermarket of the South Shetlands

There were several Penguin Islands scattered around the world in the days of sealing and whaling and long distance exploration by sail. The ship would turn up and take away thousands of eggs, and slaughter, salt down and stow hundreds of penguins. Calling a landfall Penguin Island was liking planting … Continue reading

My furthest south

Our aim for 20 March was to see if we could get as far south as Snow Hill Island where Nordenskjold had spent two winters with the 1903-4 Swedish scientific exploration. Even Jordi was hopeful: he has spent seven years trying and failing to get there and maybe the lack … Continue reading

Entering the Weddell Sea: the ice thickens

We had a quiet night at Brown Bluff before heaving anchor at 0600 to head south into the Weddell Sea, where Shackleton became caught in the ice over winter. Europa passed through the narrow Fridtjof Sound: it is not always passable for ice but that morning the bergs were far … Continue reading