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

M is for migration and life on Mars: #AntarcticAlphabet

Penguin chicks lie among the pebbles. Still nearly complete, some of them, beaks agape and wings extended as if the raw spine might haul itself up and zombie-walk to the sea. Remnants are arranged into memento mori, reminiscent of Victorian child shrines kept by loving mothers. Scraps of bone and feather … 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

Bird Sound: arrival and biosecurity

The archipelago of South Georgia includes the study site of Bird Island, lying just off the north-western tip of the main island. Between them lies a rocky, narrow channel known as Bird sound. The detailed chart shows that the deeper water (the white bits) reduces to a narrow channel between … Continue reading

Whalers’ Bay, Deception Island

The flooded caldera of Deception Island is known as Port Lockroy, and just inside is the wide, black arc of Whalers’ Bay. Going ashore in 35 knot wind, buffeted by hail and grit was both challenging and satisfying. I wrote then about the sensory overload: the crunch of gritty snow, … Continue reading

Fort Point: fit for Westeros

After Yankee Harbour we travelled the six miles to Fort Point on the south easterly side of Greenwich Island. It’s obviously named after its rocks, and it wouldn’t be out of place guarding a strategic river crossing in the Seven Kingdoms.  The rocks are piled up in basalt slabs from … Continue reading

Arrival in Antarctica

I finally recovered from seasickness enough to stand my watch our very last night in the Drake. It was bitterly cold and pitch dark at at 1900 when I went on deck. A big swell was still running, so Europa was pitching and bouncing around. It is hard to take … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: F is for fur

Fur sealers were first. Cook sent back reports of the millions of seals to be found in South Georgia and immediately they came. When Larson began industrial whaling he named his base Grytviken, Pot Cove, for the old cauldrons littering the beach, remnants of the seals melted for blubber. Mostly, … Continue reading