February 12, 2023 – Grytviken, South Georgia Island
Seabourn Quest anchored off of King Edward Point, Cumberland Bay at 0700 in windy, but relatively calm conditions since the wind was from the west over the land, so no fetch. Clearance procedures to go ashore took some time, but the ship scored 100% on the biosecurity inspections.
We were taken ashore by zodiac and walked by the graveyard where Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild among others are buried. We could not enter the graveyard itself since the path was blocked by numerous Elephant Seas and hundreds of Southern Fur Seals and pups. Walking around the bay we passed by King Penguins, more fur seals, and the remnants of the whaling equipment, abandoned when the Norwegians stopped whaling in the 1960’s.
Many of the buildings have been torn down as part of asbestos abatement, but there were still plenty of photo opportunities. The church is in good shape. There is a museum, post office and gift shop. The museum includes a replica of the James Caird, the lifeboat that Shackleton and 5 others sailed to South Georgia from Elephant Island.
Whalers Church, Grytviken
Remnants of the whaling equipment
Replica of the James Caird
King Penguins, Grytviken
Fur Seal pup feeding
Fur Seal Pups
Following our visit to Grytviken, the captain sailed a short distance up the coast and entered Stromness Harbor, the site of another abandoned whaling station. This is the station that Shackleton arrived at with two others after the arduous trek from the other side of the island. Seabourn Quest remained anchored in the bay in front of the station until midnight.
February 13, 2023 – Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island
Early in the morning, in fog, we took up position 3000 feet off the beach landing site. At 0830 we began beach landings to see up to 500,000 King Penguins and hundreds of fur seals and pups nestled in the Tussock Grass. The beach landing was exciting and to walk among that many birds in a single colony stretching up into the hills and extending for miles along the beach was amazing, as was the noise and the smell. There were also giant petrels and Skuas looking for weak or small chicks to feast on. Also several Blue Eyed Shags flew by. Even with the low visibility and rain, it was truly stunning.
Patrick had hoped to kayak here, but his excursion was cancelled due to low visibility.
By 1700 everyone who wanted to go ashore had done so, so all the zodiacs were recovered and we set sail for the Falkland Islands, a distance of approximately 740 NM.
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