Having bade farewell to our hosts and new found friends from the South Georgia community, all 36 of them, a quick a check of the Grib files (wind charts broken down into 3 hour blocks, great for sailing/mountaineering – downright dull for anything else) showed us that the winds would prove less than favourable for our passage west! We very quickly found the uncooperative weather and were almost instantly into motor sailing with only the Staysail up and engine on, speed was about 4 Knots however at times over the ground it was less than this, it was going to take a while to get round that was for sure.
We eventually arrived in the Bay of Isles and the Salisbury Plain area; yes one is actually a bay full of islands and yes the other is a very wide flat area! The wild life here is breath taking in its scale and almost feral to some extent; survival of the fittest was evident and the beach had plenty of evidence of skeletons and decomposing carcases that were in fact not the fittest! It was the normal line up of suspects, Fur Seals, Petrels, King Penguins and Elephant Seals, but on a grand scale. At one end of the beach I, Josh and Donald decided to take a slightly longer walk (in the wrong direction from the RV point with the Yacht) to a King Penguin colony with chicks in transition which must have numbered in the tens of thousands and stretched for miles, literally with no more than 6 inches between them, something you get to see on National Geographic but very few get to see or experience standing in this for real. The other thing you don’t get from National Geographic is the amount of Penguin S(%t, its bright green (same as if you have drunk a Cyalume when losing at spoof), stinks and is directly related in quantity to the amount of Penguins per metre squared i.e. a lot!
With the rugged sheer backdrop of the mountains and the hanging white snow fields and glaciers it is an experience none of us will ever forget. For me personally I am almost a computer on overload, yes I accept I am an old computer with minimal RAM! However the overload of new experiences, memories and information is of such intensity it is almost surreal and it does take time to acknowledge that it’s both real and that you are centre and forefront in it. It was once said that an Adventure is a cold wet miserable thing which will make you late for dinner; well we have definitely been late for dinner a few times!
First thing this morning we have now set sail on our last leg of this amazing adventure and making our way back to the Falklands some 900nm through the Southern Ocean. There is potentially some pretty ugly and gnarly stormy weather out there; however Steven (Skipper and ice guide) sees an opportunity to shoot high and stay on the periphery of this. The large can of Rhubarb our friends in South Georgia gave us as a going away present in normal circumstances would raise a few eyebrows, on a ship in the Southern Ocean with the threat of Scurvy (obviously not, we have lemons!) this is a luxury; a hot crumble laced with a tot of rum should soften the effects of long watches, raise the men’s (and Emily’s, unless Rhubarb is somehow not vegetarian!) morale. So here’s to watch on stop on rain, wind and fair (but big) Oceans for the next few days.