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Category Archives: Grytviken
Traces of Shackleton
After several days in South Georgia loosing ourselves amidst the vibrant wildlife that has to be seen to be believed we have had a couple of days at sea dodging heavy ice that has successfully fended off our attempts to land on the South Orkney Islands and kept us on a merry chase through rafts of ice until we finally manoeuvred our way to the bleak rocky shores of Elephant Island.
While on South Georgia we visited the grave of Earnest Shackleton and his right hand man Frank Wild who was interred next to the boss just days before we arrived at Grytviken. Strangely enough old Frank ended up falling off the face of the planet after being a central figure in the exploration of the Southern continent. In fact he ended up as a local barfly in South Africa and his ashes were recently discovered in an undistinguished grave …. When they were finally recognised whey were sent all the way to South Georgia so that Shackleton’s right hand man could finally rest beside the man who he always revered and who he had helped to make such a distinguished figure in the history of exploration.
Today we launched the zodiacs in heavy swell off the coast of Point Wild and visited the site where Shackleton’s crew spent over four months waiting for the “boss” to return and save them from their bleak predicament. Frank Wild was in charge of this desperate crew surviving on the few penguins that hadn’t fled in the wake of the advancing ice. To see this barren shore really places one in the midst of these poor beleaguered sailors.
For us it was merely a quick visit – to these men it was a small spit of land that stood between them and a cold hungry death. These men had a huge faith in their leader who had left them to sail on a seemingly impossible journey on a small wooden boat through the most dangerous seas in the world to seek securer for his stranded men. One can only imagine the anguish of these men went through but we know that their long months of hardship were rewarded by the site of the “boss” rowing back to them to relieve them from their drastic predicament.
In our case we head further south towards the Antarctic Sound after leaving Point Wild. The ease with which we move around the Antarctic region would have seemed incredible to these early explorers, but we cannot travel far without acknowledging these brave men who drew the first maps of this lost icy continent.
Spent the day in South Georgia between Fortuna Bay, Stromness and Grytviken. Walked the last part of Shakleton’s momentous hike over the island, lost myself amidst hordes of fur seals on the beaches and spent hours watching baby elephant seals lounge on the beach and play amongst themselves. Was actually a long day with the weather showing it’s teeth with gale force winds and droving snow, but at the end of it all I am left with a huge grin and keep replaying moments of sheer joy as the throngs of wildlife native to this spectacular island played out their life within arm’s reach as I sat mesmerized on the beach. A few close encounters with angry fur seals showed me natures teeth (nothing like the charge of 200kg of angry seal to remind you that nature should be treated with respect), but all up I am left with a feeling of awe and a sorrow that the day has drawn to a close …then again, we have two more days in this paradise
Posted in Fortuna Bay, Grytviken, South Georgia Island, Stromness Tagged Antarctic Fur Seal, Elephant Seal Leave a comment
This is the life
Not much better than the life style here right now. It starts early with a run in the zodiacs onto a surging beach with strong wind making things interesting. Then we throw the anchor out, hop ashore and spend the first few hours of the day lounging on the beach with little fur seal pups nibbling on our ankles and king penguins wandering by. A quick wander over the coastal plateau to take in the green grass and wilderness then the first hike sets out to retrace the last stage of Shackletons walk over the jagged interior of South Georgia where the winds burn your skin and the views burns an image of beauty into your eyes that is hard to forget. But this in only the start! Next stop is Myviken where we land beside an old sealers cave for another long walk past lakes and over saddles and ridgesuntil we make our way to Grytviken – yet another relic station from the days of sealing and whaling that is now the administrative centre of this isolated island with a handful of dedicated staff putting up with one the most spectacular offices in the world! Now I’ve had time to wind down in a sauna and will shortly be cracking open a cold beer on the back deck as we celebrate another superb day with a BBQ overlooking a bay filled with playful seal. Just fantastic!