Well, I think this is the most amazing place I’ve ever been in my life. My yesterday began with James shaking me awake from my bunk at 4 am saying “I know you only went to bed two hours ago but you really have to get up and see this sun-set”. I stumbled on deck to see the sun rising blood red over the jagged mountains of South Georgia. We were motoring by that time and the world had stopped rolling. The next time I woke (9 am this time) the sea was churning with jumping penguins and fur seals. It got very hard to leave the deck so I sent James to bed for a few hours and sat on deck for remaining four hours it took to drive Elinca round to Grytviken. I havn’t really got the words to describe this place but I’ll try. Its a bay, and at the head of it are steep snowy mountains. On either side are slightly lower hills and at the top of the left one is a huge fresh water lake that the settlement makes all its hydroelectric power from. The beach itself hoasts the twisted remains of the abandoned whaling station now cared for my the South Georgia Heritage Trust. The grim structures are now works of art in various stages of rust but some buildings have been restored such as the church and one that is now a museum containing a replica of the James Caird. The cemetery containing the bodies of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild (and about 70 sealers and whalers) is on the left below the lake. On a headland to the right is the King Edward Point science base and the memorial that Shackleton’s men erected for their dead leader before they continued their onward journey to Antarctica. Amongst all these man made structures, hidden in the grassy tusocks or strutting around proudly like they own the place are king penguins, fur seals, elephant seals, fledgling giant petrels and assorted other wildlife. On our walk up to see ‘the bosses’ grave we were chased by literally hundreds of fur seal pups who gambled along on their strange flippers chasing us with their little mouths open. They were a little bit worrying until we found out that if we just stopped and turned around to face them that was enough to remind them that we were 5 times their size. They then returned to playing in the water and fighting with each other. I think they are my favourite animal. They bark like dogs and have these mean little faces but when they run they look ridiculous. The king penguins are equally funny looking as they are half way through their moult from chick to adult. They have the colouring of Cadburys cream eggs and tufts of fluff sticking out from their otherwise sleek bodies. The elephant seals lay around in groups of 10-20 farting, snorting and stinking. They are often hidden behind the tussock grass and they explode gassily as you walk past making you jump.
It’s snowing most of the time but it doesn’t seem to matter much. Nick still went for a swim in the fresh water lake despite the cold.
Right now we’re off to walk from Grytviken to Maiviken before a BBQ with the government officers, the scientists and the guys who are helping to rebuild part of the old whaling station. Also joining us are a family from a German yacht moored next to us. Yes, yet again Elinca has managed to make a party within 24 hours of arrival at a new place. The guys at King Edward Point base offered us some of their Reindeer meat for our BBQ and this is possibly the last chance anyone will ever get to eat South Georgia reindeer meat. They shot the last one this season and I imagine that before long the meat will be all gone too. A historic evening it will be. The have also offered to open up their bonded stores… mmm British beer!
This does mean that our webcam moment may not occur but look anyway as we don’t know exactly where it is situated. We might be able to find somewhere where you can see us!
Off walking now,