We were woken at about 2.30am by the noise and pitching of the boat. Apparently, it was too rough and windy for the Zodiacs where we had wanted to land and we went on to Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay.
Another lenticular cloud above South Georgia's rugged mountains.
Our group, the Rockhoppers, had to disembark at 5am. We landed at an idyllic spot where there were many elephant seals, a few fur seals, king penguins and gentoos. We saw a number of baby elephant seals, one month old and already abandoned by their mothers after 3 weeks of feeding. They showed no aggression at all and were just lying around on the beach or practising swimming in the stream.
They were delightful to watch. Some of the adjacent adults were massive and all were making loud "burping" noises. After looking at the king penguins, we went slightly uphill to see the gentoo colony.
On the ground was a bright green moss which was very old and we had to avoid stepping on it. It was difficult also to avoid stepping or even sitting on the elephant seals, as they were very well camouflaged and looked like rocks. Their undersides are a delicate pale grey colour.
One of the giant elephant seals lying on the sandy beach, looking just like a rock.
As we returned to the shore to climb into the Zodiac, there was this seal snuggled up against the crew's rucksacks!
We boarded our Zodiac as the rain started and it became quite heavy as we approached the ship.
We had a much-needed breakfast with Sheena and John. We heard that poor Foster is in the infirmary with a kidney stone. We had a rest after breakfast as we were pretty tired. It was worth it though to visit such a beautiful and peaceful place. We arrived at Gold Harbour, where the winds were becoming very strong, and the Captain had to cancel the trip ashore for the Chinstrap group, as it was too dangerous to board the Zodiacs. We were due to go later.
We were at anchor at the mouth of the harbour, surrounded by icebergs. Tim and I went on to the front deck just as the extremely fierce winds were starting to blow. They are katabatic winds which come off the glaciers. We couldn't turn the corners of the deck without assistance and, with winds of up to 130 km/hour, we found it hard just to stand upright!
Robin Aiello leaning into the wind!
The sunshine was lovely however and we took many iceberg photos. The largest one we saw was about 2 miles long.
You could see how much the glaciers have retreated by the amount of bare rock showing. In this photo, originally there was one large glacier coming down the mountain to the sea. Now, the glacier is split in two by an exposed wall of rock.
We saw many sea birds, including prions and snow petrels. We were pleased to hear that Foster is feeling better. The Captain decided against going into Drygalski Fjord as planned, as this iceberg was blocking the entrance. We might have just squeezed in, but, if the iceberg shifted, we could have been stuck in the fjord. We headed off towards Antarctica and Monroe Island, reluctantly saying goodbye to wonderful South Georgia.
We went up on the aft deck and looked at the giant tabular icebergs that were stuck fast on the south-eastern tip of South Georgia. The ship was leaning so much to port that I thought I would fall off my chair
It was a wonderful sight. There were icebergs everywhere and the Captain had to keep altering course to avoid them.
We had tea in the lounge with Ray, John, Jeanette and Jane. We were later joined by Foster who has been discharged from the infirmary and told to drink more liquids. It became so rough that 2 of the waitresses fell over and many cups and plates went crashing to the floor as we were trying to enjoy our tea and scones. There were some very big jolts when we had to hold on to everything on the table. It was extremely hard to walk around.
Tim was tired and went to our cabin for a rest while I attended the briefing. It felt very rough up in the theatre on deck 6. We had short talks from Victoria (whaling), Chris (king penguins), Rob (elephant seals) and Juan (climate and currents). Robin West praised Captain Peter for navigating through so many icebergs in such a calm and relaxed manner. The Captain has decided to slow down in order to make it more comfortable for us, but it is still quite rough. The waves were huge with a 5/6 metre swell. We have changed course as there is an 8-mile long iceberg in our way! We stayed in our suite to watch films and order dinner from room service as Tim was tired.