South Georgia – Day 1

Please note, not all of these pictures were taken by me. There were a lot of really excellent photographers on the trip, and some of them very kindly shared their best photos. Where possible I have attributed the picture taker, if it wasn’t me or Maaike.

South Georgia Landings

2 days cruising to South Georgia. 2 days of very calm waters – this was to be a hallmark of our trip – practically flat calm (relatively speaking) everywhere we went.

We passed by Shag Rocks on the way, an isolated set of six prominent, jagged peaked islands which are approximately 150 million years old. They’re home to, thousands of blue- eyed shags along with various other sea bird species. On some trips they don’t even bother as the visibility etc. just isn’t good enough.

Shag Rocks

Then onwards to South Georgia. Along the way our days were filled with lectures, and a mandatory briefing on cleaning & sterilising our gear. You have to ensure (as far as possible) that all contaminants are removed before arrival on shore. This also means between sites even on the same island on the same day. Them’s the rules. We also took on an observer from the South Georgia Government (Simon – great guy) who was observing the practices on board.

First stop – Grytviken. It lies within King Edward Cove, a sheltered harbour tucked along the western shore of Cumberland East Bay. Originally established as a whaling station in 1904, Grytviken is currently home to South Georgia‚Äôs Government Officers, along with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) personnel who manage the museum, gift shop & post office. It’s also where Ernest Shackleton is buried. One of the staff members was Jonathan Shackleton, a cousin of Ernest Shackletons.. he gave lots of talks and family history along the way, including words by the grave. If you haven’t read any histories of the Shackleton trip, I suggest picking one up on The Endurance trip, heck of a story.

Anyway, some pictures.
Maaike and I with whiskeyAlbotross in flight06-DSC_0101technically on his left hand sideFur Sealshedding kingpiper at GrytvikenBack of Shackletons headstoneGrytvikenElephant seal at GrytvikenGrytviken churchGrytvikenGrytvikenGrytviken churchGrytviken - Simon Bottomley - Elephant Seal (pup)Grytviken - Simon Bottomley - Elephant Seal DetailGrytviken - Simon Bottomley - Antarctic Tern

The church was quite the institution, creating a sense of community. There was a library there, and most meetings / performances etc. would all be held there.

GrytvikenGrytviken library

There was also an excellent little museum (and staff who gave a run down on the workings of the whaling station). The boat here is a replica of the one Tom Creen used to sail Shackleton & Co across the seas from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Also a good place to send postcards.

postyTom Creens boat

The scale of the slaughter in these places was immense. Rivers of blood, the smell must have been insane. Want to know what one of the biggest selling items in the on-site shop was?! …. cologne. Not because the men wanted to smell nice for eachother, but because alcohol was banned and they could get a little bit out of the cologne. Good times.

In the afternoon we cruised around to Godthul. Godthul is situated 9km east of Cumberland Bay on the eastern shores of Barff Peninsula. There was a hiking option, which Maaike and I joined, so had a very nice hike across South Georgia to Godthul.

Walk to GodthulWalk to GodthulWalk to GodthulWalk to GodthulWalk to Godthul

We were encouraged to walk single file where possible, I think to minimise the impact on the moss (grows very very slowly). I thought you’d be better off spreading out rather than really killing one area, but anyway. You can still see the tracks that the reindeer (all exterminated now) made, and those were from years ago. In fact, South Georgia is a pest-eradication exemplar. They’ve nuked the reindeer, and now have (using NZ heli pilots) dropped rat bait everywhere and they think that they have killed off those too.. time will tell.

Anyway, great intro to South Georgia..

9 responses to “South Georgia – Day 1

  1. Myra

    Great photos! And great beard :-)

    I’m so looking forward to getting one of those postcards……….

  2. Michelle

    Awesome! Rather a little jealous.

  3. Eoin Kelly

    Super stuff Paddy, I’ll be following this blog with a great sense of jealousy! Great writing and great pictures.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Eoin! I’ll make sure to write about the terrible bits too, take the edge off any jealousy ;) see you in Dublin for a pint come summer hopefully!

      • Eoin Kelly

        If you make it back give us a shout, be great to catch up. Might even be able to organise a babysitter and bring Lesley too.

        Looking forward to the terrible bits ;-)

  4. Aunty Mary

    Fabulous photos. Very moved to see Shackleton’s tombstone. I have read all about the amazing trip and the arrival at Elephant Island and so on. Just amazing scenery too.

  5. mum

    Super pic of the amorous seals! Was that your’s? Love the one of your hike to Godthul…with Lawrence of Arabia’s headgear! What an experience!


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