Thursday, October 28, 2010

ON BOARD PLANCIUS: October 26, 2010


FROM: Debi Shearwater Cabin 602

OCTOBER 26, 2010

Howdy, Birders,

Early morning, we stopped in Fortuna Bay to pick up the mountaineering
parties' gear. Due to extremely good weather conditions, they were able
to complete the trek from Peggotty Bluff a full day early! A small group
of passengers disembarked in Fortuna Bay to join the mountaineers on
their final trek to Stromness Harbor. At Stromness the remains of the
whaling station are still present. However, our main reason for stopping
here was to pick up the hiking party. This is the whaling station where
Shackleton and his men arrived after their very long journey. The relief
he must have felt upon hearing the morning whistle call at the station
can only be imagined. Soon enough, we picked up our hikers and headed
for Cumberland Bay.

Grytviken and King Edward Point lie within King Edward Cove, a sheltered
harbor tucked between Hope Point and Hobart Rock on the eastern shore of
Cumberland Bay. The rusting ruins of the Grytviken whaling station,
South Georgia Museum, church, cemetery and British Antarctic Research
Station can all be found at this site. First, we called at the cemetery
where Sir Ernest Shackleton's grave can be found among others. We
toasted "The Boss," saving a bit of our whiskey to spill on his grave,
as is the tradition. Next, we headed for the post office, museum and
whaling station remains. Lightly falling snow gave a bit of a feel of
Antarctica to the scene. It was the first precipitation that we have had
on the voyage to date, as well as the coolest temperatures. A few
ANTARCTIC TERNS were about. One pair seems to be taking up nesting in
exactly the same spot as when we were last here in January 2010 on the
Shearwater Journeys' charter voyage.

The evening gave way to the traditional "Antarctic Barbecue." Our guests
included researchers and staff from the British Antarctic Survey base.
Don and I were fortunate enough to have Matt and Kelvin at our table.
Matt is the engineer who keeps the generator running at the base. Kelvin
is involved in the eradication of a noxious plant.

As the days go by, we begin to know more of our fellow travelers, a very
international group. The French make up about 40 passengers, but we also
have folks from Holland and Germany on board. This evening, Don reported
to me that several of the folks on board think that we are a
photographic team, working for National Geographic! We had a good laugh
over that. I guess they thought this because we are using walkie talkie
radios to communicate with each other, passing sighting reports back and
forth. On our second day at sea when the first Sooty Albatross showed
up, I kept calling Don on the radio, "Don, Don, this is Debi! Sooty
Albatross off the bow, close enough to shoot!" So, it soon became a joke
amongst the Dutch passengers: "Don, Don, Debi"!

Whales forever,
Debi Shearwater
On board Plancius; South Georgia Exclusive Voyage

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