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Cheers and thanks for your interest. Hayley
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
ARRIVAL in SOUTH GEORGIA!!!
It was a quiet night as we drifted with the current, engine-less in an area clear of icebergs. There were too many icebergs for us to maneuver around when making way so we decided to drift until light. We were joined by a group of dolphins whom circumnavigated our boat frequently throughout the night, their entire bodies brilliantly lit up by phosphorescence. These erratic patches of light along the water seemed even brighter than if there was moonlight shining on the surface. The company was welcome and I felt their presence as a symbol of the good-will to come.
My 0400 watch came early yet I felt eager to be out on deck, wanting to spend more time outside in the company of the numerous birds which had recently joined us. These included a few Wanderers and Black Browed Albatross and some Antarctic petrels which flitted in and out of the waves nearby our boat. We must be getting closer to land with all this action, I thought to myself. Much earlier while on watch, I was briefly joined by a fleeting pod of 5 Fin or Sei whales. I frantically banged on the hatch to announce the arrival to everyone below, but no one responded, and so I indulged in this delight completely alone. They passed from starboard to port side right across our bow at a speed which made them literally porpoise, exposing their graceful bodies as they lunged out of the water. They soon disappeared in the distance but my smile remained. I felt as though they were the first of many gifts to come during our time around the shores of South Georgia. Fur seals were also showing up, their curious heads poking above the water, taking a good long look at this new intruder, then diving beneath the surface to their underwater world.
Shortly after 0700 I noticed a darker area within the mass of thick clouds that sat heavily in the distance. “Land, Land”, I shouted, ecstatic to have South Georgia in our sights. We had to look closely to make out the subtle contours of mountainous peaks but it was land most definitely. More birds were flying around now and I had my first sighting of the handsome Grey-headed Albatross. Their stunning yellow and black striped beak could even be recognised.
At this time we were less than 35 nautical miles away from our intended anchorage in a sheltered bay called Eleshul. Unfortunately strong NE, E winds are forcasted and to avoid being caught out in such winds we have opted to pull in to safety rather than battle on to Grytviken. Already South Georgia is demonstrating who is boss in this glorious place and a boss we chose not to question. Every move we make needs to be thought through, there is little time to undo a mistake or an error of judgement, caution is the only way to work in these waters and on this land.
It's nice to have everybody up and about, sipping tea together with excitement, all eager to arrive after 7 days of heaving seas and strong wind. Although I have arrived to South Georgia numerous times over the years while working on the ships, this feels more hard-earned which then brings on the feeling of relief and gratitude. Suddenly South Georgia has a new face, the mountains seem more dramatic, the beaches even more welcoming, the wildlife a refreshing scene and the entirety of it brings on a more pressing urge to explore all of its parts. And I am here to do just that....wahooooo!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, I feel utterly privileged to be here and the excitement is building inside of me. I feel like a little kid busting to wake my parents at Christmas time to start opening the gifts that have been teasing and tormenting me during the weeks of waiting for this day to arrive. South Georgia is a gift and I am about to open it's insides and take a good long look in the precious heart of it all. I am so overwhelmingly thankful to all those who have helped me get here. I appreciate all of you and will do my best to bring South Georgia and all its wonders to you with eager eyes, an open heart and adventurous spirit in my plight to paddle for the Albatross.