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Monday, February 22, 2010

Waiting for South Georgia

Waiting for South Georgia
I thought today would be the day that our eyes would gaze towards the horizon and South Georgia would show itself, but alas it will not be today. Unfortunately large tabular icebergs and smaller bergs kept us company throughout the night so it was crucial for us to slow our speed to a mere 2 knots. Although the large bergs showed up vividly on the radar, its the smaller chunks that have broken away from the larger bergs we were concerned about. These rock-like sculptures sit low in the water and are hard to see as the steep southern seas camouflage these potentially dangerous obstacles.

The following morning, as soon as it was light our designated watches were spent outside scanning the horizon and navigating through the slalom course of tabulars. The seas remained heavy for most of the day and as I stood in the cockpit, secured by a harness I couldn't help but feel completely humbled by the enormous seas surrounding me, The railings dipped heavily in the water on the port side as the swell pitched high to the sky and sent us swinging like a pendulum. And then, amongst these mountains of ocean are the birds that utilize the wind and turbulent waters. The smallest petrel of all, the Wilson's Storm Petrel dip in and out of the vigorous seas making the most of the food being made available for them to feast on. Although they are the size of a sparrow, they are at home here, their warm blooded bodies completely adapted to this frigid environment and the control they have while in flight and in these strong wind amazes me.
In the early afternoon I awoke to a pleasing feeling. The boat was not heaving to and fro like it had been for 5 days. Instead it was an unfamiliar steady rocking, almost predictable. I put on my layers, prepared my camera and went out on deck to enjoy this rare occasion. It was the Golden hour and today this hour perfectly matched its title. Icebergs were lit up like lanterns against a crimson sky, including a tabular that stretched 8 miles in length and 1 mile wide. Imagine how much of that ice is buried beneath the sea, knowing that when you see an iceberg you are only seeing a mere 10%, the majority of it is underwater. Dense masses of grey cloud lingered in the sky towards the south, and with the purity of the whitest iceberg in the foreground, made for a dramatic spectacle bringing the best out of the colour grey.

It's 9.15pm and the engine has just been turned off. It looks like we are staying put for the night, it being too dangerous to continue, running blind through the night. We will simply drift with the current in an area clear of icebergs and watch the radar closely. With only 50 miles to go until we reach the shores of South Georgia, tomorrow will be the day. “Tomorrow tomorrow, we love ya tomorrow, it's only a day away”

And so we continue to be tested with our patience and tolerance of natures curious ways. We are constantly reminded that nature is in charge and we are simply bending, flexing and moving when and how she allows. Perhaps this is a crucial process for me, preparing me for what is to come. When one attempts to maneuver along a coastline by small vessel, and share the space when onshore with wildlife on an island in the middle of the southern ocean completely exposed to the worst possible weather systems, one can only approach it with the understanding that only a small aspect of this adventure is in our hands. Without a doubt I have to accept that although I have diligently planned every step of this expedition and prepared for numerous situations, the final outcome is out of my very own hands. I will accept all gifts of nature when they are offered, as well as the setbacks, delays and obstacles. I will continue on and moved forward as though this was the way it was meant to be from the very beginning. It is what it is and I am here.

Here is a special thought and a hello to all you sailors out there. I admire you for your courage, your patience, your ability to sustain long, cramped days in a rocking and rolling vessel. My respect for you has multiplied and I envy you just a little less ;)

3 comments:

Chappers said...

Hi Hails, Your nearly there!! Met with TVNZ yesterday. They are keen to interview you pre-paddle departure. They need 2 things. Ability to talk with you and some video footage. Get back to me and let me know as soon as you can. Would be great to get some coverage of your trip in the media down here too.

hugs Paul

Kerry said...

Wow, the time has finally come! Hoping the second half of the journey is everything you want it to be and more than what you expected it to be. Safe kayaking, happy videoing and don't let anything deter you from your path. Love to you.
Kerry

Kevin and Maureen said...

Hayley, Great to read your updates and your thoughts.

As we circumnavigated by kayak a much teenier-weenier, milder island (Newcastle!) yesterday, we saluted you and your grand adventure.
Love Kevin and Maureen

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