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Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13th Day 14 Running South to lash down in a protective bay

My alarm woke me just before light at 4.45am. By the time I was packed, gear stowed in my hatches and launching onto a calm sea, the early morning light gave evidence of the perfect day of paddling that awaited.

As I adjusted my seat and paddled a few strokes I noticed that my body was feeling strong and had finally adjusted to the load I was carrying. For the first time since setting out, I paddled in gentle rhythm to the rolling swell and the glassy mirrored seas made things feel all the more graceful.

In less than an hour I had reached the entrance to Right Whale Bay where the Northanger was at anchor. I tried too reach them on my handheld VHF radio and got through immediately. I hadn't received a weather text from them so I was eager to see if the winds were going to remain from the SW at a mere 10-15knots. So far it looked that way and I was thrilled to have a chance at least in reaching Elsehul or even going a tad further and slightly rounding the North Coast before having to turn back to go south.

The news was not good. Keri was nervous about the huge storm which is soon to be approaching our coast. Winds from the E, NE are expected to pick up in the early wee hours of tomorrow morning and potentially rise to 50 knots. She informed me that Eleshul would not be a wise anchorage to wait out the storm therefore we need to make our way back south to Prince Olav immediately. I was gutted. This was one of the very rare wind-free, glassy calm, perfect paddling days and I have to abort my northerly journey. Although I was so disappointed, I understood the reasons and accepted them, however before rendezvousing with them, I sat quietly in my kayak, drifting with the current, rising and falling with the swell. The odd Gentoo penguin came close and circumnavigated me, curious of my presence and a Black Browed Albatross glided silently above. I looked out longingly to the North and wondered what was beyond Nameless Point and Elsehul, what awaits my curious mind and
adventurous heart. I will find out not this day.
And then I had a fabulous idea!
Since we would be passing the Bay of Isles, I suggested we call King Edward Point and ask permission to land briefly on Prion Island since the weather has not co-operated with our previous attempts. Yay, we were granted permission therefore the day was salvaged, and what a delightful bonus it became.

Brian, Beth-Anne and I went ashore with cameras and binoculars in hands. Since this is visited by tourist ships and other yachts a very subtle boardwalk has been built which assists people keeping on the right trail, defines the areas they are allowed to walk and helps reduce erosion and keeps the wildlife at a distance. What a fabulous idea.

The first finger led us to a single adult sitting proudly on a nest. I sat mesmerized by it's pure white frame, curious how and where they put their 12 foot wings. There wings have 3 joints, therefore like origami, they fold, tuck and fold again. The second finger led us to a look-out which gave us a view of 7 other nesting sites with the backdrop of the entire Bay of Isles with Salisbury Plain in the distance. Our 2 hours ashore went quickly but in that time we watched a single Albatross walk awkwardly amongst the tussocks, going from nesting site to nesting site. At one stage it took a detour directly towards the boardwalk where Beth-Anne was standing. She encountered a close pass-by, and I caught it all on film, capturing Beth-Anne in absolute ecstasy.

We watched, we filmed and took in the mesmerizing beauty of South Georgia at its best. It literally took our breath away having the opportunity to land here, see these giant flying birds nestled so close to where we stood, imagining how many miles each of them had under their wings. I decided to do an audio broadcast from the highest point, to glance over the scene and share it with all those who are so faithfully following this journey.

We were soon due back to the boat and continued our way South to Prince Olav Harbor. Here we will lash down for the next two nights and for one of them I intend to camp. I might as well make the most of this opportunity and see if I can pitch my tent during a real gale and hope it holds for the night. By the morning of March 15th, we should have a weather window to then head south beyond Cumberland Sound. My wish is to be dropped off south and spend my last two days and nights camping and kayaking my way back to Grytviken where we will rendezvous with the Prince Albert II.

Stand by for storm updates


Anonymous said...

haha, although not quite as planned, sounds like a peerrfect day from start to finish! Sarah x

Peggy O said...

Just looked at the web cams on the South Georgia site. Good thing you made the most of yesterday!

Kerry said...

I can't wait to see the documentary and all the footage you have shot combined with the warm and descriptive language that will accompany them. Take care as you wait out the storm. Much love,

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