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Cheers and thanks for your interest. Hayley
Friday, March 19, 2010
From my cabin onboard the Prince Albert II, Salisbury Plain is only a few hundred meters away and at 6.30am this morning we were on shore in an area I did not get to visit when I paddled here last week. It was an unexpected bonus to be here again and much was gained from our time ashore.
Dressed in our Kokatat paddling drysuits Beth-Anne and I stood out like Giant King penguins, however it was the practical attire we required. I spent nearly an hour wading in the surf trying to capture the Kings launching into the surf or what was more entertaining was them coming ashore, riding the hip-high breaking waves as they made for land. Salisbury Plain is the home for over 150 thousand nesting pairs of Kings Penguins and where we landed is the more population concentrated portion of the rookery. At this time of year it is not only one of the most popular landings to make, it is also the most muckiest. Again, another reason for wearing our drysuits. KOKATAT – Penguin proof, poo proof and waterproof!
Adults and nearly fledged one year olds, stood in muddy puddles, vocalizing to eachother in a chorus of trumpet tunes. If we looked closely amongst the crowds of Kings, some adults have eggs perched on their upper feet, under their brooding patch. As well in this active rookery newly born chicks not even a month hold were hidden beneath the adults, popping their heads out to receive the gift of regurgitated krill. They will remain here, on land for just under a year as they develop in size and waterproof feathering.
We boarded the Prince Albert II yesterday afternoon after a reluctant goodbye to Keri, Brian and Magnus. For Beth-Anne who had been onboard working with the Northanger crew full-time, it was like separating a kid from a candy store. We, as a team had bonded and it felt very strange to be departing with our mountain range of luggage, boarding another ship and letting go of the ties of a vessel and group of individuals who had experienced so much together.
Radio calls from the staff at KEP base came through with fond farewells and hopes to meet again. And finally once the kayaks were safely onboard it was time for Beth-Anne and I to face reality - to be taken to our 'owners suite' cabin on deck 7!!!!! The owners cabin!!!!! The fanciest cabin onboard this delightful ship!!! It has a walk-in wardrobe with dressing gowns for each of us, it has a three compartment bathroom with a bath, it has sky-lights above our beds so the southern cross can guide us into a restful sleep!!!! We, donned in our thermal underwear, outdoorsey-hair styles and bloated sports bags sheepishly moved on to the ship which will be our home for the next 8 days.
Before dinner during the scheduled recap and briefing, passengers were introduced to the new faces now seen about the ship. In the next day or two I will do a presentation onboard, telling the tale of the entire South Georgia Expedition Saga from start to finish. This will be a good opportunity to begin piecing together the story that I look forward to sharing with many others in the future.
After a deliciously divine '5 course' dinner we found ourselves immediately horizontal burying our heads in the fluffiest pillows and falling to sleep after exchanging comments and expressions of glee and appreciation for this opportunity to be homeward bound and in such comfort. The ship was soon lurching into offshore swell and Beth-Anne and I grinned as our stomachs, for once, did not blurch.
We have a single day of excursions here in South Georgia whilst onboard the Prince Albert II. This afternoon we will visit Prion Island. How incredibly fitting to have the opportunity to land again and be with the Wanderers before heading out to sea, bound for Stanley. More soon, it's time for us to dress and head to Prion Island.