Antarctica – January 29, 2018…Stromness, South Georgia Island…Rainy expedition…Bad weather on its way!!!

At lunch today, one of the chefs was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors.  It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking.

It’s Monday, and we recently returned from our first expedition of the day.  Later today, around 5:30 pm, we’re heading out for a second expedition returning around 7:30 pm. 

Today’s view from the aft of the ship as we prepared to sail away from Grytvenik (more on that tomorrow).

Dinner will be late tonight, but we don’t mind. Dining is of less importance to us on this cruise, and although the food is fine, it isn’t as high caliber as we may have expected. 

It’s heartwarming to see how close they hang to one another.

The schedule seems to change daily due to weather conditions, and to date, we’ve stopped at two unexpected locations and moved around the disembarking hours on many occasions.

Macaroni Penguins in Stromness, South Georgia, are known for the pasta-like plumage atop their heads.

Regardless of where we land with the Zodiac boats, we’re sharing the stories and photos in the order of the expeditions to maintain the flow of activities. Still, not necessarily on the specific day, they occur. 

Two Macaroni Penguins were keeping watch. Too cute!

When not out to sea, we make two expeditions each day, ending up with an entirely different experience on each occasion. 

Fur Seals enjoying a swim in the sea, hoping to find lunch.

With several sea days upcoming in the next week, we should be close to “caught up” by the end of the cruise, depending on the Wi-Fi connection, which so far has been much better than we’d expected. 

There were many of this and last year’s offspring on the beach.

If we aren’t caught up, we’ll continue to post during the two days we’ll be back in Buenos Aires between February 8th and February 10th. It should all work well. 

Seals on the beach close to the old ruins of buildings from the whaling days of decades past.

If we aren’t done, we will continue to complete the cruise photos and stories once we arrive in South Africa for the required number of days to complete the cruise photos. 

We were warned to stay away from the larger males.  They can be nasty if they’re crowded and feel they or the pups are in danger.
Although, once we arrive in “the bush,” a whole new world of photos and stories will be stockpiling that surely we’ll be anxious to share. What an excellent problem to have facing us!
King Penguins with fluffed up feathers after time spent in the cold sea.

The biggest issue has had the time to prepare the posts when we just so darned busy, heading out on the Zodiac boats twice a day along with dining and socializing, which now has become a regular part of our routine, having found wonderful people as part of our select group.

Mating calls coupled with sounds of pure joy by King Penguins.

That’s how it goes when cruising, meeting people that share some common interests with whom we spend most of our free time. Need I say? It’s quite fun. 

King Penguins are second in size to Emperor Penguins, whom we won’t see this time of year. They mate later in the summer season, long after we’ll be gone.

As for the cruise, we’re enjoying the luxury ship and the superb service. We find that the ship’s only 194 passengers are extra pleasant in its small size.  

We were free to wander about the grass with the many seals and birds.

There are no long queues for meals and only short waiting times to disembark for activities, get beverages, or any other attention provided by the well-trained and sophisticated staff.

Again, as shown in prior posts, not all survive the harsh conditions and possible predators.

For us, this cruise wasn’t about luxurious cruising. It is entirely about the opportunity to see this magical place. Only so many cruise lines offer the chance to get off the ship via Zodiac boats to explore the various points of interest up close and personal. 

Many cruise lines offer a “cruising only” Antarctica experience which wasn’t all-encompassing and exceptional for our desires. So, we bit the bullet and paid the “big bucks” to sail on Ponant Le Soleal for the comprehensive Antarctic adventure. 

The landscape is littered with remnants of the whaling history in the area.

Often, I find myself practically squealing with delight over the sights before our eyes, wondering how did we get so lucky to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Propellers from an era long past.

Today’s photos are from yesterday afternoon’s visit to Stromness, South Georgia, another stunning area of this majestic island filled with wildlife numbers beyond our wildest imagination. Here’s a bit of information about Stromness from this site:

“Stromness is a former whaling station on the northern coast of South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. It was the destination of Ernest Shackleton‘s rescue journey in 1916.

The name Stromness comes from the town of that name in Orkney, Scotland. It is the central of three harbours on the west side of Stromness Bay, South Georgia. The term “Fridtjof Nansen” or Nansen appeared for this harbour on some early charts, but since about 1920, the name Stromness has been consistently used.

In 1907 a “floating factory” was erected in Stromness Harbour, the land station being built in 1912. From 1912 until 1931, Stromness operated as a whaling station, the first manager of which was Petter Sørlle. In 1931 it was converted into a ship repair yard with a machine shop and a foundry. It remained operational until 1961, when the site was abandoned.

In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia at King Haakon Bay after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in the 22-foot (6.7 m) lifeboat James Caird. Shackleton, along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley, trekked across South Georgia’s mountainous and glaciated interior to reach help on the populated northern shore of the island.

All men were rescued from Elephant Island. After 36 hours of crossing the interior, they arrived at the Stromness administration center, which also was the home of the Norwegian whaling station’s manager. This building has been dubbed the “Villa at Stromness” because it represents relative luxury compared to its surroundings.

In the decades following its closure, Stromness has been subject to damage from the elements, and many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins. However, recent efforts have been made to restore the “Villa” and clean up debris from the rest of the site to make it safe for visitors. Outside of Stromness is a small whalers’ cemetery with 14 grave markers.”

A Zodiac boat, after dropping us off back at the ship it heads out to collect more passengers after the expedition ends.

Now, as I finish today’s post, mid-afternoon, hopefully, able to upload it within the next hour or so, we’re back out to sea and will share this morning’s visit to one of my favorite spots so far, Grytvenik, South Georgia. I can’t wait to share those stunning photos!

Thanks, Honey! This is one of the disinfecting solutions we must use to clean our ship-provided rubber boots to clean off any debris that may contaminate other areas.  There are also rectangular buckets with long handles scrub brushes we use to scrub the boots before walking through this solution.  Tom continually cleanses my boots for me.

Tom just returned from an informational update on what is yet to come, to discover we’re in for some seriously rough seas (over 16 meters, 53.49 feet), and our itinerary is changing. We’re fast heading south to Antarctica. Suppose you don’t hear from us for a few days, no worries. Bad weather could impact our satellite service.

Enjoy your day, dear readers, and thank you for sharing this adventure with us.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2017:

Much to our pleasure, we engaged in a lengthy conversation with Miffy and Don, the owners and creators of this unique product, Smoked Salt Tasmania. For more photos of the fair, please click here. They may be reached at Facebook: Smoked Salt Tasmania.