Kuli South Georgia Expedition

Oct 24

Back to the Falklands

Published at 13:49
Dispatch created from email

Antarctic aficionados seem to reflect on their journeys down South with a mix of exhilaration and exasperation. The region is exhilarating because its untamed wilderness challenges the human spirit to break new boundaries. It is exasperating because its lethal cold and brass-knuckle winds frequently make boundary-breaking a task that only the foolhardy would undertake.

Exhilaration has prompted explorers to write a veritable library of South Polar literature. Exasperation has inspired titles such as The Worst Journey in the World, Hell with a Capital H, and Berserk in the Antarctic (opening sentence: "This is suicide!").

As we wrap up our voyage to South Georgia, members of our team are feeling the same mix of sentiments. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We sailed through exquisite aquamarine ice floes in waters flanked by snow-capped mountains; saw fur seals fighting with reindeer; watched Elephant seals give birth to pups; met penguins that seem almost human as they waddle on their way; and drilled ice cores from water that froze when Shakespeare was still writing his plays.

At the same time, our plans were constantly delayed, altered or foiled by mercurial weather. On Monday, we made our last stop at the Bay of Isles, hoping to photograph its huge populations of penguins and albatross. Four of our team were ferried ashore in a motorized dinghy, but the frigid wind was so overpowering that they couldn't take their cameras out of their pockets. They returned, freezing and drenched with seawater. To quote Alex the father, the experience ranked 9.5 out of 10 on the suck-o-meter.

Inclement weather also forced Paul to abandon plans to drill in Possession Bay.

We are now on Day 2 of our weeklong journey back to the Falklands, sailing at a 20- to 25-degree tilt towards the port side. Think that is not so bad? Try pouring a glass of orange juice at a constantly shifting tilt. It is a talent mastered by airline stewardesses, but few others.

We will be surrounded by nothing but 360 degrees of gun-metal water for at least the next four days. It is as if our boat were an amoeba at the center point of a U.S. quarter coin. For those who are into sailing, we are doing 8-9 knots in 22-knot wind, with full mainsail and two foresails. For those who are not into sailing, that's pretty good speed.

So we pop our seasickness pills, read books, watch DVDs on our laptops, take naps and try to keep our footing on board the Pelagic Australis. Separation from loved ones is really beginning to wear on some of us.

We will update as soon as events warrant a new dispatch. Until then, we will be thinking fond thoughts of you all!
  • Name: Somewhere in the southern ocean
  • Elevation: 0 m
  • Latitude: 51° 3460South
  • Longitude: 44° 300West


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