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Apr 19 - Goodbye to the South

Noon Position : lat 51 00 S, long 56 59 W

Course made good: 033 T

Air temperature @ noon today :  5.5 degrees C

Sea temperature @ noon today :  8.0 degrees C

Wind: Direction SW, Force 7

Last Call to King Edward Point

After such a wonderful time at Bird Island we were also lucky to arrive at KEP in glorious weather, although the wind was picking up a bit.  The work went well and a group af us were able to get the sunny day off and climb Mount Hodges, the pointy mountain that towers over the bay.  As we toiled up the hill more and more of the group had to turn back for various reasons until only four of us arrived at the top to breathtaking views.  Peter (Enderlein) tells me that this is his fifth climb up this mountain and the first time that he has had a view! The day was going so well that we kept on going and managed to continue along the ridge of Brown Mountain to make a good long day out.

Grytviken and KEP taken from Brown Mountain ridge  Grytviken and KEP taken from Brown Mountain ridge by P Enderlein.

Hiding from the gale at the top of Mount Hodges Three fearless travellers (well, Tom, Mark and the doc) hiding from the gale at the top of Mount Hodges, photo P Enderlein.

The 'clear-up' project at Grytviken is now finished.  A lot of the buildings, old tin rooves and rotton wood have been removed. and it is now open for people to explore.  There were plenty of people without the energy to climb hills who enjoyed the day exploring the remains of the whaling station.  These photos were taken by Pat Cooper.

Barracks Barracks

Blubber cookery Blubber cookery

Bone cookery Bone cookery

After such a good day we were surprised to return to the ship and find that we would be staying due to bad weather.  The forecast showed a big storm coming in with a central depression predicted as low as 928 mB.  Sure enough over the next day and night the weather became atrocious, heavy rain and strong winds even in the shelter of the harbour.  I was very glad not to be out at sea in such a storm, even though I gained my sealegs long ago I'm not sure they would have withstood this one!

Storm Perfect Storm!  This Dartcom image shows the storm surrounding KEP and the JCR,  if you enlarge the image then you will see the red dot that represents the ship in the eye of the storm.  Thanks to Charlie Waddicor for providing the image.

Jetty  In the aftermath you can see that the jetty was flooded.  The previous night both KEP and Bird Island had abnormally high tides with water reaching the buildings on both beaches.  Photo P. Cooper

Dawn  The next morning dawned bright and clear with much less wind and so we left at first light heading for Bird Island.  This was also last call for them, we picked up the last few people who were very worried that we had been caught in the weather and might leave them there all winter!

Goodbye to KEP  The final goodbye to those staying on at KEP. There are now nine people on the base and they are expecting their next visitors in about six weeks time when the fishing season starts.

Last seasons call to Stanley

From KEP amd Bird Island we headed for Stanley, a short but very lumpy trip away.  And now we have left Stanley for the last time this season.  There was the usual activity alongside, waste and containers were unloaded, fuel was taken onboard but very little cargo.  The scientists and staff from Bird Island, KEP and the ship left for Mount Pleasant Airport for the long flight home.  Of all the crew left, I am the only person not due to return in September so I had to visit all my favourite haunts.  Typically there was a brisk 'breeze' of 40 knots, it wouldn't be Stanley if the wind wasn't blowing.  Then on the Monday it started to snow, very unusual for the Falkland Islands.  By the time we left on tuesday morning there was a thick white blanket over the town and the hills, making for a picturesque trip out of Port William for my final time.

Mount Harriet, Tumbledown and the Twin Sisters  From left to right, Mount Harriet, Tumbledown and the Twin Sisters.  This is the familiar view when we are moored alongside at FIPASS, the snow is not very common however!

Stanley in the snow  Stanley in the snow.

Heading through the Narrows The end of the season as the ship heads out of the Narrows.


So here we are on our way north.  It feels good to be heading towards the sunshine and we are hoping for lots of sun on the way to our next destination, Antigua!  There is a geological science cruise to be done off the coast of Montserrat.  We shall pick up the scientists and equipment in St. Johns, Antigua and then head over towards Montserrat.  In the meantime we have a small sweepstake on when we will see the first flying fish and we are already planning the first barbecue on the aft deck.

I am very sad to be leaving Antarctica and the South.  I have many friends who are now settling in for the winter down there and I hope they all have a fantastic time.  I promise not to go on about fresh fruit and veg too much in my e-mails!