Nov 4 - Stanley, KEP and Bird Island
Noon Position - Lat: 53° 59.6' S Long: 037° 59.41' W
Location - Northern End of Bird Sound, between Bird Island & South Georgia
Total Distance Travelled: 7812.0 Nm from Immingham, UK
Air Temp: -0.2°C
Sea Temp: 2.0°C
The story so far...
When we last spoke we were heading towards Stanley in the Falkland Islands at the end of our southern voyage. This would mark the beginning of the Antarctic season in earnest. The plan was for us to be in Stanley for just a couple of days to refuel, discharge and rearrange the cargo, carry out boat training and embark the personnel for our next voyage. However, some extra people needed to join us at short notice, this delayed our departure until the next flight arrived on Monday afternoon. The stay in Stanley was as pleasant as ever and the extra time allowed everyone to at least stretch their legs ashore after almost four weeks at sea. The weather wasn't at its best, with most days we experienced all four seasons. Though it was to be expected for spring time here in this part of the southern hemisphere.
The picture below shows JCR alongside with the mist and rain showers obscuring the hills behind the town, whilst during the first day of boat training blue skies were experienced. These you can see in the picture below right where Doug Leask (3rd Officer) and Chris Dare (Deck Cadet) do some refreshing of the boating operations. The person with their feet up pretending to be a sleep is Hamish Gibson (Purser) seeing what everyone else gets up to.
One of the places quite close to Stanley often visited is Gypsy Cove, which is about forty-five minutes walk from the ship. Its chief attraction being the colony of Magellanic penguins that nest in the hillside above the beach. It is a lovely spot even if the weather is quite mixed as it was on Sunday afternoon when the pictures below were taken. The coast is rocky in nature intermixed with large expanses of white sand. Unfortunately some of them are still off limits after the 1982 conflict due to the possible presence of mines. The brown vegetation that can be seen in the foreground of the picture below left is kelp, a form of seaweed which grows in abundance in many of the areas we visit. It seems to love the water jets that some of our boats are powered by making working the boat quite interesting at times as if you're not careful it can get sucked in and blocks the jets, which can be quite chilly work to clear away. I mentioned the penguins at Gypsy Cove, they were a bit scarce during our visit with just a few being spotted as they peered out of their burrows. Hopefully in the enlarged picture you'll be able to make out the one below.
Monday evening came and time to sail. It was a lovely clear evening as we made our way to sea with the usual viewing gallery gathered on the Monkey Island (above the bridge) to watch our exit. As we left the sun was setting behind the hills and the local supply vessel Tamar was just returning to Stanley after calling at the outlying settlements and farms around the islands.
South Georgia - King Edward Point
Our voyage to South Georgia was initially marked with a further set of engine trials to ensure we where in good order for the seas we might face in the days ahead. This confirmed; a course was set towards South Georgia. The course wasn't quite a straight line with slight variations to enable us to expanded the detailed map of the seabed we are producing with our Swath bathymetry system, this allows us to be productive even when just travelling between stations. On the approaches to South Georgia we collected two devices listening for whale song in an area known as Shag Rocks. These are underwater microphones (hydrophones) which are anchored to the seabed and record the sounds that they hear. This is then analysed to see what, if any, whales have been in the vicinity over the last few months.
Our first port of call was King Edward Point in Cumberland Bay. This is the site of a fishery research station that BAS operates on behalf of the South Georgia government. For more details and to read their diaries click here - King Edward Point & KEP Diary. Being a fisheries station the local fishery patrol vessel brought in their new personnel some weeks ago, but our job was to provide the annual supplies and to refuel the station. You'll gather from the pictures below that there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground at this time of year and the weather was a little blustery. During our visit some of the King Penguins were ashore moulting. At this time they cannot go to sea to feed, but remain ashore to suffer the vagaries of the weather. Those shown below were just outside the whaling museum at Grytviken which is just around the cove from King Edward Point. They have their backs to us as there was a howling wind blowing down from the mountains behind us, making conditions a little unpleasant. Needless to say the Elephant Seal sleeping just a few metres away was totally unbothered by the conditions.
ing Edward Point in the snow. Click to enlarge (SAW)
Our work at King Edward Point complete for the moment it was an overnight steam along the north coast of South Georgia to the far western end and Bird Island. This is where BAS has another research station dedicated to its own science. To find out more and read their diaries click on the following links: - Bird Island & Bird Island Diary. It is here at Bird Island that you find us this Sunday carrying out the station's resupply, so I'll hopefully say more next week once it is complete. For a taster I've included a few pictures from the first trip ashore.