Day 12 February 3rd
At our 4:15 AM wake up call, Ali, our expedition leader, announced we wouldn’t be going to Prion Island. The wind was too strong and the zodiacs would be in danger. We were to kayak at our 2nd stop of the day and that wasn’t going to happen either. 🙁
On to plan B which was to move on to visit one of the former whaling stations at Stromness Harbour. Again the winds were gusting and we weren’t going to be able to land so the captain took the ship close to Leith Harbour and we were hoping the winds might die down over by Stromness.
“Over at Leith Harbour, the Captain maneuvered the ship as close as possible to give us a view of the old whaling station. With the sun out and blue skies it was an eerie but beautiful scene. This was the largest whaling station in South Georgia, operating for over 60 years. Established by the Christian Salvesen Company, it was given the name Leith after the Scottish hometown harbor of Salvesen.” (from our Voyage Journal)
After a ship cruise at Leith, we headed back around the corner to Stromness.
We were hoping to be able to finally step foot on South Georgia. The wind was still gusting but had settled enough for the expedition team to send out a scout boat.
The expedition team quickly readied themselves. Conditions were suitable so off to shore we went! After three days being on the boat we were SO excited to have some time off of the boat on land, even if it was windy!
The sun stayed out but winds continued to blow. Katabatic gusts (wind caused by downward motion of cool air usually coming down the slopes of a mountain or glacier) would occasionally force everyone to stand their ground. All around us were young fur seal pups. We walked around them, still trying to give them as much space as possible or be growled at.
We enjoyed watching the seals rest and play. And we also enjoyed the King penguins that were around.
Stromness also had the remnants of a whaling station.
After visiting Stromness, it was time for lunch. While at lunch, the ship headed to our next stop which was called Hercules Bay. At this bay we are to see Macaroni penguins. We pulled into the bay but the weather wasn’t on our side. The wind was too strong for the zodiacs. Needless to say we were disappointed. As we left the bay and out in open water, we saw quite a few macaroni penguins swimming in the water and passed a glacier.
Just after we had taken off all of our waterproof gear, an announcement was made that we were heading back to our first stop, Prion Island, that we couldn’t visit early this morning because of the wind!
Prion Island was beautiful. We climbed to see the Wandering albatross nests and birds.
Only 50 of us could be on the island at a time! The nests were at the end of the boardwalk.
We also saw many fur seals all around us. Quite a few were tucked into the tussock grass!
The beach where we got off the zodiac was filled with King and Magellanic penguins as well as fur seals. It was something to experience.
After our time was up for visiting Prion Island, we boarded our zodiac and we had a zodiac cruise around the island.