Voyage Journal 7106 Day 10


Day 10 - March 12, 2011 - Today’s Port: Gold Harbour & Cooper Bay

By Juan Carlos Restrepo

Co-ordinates: 54˚46.8`S, 35˚48.4’W
Weather: Overcast

Air Temperature: 10ºC
Sea Temperature: 4ºC

Gold Harbour is a place that always deserves a “crack of dawn” start. The rocks and the Bertrab glacier take on a golden hue right at sunrise, a sight to behold. We launched Zodiacs this morning at 6 am, and I am glad we did because we did get for a while the sun shining on those ice framed cliffs and even with a rainbow!

It was truly magnificent, the large king penguin colony was lit with that warm sunrise light, as it was coming alive with the start of the new day. The fur seals were starting their day of play and about a dozen large elephant seal bulls were hauled out right next to the landing site, sleeping and taking it easy as they patiently go through their annual catastrophic molt. Lots of pale-faced sheathbills, giant petrels, wilson’s storm petrels, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, kelp gulls, skuas, and a few gentoos completed the picture. We had sunny conditions for a good while and then a bit of rain, on and off, no big deal.

I had a ball sitting in my Zodiac watching the hundreds of Antarctic fur seals play around my boat in the water, graciously doing pirouettes and acrobatics with an incredible agility. Those guys are so much fun to watch that I today decided they are my favorite animal. I just can’t get enough of them, they have so much character and are always so revved up that they become an endless source of entertainment.

After 3 hours ashore taking in the views, the sounds and the smells, we left Gold Harbour and headed over to Cooper Bay. As we sailed down the coast, our Executive Chef Marcus hosted a traditional Dutch brunch. A delicious spread of typical Dutch gastronomy with names I cannot pronounce and a Pea soup to die for…

At 11:30 we were in Cooper Bay getting ready for a 12h00 disembarkation for a Zodiac tour around this beautiful corner in the south end of South Georgia. The reason we came here is not only the natural beauty of the place but also the fact that we could see two species of penguins that we had not yet seen on this trip. And we did. Despite the rain we all had good looks at Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins, plus the usual suspects, Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals, and tons of other animals. All this wildlife show was framed in the grand landscape of Cooper Bay. Today was definitely a Hollywood ending for this leg of this voyage.

We were all aboard at 1:30 and the Prince Albert II sailed northeast towards Tristan da Cunha, where we hope to arrive after 4 days at sea. As the afternoon went on, the conditions started to deteriorate a bit and the wind and swell picked up. We had 40 knots of wind and 5 meters swell all afternoon. At 5 pm guest lecturer David Guggenheim presented his lecture “New Green is Blue” a most informative talk on the troubles that the world’s oceans are facing.

At 18:45 the expedition team hosted a recap and briefing. The weather unfortunately does not look too promising for the next few days, but not too bad either. We’ll have to wait and see...