Feb 25th - Divine day in Elsehul
25 February 2010
Feb 25th - Divine day in Elsehul
Due to strong N, NE head winds we were forced to stay put in Elsehul for an entire day, but what a day it ended up being. For the first time in 10 years since coming to South Georgia I was able to selfishly indulge in a landing without the duties and responsibilities of being 'on the job'. Brian, Beth-Anne and myself went by zodiac ashore and instead of having to co-ordinate 100 passengers and 11 staff for a shore excursion, I was able to immediately begin to observe, film and enjoy the action-packed animal frenzy going before us. Fur seal pups by the hundreds thrashed and splashed in the shallows along the beach, a scattering of King penguins elegantly strutted their stuff amongst the wallowing Elephant seals that lay in nearby guano-filled streams. After a walk up along tussock nearby hills which offered fantastic views overlooking our protective bay where the Northanger sat at anchor, we delightfully came upon a small gathering of Grey-headed Albatross chicks perched on their bundt-cake shaped nests. Adults glided in the overcast skies above, some negotiating a landing to reunite with youngster.
I wore a generous grin for the entire 3 hours while ashore knowing that in a day or so I will be camping amongst this Antarctic Serengeti, alone and having reached the shore by kayak. I simply can't wait. But alas, I'm going to have to, as the drama and the challenges of this expedition continues.
This morning we left at first light and dodged icebergs most of our way along the South East coast towards King Edward Point. Arriving in the late afternoon and once tied up along the jetty, a government official came onboard, stamped our passports and gave us the official visitor bio-security presentation which included the protocol which we are required to follow when landing in South Georgia.
South Georgia is a British Overseas Territory and King Edward Point is the Governments administration center and fisheries research facility. Across the other side of the bay is Grytivken, one of 7 abandoned whaling stations frequently visited by tourists ships and the occasional yacht.
By this stage I was busting to be finally reunited with my Looksha IV Necky kayak which I had not seen since late September 2008. Up until now, it had been commercially shipped from Victoria, B.C to Halifax, picked up by Akademik Ioffe, the ship I work on in both Polar Regions who had it onboard for over an year (due to my postponement of the expedition January 2009) then finally delivered last November to KEP.
I unwrapped it eagerly which was quite the chore due to multi layers of bubble wrap, blankets and plastic wrap that surrounded it. My excitement suddenly vanished and my heart sank when I noticed the first of many gel coat and fiberglass punctures on the stern top-deck. 10 + stress punctures and fractures were found, including one which was 6 inches long. At this stage I had not noticed the worst of the damage.
Along the starboard (right) side of the kayak, I noticed along the entire stern of the kayak, the hull had completely separated from the deck. Chunks of gel coat were discovered in the stern hatch and when looking from inside the hatches, bright light shined through showing the vulnerability and fragile state of my brand-new expedition kayak.
The kayak had been completely crushed and .... is now (excuse my language) utterly screwed.
What the heck is going on? I have never experienced so many continuous hurdles and delays when taking part in an expedition, it's starting to be a little ridiculous.
My kayak generously custom built for this particular expedition, by my sponsor Necky Kayaks and Johnson Outdoors, the one which I have trained in, practiced rolling in, set up camera mounts on is unusable. Good on Brian, Magnus and Beth-Anne whom immediately started discussing the possible ways to fix it. I appreciated their positive approach and after a good old cry I let go of the frustration and disappointment and began to come up with a Plan B.
The company I work for, Quark Expeditions, agreed to lend me one of their kayaks as a back-up so I do have another kayak to use if the miracle mending of my Necky kayak is not successful. It just means another day or two delay, the frustration emphasized by an usually calm (little wind) forecast expected over the next two days. Ahhhhh!!!
Deep breath Hayls. Right now it's getting late, I'm tired after a long day and I need to sleep on this new situation and tackle it in the morning. I have to remember, I am here in South Georgia and that is a beautiful thing. Good night to you all.