Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Happy Middle

Above and below - the approach to Grytviken


Even though we spent today being tourists and taking the boys to the top of Table Mountain via cable car (recommended!), I am going to continue this photographic recap of our time in South Georgia.

Our visit there is beginning to seem like part a different lifetime, though it's still less than a month since we sailed away from the place.

(Today some very nice Australian yachties warned me that South Africa would be getting awfully cold if we stayed for three months.  I think that I managed to corral my laughter into a socially acceptable grin.)

Above and below - sailing to Grytviken
This is my "I'm sailing through ice" face
The "Happy Middle" would be the middle part of South Georgia - Grytviken, where we cleared in, and perhaps one or two other anchorages if I get to them in this post.

Grytviken.  We're one of the four yachts tied up to the dock
Grytviken is the oldest whaling station on the island.  It shares a bay with King Edmund Point, long the administrative center for the island.  All the rusty debris that you see in the picture above is what's left over after the station, abandoned in the 60s (no more whales), was cleaned up and made safe.  The old church has been refurbished, and there is an extremely good museum as well.

The boys declared Grytviken to be their favorite town in the entire world.  There was endless debris to play on in the ruins of the station.  I think we were supposed to keep them from climbing around inside the old whale cookers, but we know enough to pick our battles, and this appeared to be a time when it was best to let them run a bit wild.  There were only a handful of builders and museum workers around most of the time that we were there, and those folks seemed to be pretty happy to see some kids, based on the amount of chocolate and chips that showered upon the boys.

Old junk to play on all day and candy.  Like I say, their ideal "town".

At the dock in Grytviken
Whale catcher
Boy vs. fur seal pup

In a trypot at the museum
The view of King Edmund Point.  Or something like that -
my inner American refuses to take exact note of the names of royalty
We liked Grytviken very much too.  On our first full day there, we were touring the museum at ten in the morning when an old South Georgia hand who has something to do with running the place announced that the three staff were about to have tea, and would we like to join them in the staff room?  That felt very much in the spirit of high latitude places that haven't gone to the double damnation of bureaucracy and commerce.

So it was great to chat with some of the people there, and have them over to the boat, and we got to catch up on the sailing news with the three other yachts that were at the dock when we arrived.  The Southern Ocean sailing world is pretty tight-knit.

Visiting Ernest Shackleton's grave is a high point of any visit to Grytviken.  Though our friend Leiv has advanced a wonderfully revisionist view of Shackleton as yet another Pommie duffer in the Antarctic who happens to be the hero of choice for our generation.
We only stayed at Grytviken for one full day on that first visit.  The weather was getting good and we were double-damned if we were going to waste it tied to the dock.

We sailed to Cobbler's Cove, just a few miles from Grytviken, but blessed with the bracing airs of solitude.

Cobbler's Cove.  Now that's a good anchorage.
The big draw of Cobbler's from the perspective of the Galactics was access to a macaroni penguin colony the next bay over.  We hadn't yet seen these largest of the crested penguins.

Going over the hill to the macaroni colony.  The oar is for the fur seals.  They're not so aggressive this late in the season, but Eric wasn't going anywhere without an oar for protection.
The rulebook that the authorities give you in Grytviken has a set of waypoints for getting over the hill to the colony.  Luckily we overlooked the existence of these and so got to try a hopeless shortcut on the way back that nearly saw us benighted.  

You can't have an adventure like that if you're following waypoints from a book.
The macaronis were mostly just hanging around to molt

A sheathbill at the colony.  We hear that they are excellent eating, in spite of their disgusting dietary habits.

To skip ahead a bit, we returned to Grytviken at the end of our trip to water up for the passage to South Africa.   

Helicopter wreckage from the Argentinian invasion in 1982.  What stupidity...

Some days we were starting to feel like the last yacht of the season...


  1. Got lost in the city and missed your landfall....bravo Galactic. Fabulous photos from the edge of the world. Keep 'em comin', ...and Elias's too. Magical visions for our longing eyes. Xx

  2. Made my day! Looks like an awesome place to visit (and maybe stay a while!).