Wednesday, November 18, 2009

South Georgia

I have just returned from a once in a lifetime trip to South Georgia. First of all South Georgia is a small island 800 miles South East of the Falkland Islands. I managed to get aboard warship HMS Gloucester that was on a manoeuvre down there. It was all luck as the lady that was meant to go fell pregnant and she wasn't allowed so I was asked last minute. Mum and Dad were down here visiting so I had built in child care as Allen cannot guarantee to be around when needed.

So it took 3 days to get down to the Antarctic. Once we crossed the Antarctic Convergence Zone we were on iceberg watch, a bit scary but the crew worked like a well oiled machine it was amazing to watch. There were 21 guests on board although there were only 9 of us in the officers part. I shared a cabin with another wife called Mel. There were only us two as wives the rest were mainly service personnel. We were very lucky as we got on like a house on fire and did everything on offer.

I've included a photo of a glacier as we arrived in South Georgia, a beautiful sight. We stopped at Grytvikin which is where the British Antarctic Survey people are based. We anchored off shore for 2 days and I went ashore both days. I saw king penguins, elephant seals, fur seals and albatross. There's also a museum there, a post office, a whaling station and a church. We had a remembrance service in the church, a strange experience as when we had the 2 min silence I looked out of the window and saw 3 king penguins wandering past! Another of the photos is of me taking a photo of one king penguin in the snow. As you can see we had varied weather but it didn't stop us doing anything.

We also got to have a helicopter trip over South Georgia. I've put a photo in of the helicopter getting ready to go off the end of the ship. The helicopter ride was great, South Georgia is truly beautiful. We also stopped at Gold Bay where there was a colony of over 50,000 king penguins plus 1000's of elephant seals. They were all burping and farting so it was very noisy and smelly!

We finally stopped in Leith Harbour and then moved to Stromness Harbour. We got to go ashore again and sat amongst the fur seals that smell like skunks and are quite violent if provoked.

While on board we got major tours of the ship. I helped out in the galley and made cakes for 240 people - harder than it sounds. We had a go at driving too, more stressful than I imagined. So as you can probably tell I had a brilliant time. I couldn't have gone if it wasn't for Mum, Dad and Allen so I owe them a major thank you. They have also had rubbish weather since I've been away. I obviously missed everyone loads and felt really bad for missing Jacob's birthday. I will put some photos on from his birthday next! Didn't get sea sick at all which was good as it was pretty rough. Did see one bloke throw up so people were definitely feeling bad.

Off to Pebble island tomorrow so I will include some photos of Mum and Dad in the next post.
Hope all is well.


carriesweatland said...

What an adventure. Would you have ever imagined yourself taking that trip? Sound very good. Not too much here. I was in Phoenix for some training and got to spend some time with my sister. Our Thanksgiving is this week, so we have a small break from school. We're hosting a dinner for a few families here. Should be nice, I hope! Enjoy the rest of the visit with your parents, Our best, Carrie

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachael, from your blog you seem to have got the naval slang weighed off "Shippers"! It sounds as if you had a fantastic time and a trip that most people are not fortunate enough to appreciate. I trust my comrades onboard looked after you well and I am sure that freshly baked cakes were very welcome!! Navy chefs are not that good at cakes, it's a hard course they do......nobody has passed it yet. Off to Belgium in 3 weeks it's come around so quickly. Take care, love to Abi and Jacob. Jim