South Ocean sailing to South Georgia

After Elephant Island, we spent the next two days at sea sailing to South Georgia continuing in the footsteps of Shackleton (Feb 13/14, 2022).

On the first day we awoke, or more realistically just got out of bed, after a mostly sleepless night in rough seas sailing to South Georgia just in time for an early 9AM mandatory briefing, skipping breakfast. Much of the South Georgia briefing was the same as Antarctica with firm distances we needed to keep from the animals, but with a bit more emphasis on our clothing and ensuring not to bring even the tiniest seed in. South Georgia is a unique and closed off biome that is vulnerable to outside invasive species of flora and fauna and the government was strict about not introducing anything harmful. Hurtigruten also showed a mandatory video on entry to the island that was narrated by Sir David Attenborough and was actually quite beautiful and professionally produced. Definitely the best government safety video I had even seen.

We went down to deck 2 where we disembark for our landings, and thoroughly scrubbed our boots and picked at any grooves and seams with paper clips to ensure not even the tiniest seed would make it onto South Georgia. Later we inspected our outerwear clothing, but that was mostly good to go.

While sailing to South Georgia, we attended a session on Orcas, which gave us a greater appreciation for the apex predators of the ocean. Yes, they even kill Great Whites! It was interesting to lean how they use their intelligence and to capture their prey, and how they impart those lessons to their young. It reminded me a lot of cats, as they are the oceans perfect little (or in this case big) murder machines, and often will play with their food to test or learn new skills.

For Feb 13, here was our food recap – not too much excitement as we were sailing to South Georgia:

  • Lunch: We both got the fusilli, pesto rosso and scallion
  • Dinner: CJ stuck with broth, an apple, and crackers. I had the pumpkin pasta and some strawberry ice cream for dessert. By this point we were thoroughly sick of the richness of all of the food, and CJ commented with only a modicum of joking that the broth might have been the best meal she had had so far.

Later in the evening we attended a session on Antarctic aircraft and learned how humans had progressed from balloons to airplanes and helicopters to get around the continent and gain aerial views. As Rachel the British presenter made it clear, when it came to the Americans flying in Antarctica, they did it in typical American fashion of always doing it bigger and by throwing lots of money at the situation. British Twin Otters are still the most widely used aircraft on the continent, and we enjoyed the name of a company called “White Desert” which was offering luxury flights and tours into the interior of the continent. Given CJ’s seasickness if we ever make it back to Antarctica, it will be by plane.

The next day was 2/14 – Crappy Valentines Day! The seas became choppier in the night, and prohibited any sleep for either of us. This also progressed CJ’s seasickness and she was feeling thoroughly miserable at this point. At 6AM she actually left our cabin, which was in the bow of the ship and one of the worst locations for the movement, and decided to try to sleep in chairs elsewhere throughout the ship in more stable locations. I stayed in bed, but with a huge crick in my neck, and if I got any sleep, it was only in the 1-3 minutes between huge waves slapping the bow and rocking the whole cabin. When I finally woke I found CJ trying to sleep in one of the chairs on deck 4. A general malaise had fallen on us the day before and continued today. The conditions were crappy, neither of us were sleeping, CJ had seasickness, we both had 10,000 foot stares, and we were honestly a bit bored. It felt like our days recently had only been made up of eating heavy food that mostly was the same day over day, not sleeping, attending some admittedly interesting sessions, but primarily sitting around, and then doing it again the next day. Even reading had lost some of its appeal because we were doing so much of it. We desperately needed the next landing to hopefully get some of our travel mojo back. Sailing to South Georgia was decidedly the worst part about the trip.

In the morning we attended a session by one of the whale biologists who had been taking samples from the humpbacks in the Antarctic. She explained that she then sequenced their DNA, which had led to discoveries that the humpback whales off Colombia and in Antarctica were related. She was seasick as well, and our biggest appreciation for her came from the fact that she got through her whole session and then as CJ heard, promptly raced to the bathroom to lose her lunch. About 10% of the passengers on the ship seemed to be affected by the rough seas – at time as rolling as 30 foot swells.

We then attended interesting sessions on tectonic plates, volcanism, and our next days activities. We learned about the various plates, and how the Falkland islands had actually traveled from the African continent way in the past, which make the rocks and cliffs very similar to Cape Town, South Africa. 

As usual, and now part of our daily routine, we checked the map and we eagerly following our progress on our sailing to South Georgia.

Sailing to South Georgia daily progress

We spent the evening quite pleasantly reading up in the Explorers Lounge. They had the lights dimmed, were finally playing some better music composed of Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, etc. and it was a great place to get away from our topsy-turvy cabin. Thankfully though, by the time we did go back to our room we must have been closer to land, because the seas had calmed a bit and we both got much better sleep.

Explorer’s Lounge had the only lounge chairs on the ship and were often more comfortable than our cabin

Here was our Valentine’s Day food recap, wrapping up our sailing to South Georgia:

Breakfast: CJ since she was already out of the room, was first into breakfast, but only got some fruit. I skipped as usual.

Lunch: CJ had broth and some rice. I had butter chicken, which was at least a nice change with something a bit more ethnic, though still heavy. CJ was sad she couldn’t try some.

Dinner: CJ started with a vegetarian starter that was supposed to be pumpkin based, but instead was primarily red onion with only two tiny chunks of pumpkin. It was not very good. Then I had the surf and turf, but was disappointed to learn that the turf was lamb, and the surf was only two shrimp. Best part was that it came with some roasted corn, though I sent sauce flying attempting to skewer the corn cob so that I could shave off the kernels. Whoops! Ended up having to surreptitiously wipe some of the sauce off the nearby window. CJ got a potato pancake, which was thoroughly boring and sans any sauce surprisingly. For dessert she had a black currant sorbet that ended up being extremely sour. I had a “special cake” for valentines day that looked like a chocolate cake, but was a sugar bomb that I didn’t finish.

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