Salisbury Plain in South Georgia: our last day

Our final day in South Georgia, Feb 18, 2022, consisted of a a visit to Salisbury Plain and then Elsehul Bay to view the macaroni penguins.

But even sweeter still than the adventure ahead, after many sleepless nights in South Georgia, and after switching cabins the day before we were finally able to achieve it: sleep! Glorious sleep! The room performed better than we could have hoped, and we both were able to sleep throughout the night in the room. We did wake up from time to time due to big waves crashing or swells, but easily got back to sleep after. What a nice feeling to wake up having gotten some actual rest.

Happiness is the struggle towards a summit and, when it is attained, it is happiness to glimpse new summits on the other side

Fridtjof Nansen

We both skipped breakfast for sleep. A trade I’ll usually make. That said, CJ did have to get up earlier this morning to head out to Salisbury Plain for an 8AM photography class with Yuri the ships photographer. She got some good tips around how use wide angle to shoot wild life, to separate focus from shutter, and got some good early time up close and personal with the wildlife before the bulk of us came on shore.

I landed closer to 10AM at Salisbury Plain. After a windy zodiac ride we arrived on a pebble beach at Salisbury Plain, and then had a long walk along a grassy/muddy plain to the second largest king penguin colony on the island. The interesting thing about this colony is that it not only covers the beach, but also winds up the hill side onto a Salisbury plain hill. The wind was blowing, time stood still. I somehow found CJ in the mass of matching Hurtigruten jackets. Thousands of matching penguins being watched by a hundred matching humans, how different were we really? She had been out on Salisbury Plain for over two hours at that point, carrying tons of gear, so we headed back to the landing to get back to the ship just a bit earlier.

For lunch, we were in for a shock. What’s this, what’s this!? Do my eye’s deceive? They do not! Cheeseburger ho! Simple food and a cheeseburger to boot, our prayers had been answered. Thank you Cheesus! We started with a greek salad as well, and the cheeseburger was good and hit the spot. Although we did have to wait to get into lunch, and ended up getting sat with Mike and Yvonne, which we were fine with. The “bread pudding” or something thereabouts for dessert was the only disappointment, but couldn’t bring us down from the first two courses.

Intrigue on the high seas! As we were heading into lunch we started to notice another ship nearby, and as it came closer we got an announcement over the PA system that the ship, the National Geographic Resolution, was going to pull up beside us and transfer a patient with medical needs to our ship since our facilities were superior. It was an interesting process to watch as we dined, took a long while, but eventually two zodiacs headed over to our ship, one with a person strapped down in the middle. Rumors ran rampant across the ship, as they always do, some murmurs said the injury was due to a fall, some said the injured was brought to our ship because we had a specialized doctor on board, we never really got a straight final answer. We agreed that it was the right thing to do and that ships were obligated to help, but were just hoping they didn’t have Covid and this wouldn’t jeopardize our visit to the Falklands.

It was likely about a two hour detour to help our new injured crewmate, and then we were off again sailing towards Elsehul Bay where there was the promise of seeing macaroni penguins. We had already seen a few swimming by the ship, but were hoping to see more. Unfortunately once we started turning into the bay it was clear that the wind was roaring too much, and the conditions would not make for good nor safe zodiac cruising. We were a bit bummed as we had both really wanted to get a closer look of the macaronis and I cut the morning a bit short with one more expected landing in South Georgia. Alas it was not to be. The ship pulled a big “nope” maneuver and started backing up out of the bay, which was clearly not what it was meant for and took a good amount of time. We then headed out past Bird Island, or as they announced it, Rob’s Bird Island, because he had lived there working as a scientist for 3 years in the 80s.

Dinner: CJ was able to scrounge up some chicken noodle soup from the kitchen, which aided her tenuous tummy. I had creamy potato soup and then a seafood skewer. Both were a bit disappointing. 

Here was the menus we remembered to take pictures of during the day:

The rough seas in Elsehul only compounded once we got into open water, with 5+ meter waves. We were in for the roughest night and next day of the trip so far on the way to the Falkland Islands. During those rough seas we did watch the first half of “Shackleton” an A&E miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh.

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