Antarctica - January 31, 2018...Rough seas...Balance of photos from Grytviken, South Georgia...


The sun reflecting on a glacier with King Penguins at the shore.
It's difficult walking about the ship, more than we've encountered since the 17 meter, 50-foot waves on the Norwegian Epic in April 2013.   For details on that wild Atlantic Ocean crossing, please click here.
View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia.
During breakfast and lunch today, the staff had quite a time keeping glasses and dishes from flying off tables and trays.  Our own chairs and table were sliding across the floor while we all laughed at the drama. 
Doorway to the Carr Maritime Gallery (museum).
In a meeting this morning when the Captain Patrick Marchesseau announced that weather conditions are expected to improve which will enable us to get to Elephant Island by tomorrow.  Also, he mentioned, weather providing we may have an opportunity to go where few cruise ship ever go...the Antarctic Circle.
Whaling boat and a variety of whaling equipment.
However, in this part of the world weather is highly unpredictable so we can only wait and see what happens over the next several days.  The cruise doesn't end until February 8th so we may have ample time for many more exciting adventures.
Hand-cranked air pump for divers.
With today as yet another sea day and with more photos we'd yet to post for Grytviken we decided to extend yesterday"s post with more photos from this unique settlement.  Grytviken is a plethora of historical information regarding the whaling industry from many decades ago.
Cooking apparatus and boots with nails to stabilize walking on ice, whale oil and debris.
With our passion for wildlife, it was sad to see all of the boats and equipment used in the slaughter of these magnificent animals.  The heart-wrenching experience of walking through the settlement only softened the shock by the playful Fur Seals we encountered as well as the many lounging Elephant Seals in our path that made us laugh with sheer delight. 
Navigational device.
As the cruise continues, we find ourselves entrenched in our little group of new friends, spending meals and happy hour together.  The commonality we all possess of being experience world travelers allows for some exceptional conversation.
Vertebrae from a whale.
Amid all the story-telling, the laughter flows with ease from comments made by both our new friend Marg and of course, Tom who is always quick on his feet with humorous interjections.  Add hysterically funny Marg to the mix and we're all rolling on the floor throughout the day and evening. 
Various preserved specimens.
Marg wanted me to mention that she kisses our cabin door leaving a lipstick print when she passes by to her and husband Steve's cabin down the hall from us.  Each day, the cleaning staff washes it off, only to have a new imprint the next day.  We howled.  We couldn't be having more fun!
Books and local wares in the Grytviken shop.
The staff goes overboard to ensure we're all having the utmost experience on this luxury cruise.  Unfortunately, based on their high prices for luxurious accommodation, I doubt we'll be able to cruise on Ponant in the future.
Ropes and pulleys for the whaling boats.
Let's face it, traveling the world full-time, now for five years and three months, does leave us in a constant state of minding the budget.  Luxury cruises such as this, although quite pleasurable, leave us in a position of having to strictly tighten our belts for extended periods.  This doesn't appeal to us over the long haul.
Grenades and harpoon heads used to kill whales.
We'd rather live within our means and be able to choose quality experiences including vacation/holiday rentals, dining out from time to time, renting cars and overall living a little more relaxed lifestyle.
Tom thought this rock formation appears to be a turtle.
This cruise held so much appeal to us due to the itinerary which included being able to board the Zodiac boats for many landings along the way.  There are several other cruises to the Antarctic but most of these don't allow the passengers to disembark the ship. 
An empty Zodiac boat ready to load to more passengers to take ashore.
This aspect alone was enough of a motivator to prompt us to book this expensive cruise and we're glad we did.  Fortunately, we both accept that this upscale type of cruising isn't the norm for us and we'll continue to be content on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines many smaller ships. 
Example of the interior of local housing during the whaling days.
On all of our past 21 sailings, we've had an opportunity to visit many stunning ports of call and meet equally wonderful people, many of whom we continue to stay in touch, building lifelong relationships.
King Penguins standing in shallow water.
Last night, after dinner, we headed to deck three lounge for another fine evening with our friends, dancing (not me so much), sipping beverages (I'm still not drinking wine due to the antibiotics I'm still taking for my knee).  The captain and many other crew members joined in the wild dancing on the dance floor.  What a night!
The Grytviken shop with various equipment on display outdoors.
Speaking of my injured knee, yesterday I started another antibiotic, a French drug for staph infections.  Voila!  Within six hours, the redness and inflammation began to subside.  I have to take them for two more days and then I'll be done, hopefully fully recovered.  It's looking good.
What a face!
In the next hour, we all have to bring all of our outdoor clothing, gloves, and boots to the main lounge to vacuum everything to remove any potential contaminants or bacteria that may be on our clothing we might carry from one landing to another.
Two adorable Fur Seal pups enjoying the warmth of the sun.
Afterward, we have one more Antarctica seminar today and then we'll shower and change for yet another fun evening.  Need I say, we're having a fabulous time surrounded by that which we love: wildlife, nature, scenery and good friends.
Wi-Fi permitting we'll be back with more tomorrow!  Stay well.  Stay happy! 
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Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2017:
Cute.  We took this photo through the glass of the window in the living room in Huon Valley, Tasmania when we happened to see this rabbit on the shore of the Huon River.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica - January 30, 2018...Grytviken, South Georgia...An abandoned whaling town...Sailing around the storm...



This group of Elephant Seals found comfort in sleeping together in a ditch.
The world...it baffles, it tantalizes, it enlightens and it surprises in one way or another almost every day.  It spares nothing in attempting to capture our attention while we, in our amateurish or professional manner, attempt to capture it in photos, in hopes of retaining memories to last a lifetime. 
Some of the King Penguins were molting while others were not.

This trip to Antarctica has been at the top of our list for photo ops, (along with our upcoming adventures in Africa).  Antarctica keeps “giving and giving.”  And, in our less-than-professional photo-taking manner we thrive on these opportunities with such gusto we can hardly contain ourselves. 
We walked along this beach in the rain to the small settlement ahead.
Taking photos is important to us in order to be able to share them with all of our worldwide readers and also to maintain for our own reference, our family and for generations yet to come.
Tom, with an iceberg in the background.
The younger seals seem eager to pose for a photo but the older males chase after us, prepared to attack if necessary.  We had to scare a few off by clapping our hands and yelling.
Above all, standing on the very ground where so much is happening takes our breath away as we live in the magic of the moment, anticipating nothing more than what is before our eyes.  With heart pounding enthusiasm, we embrace every moment, later reviewing our photos, hoping to find those special captures that truly tell the story of our current experiences.
A young seal sleeping atop a plant with a grouping of Elephant Seals in the background.
Sure, an expedition cruise is not expected to be perfect.  We’ve had to forgo three landings due to bad weather, we’d looked forward to on the itinerary.  Last night, with bad weather on the horizon, we had to sail away missing two landings scheduled for today. 
A lone Fur Seal posing for a photo.


Instead, the captain decided we’d sail directly to the Antarctic Peninsula where we’ll spend the next several days, finally amid the massive icy environment we’ve so longed to see.  As a result, we’re at sea today.
She was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth.  A bath would be nice.
Yesterday morning, we embarked on the Zodiac boats to Grytviken, South Georgia, an old whaling village since gone to ruin.  As we wandered through the historic town, we couldn’t help but feel sorrowful for the millions of whales that were slaughtered for financial gain. 

This is the first of a few icebergs we spotted in Grytviken and the first so far on the cruise.  Guaranteed, more will follow.


Evidence of this travesty is easily evidenced in this small settlement with the remnants of the storage tanks and processing machines and equipment.  Among the ruins were multiple shipwrecks photos of which we’ve included here today.

This Elephant Seal was sleeping in the ditch without his friends.
There remains a small group of 10 to 20 people that occupy the location during the summer months, (less in the winter months) to facilitate ship passengers stopping to inspect the settlement. 
We were served a shot glass of Irish whiskey with the suggestion to take a sip and pour the remainder over Shackleton's grave, a local tradition.
There's a shop, a church, a post office and a few museums, all of which we visited during our few hours at the location.  It was interesting and quite unusual, especially the many Fur Seals and Elephant Seals that live amongst the ruins of a business long ago abandoned.

No sip of Irish whiskey for me but I poured mine over Shackleton's gravesite.
Here is information about Grytviken, South Georgia Island from this site:
Grytviken is a settlement on the island of South Georgia, part of a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. The settlement's name is Swedish in origin, meaning "the Pot Bay". The name was coined in 1902 by the Swedish Antarctic Expedition and documented by the Swedish surveyor Johan Gunnar Andersson, after the expedition found old English try pots used to render seal oil at the site.
It is the best harbour on the island, consisting of a bay (King Edward Cove) within a bay (Cumberland East Bay). The site is quite sheltered, provides a substantial area of flat land suitable for building, and has a good supply of fresh water.

Her companion is fanning her with widespread fins and tail.
The settlement at Grytviken was established on 16 November 1904 by the Norwegian sea captain Carl Anton Larsen, as a whaling station for his Compañía Argentina de Pesca (Argentine Fishing Company).  It was phenomenally successful, with 195 whales taken in the first season alone. The whalers used every part of the animals – the blubber, meat, bones, and viscera were rendered to extract the oil, and the bones and meat were turned into fertilizer and fodder. Elephant seals were also hunted for their blubber.

Around 300 men worked at the station during its heyday, operating during the southern summer from October to March. A few remained over the winter to maintain the boats and factory. Every few months a transport ship would bring essential supplies to the station and take away the oil and other produce. The following year the Argentine Government established a meteorological station.
An adorable seal climbed a wall to see what the commotion was all about.
Carl Anton Larsen, the founder of Grytviken, was a naturalized Briton born in Sandefjord, Norway. In his application for British citizenship, filed with the magistrate of South Georgia and granted in 1910, Captain Larsen wrote: "I have given up my Norwegian citizen's rights and have resided here since I started whaling in this colony on the 16 November 1904 and have no reason to be of any other citizenship than British, as I have had and intend to have my residence here still for a long time." His family in Grytviken included his wife, three daughters and two sons.

The first iceberg we'd seen since leaving Ushuaia a week ago today.  More will surely follow as we head to the Antarctica Peninsula.
As the manager of Compañía Argentina de Pesca, Larsen organized the construction of Grytviken, a remarkable undertaking accomplished by a team of sixty Norwegians between their arrival on 16 November and commencement of production at the newly built whale-oil factory on 24 December 1904. Larsen chose the whaling station's site during his 1902 visit while in command of the ship Antarctic of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–03) led by Otto Nordenskjöld.
On that occasion, the name Grytviken ("The Pot Cove") was given by the Swedish archaeologist and geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson who surveyed part of Thatcher Peninsula and found numerous artefacts and features from sealers’ habitation and industry, including a shallop (a type of small boat) and several try-pots used to boil seal oil. One of those try-pots, having the inscription ‘Johnson and Sons, Wapping Dock, London’ is preserved at the South Georgia Museum in Grytviken.

Me, with an iceberg in the background.
Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often had their families living together with them. Among them was Fridthjof Jacobsen whose wife Klara Olette Jacobsen gave birth to two of their children in Grytviken; their daughter Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen was the first child ever born south of the Antarctic Convergence, on 8 October 1913. Several more children have been born in South Georgia: recently even aboard visiting private yachts.
The whale population in the seas around the island was substantially reduced over the following sixty years until the station closed in December 1966, by which time the whale stocks were so low that their continued exploitation was unviable. Even now, the shore around Grytviken is littered with whale bones and the rusting remains of whale oil processing plants and abandoned whaling ships. 
A big male Fur Seal and perhaps his offspring who he was training to be growly at visitors.
Ernest Shackleton Grytviken is closely associated with the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition set out from London on 1 August 1914, to reach the Weddell Sea on 10 January 1915, where the pack ice closed in on their ship, Endurance. The ship was broken by the ice on 27 October 1915. The 28 crew members managed to flee to Elephant Island off Antarctica, bringing three small boats with them.

Shackleton and five other men managed to reach the southern coast of South Georgia in the James Caird. They arrived at Cave Cove, and camped at Peggotty Bluff, from where they trekked to Stromness on the northeast coast. From Grytviken, Shackleton organized a rescue operation to bring home the remaining men.
An iceberg with our ship in the background.
He again returned to Grytviken, but posthumously. In 1922 he had died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the beginning of another Antarctic expedition. His widow chose South Georgia as his final resting place. His grave is located south of Grytviken, alongside those of whalers who had died on the island.

On 27 November 2011, the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton's 'right-hand man', were interred on the right side of Shackleton's grave-site. The inscription on the rough-hewn granite block set to mark the spot reads "Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton's right-hand man." Wild's relatives and Shackleton's only granddaughter, the Hon Alexandra Shackleton, attended a service conducted by the Rev Dr. Richard Hines, rector of the Falkland Islands.

A whaling boat shipwreck.
The writer Angie Butler discovered the ashes in the vault of Braamfontein Cemetery, Johannesburg, while researching her book The Quest For Frank Wild. She said "His ashes will now be where they were always supposed to be. It just took them a long time getting there.”
Update on my knee:  It's certainly not 100% yet.  Visited the doctor a second time for another round of a different antibiotic and more anti-inflammatory meds.  Its improving, albeit slowly. 

Another sad reminder that life for wildlife is not easy.
I can't wait for this to be healed so I can stop thinking about it and, good grief, have a glass of wine!  But, I've only missed one outing (out of many more) which required a five km walk and Tom went ahead without me taking amazing photos.

As for today, right now I'm in the lounge on deck three while Tom is taking a much-needed nap.  It's nearly 3:00 pm.  Since we're at sea today, little is required other than to enjoy our new friends which is relatively easy to do in this beautiful environment.
The small Lutheran church in Grytviken, South Georgia.
Update on the pending rough seas:  The captain made a good decision when we forfeited two planned landings to instead sail directly to Elephant Island which we should reach sometime tomorrow.  The seas are rough and walking around the ship requires some holding on to one another, to walls, and to railings. 

But, in our usual way, neither of us are seasick but we suspect that some passengers may be feeling it when I'm only one of about eight passengers in the usually packed deck three lounge.  Due to the weakening Wi-Fi signal, I'm unable to enlarge a number of our photos to the size we always post. 

Whaling oil processing equipment.
Have a great day!  And again, no worries, if we aren't here over the next few days.  It's highly likely we won't have a signal, the further south we sail.
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Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2017:
Wood handled tools for the ""barbie" we spotted at an outdoor flea market in Franklin, Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

Antarctica - January 29, 2018...Stromness, South Georgia Island...Rainy expedition...Bad weather on its way!!!


At lunch today, one of the chefs was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors.  We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors.  It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking.
It’s Monday and we recently returned from our first expedition of the day.  Later today, around 5:30 pm, we’re heading out for a second expedition returning around 7:30 pm. 
Today's view from the aft of the ship as we prepared to sail away from Grytvenik (more on that tomorrow).

Dinner will be late tonight but we don't mind.  Dining is of less importance to us on this cruise and although the food is fine, it isn't as high caliber as we may have expected. 

It's heartwarming to see how close they hang near one another.
The schedule seems to change daily due to weather conditions and to date we’ve stopped at two unexpected locations and moved around the disembarking hours on many occasions.
Macaroni Penguin in Stromness, South Georgia, known for the pasta-like plumage atop their heads.
Regardless of where we land with the Zodiac boats, we’re sharing the stories and photos in the order of the expeditions in order to maintain the flow of activities, but not necessarily on the specific day, they occur. 
Two Macaroni Penguins keeping watch.  Too cute!
When not out to sea, we make two expeditions each day ending up with an entirely different experience on each occasion. 
Fur Seals enjoying a swim in the sea, hoping to find lunch.
With a number of sea days upcoming in the next week, we should be close to “caught up” by the end of the cruise, depending on the Wi-Fi connection which so far, has been much better than we’d expected. 
There were many of this and last year's offspring on the beach.
If we aren’t caught up, we’ll continue to post during the two days we’ll be back in Buenos Aires between February 8th and February 10th.  It should all work well. 
Seals on the beach close to the old ruins of buildings from the whaling days of decades past.
If we aren’t done, we certainly will continue to complete the cruise photos and stories once we arrive in South Africa for the required number of days to complete the cruise photos. 
We were warned to stay away from the larger males.  They can be nasty is they're crowded and feel they or the pups are in danger.
Although, once we arrive in “the bush” a whole new world of photos and stories will be stockpiling that surely we’ll be anxious to share.  What a wonderful problem to have facing us!
King Penguins with fluffed up feathers after time spent in the cold sea.
The biggest issue has been having the time to prepare the posts when we just so darned busy, heading out on the Zodiac boats twice a day along with dining and socializing which now has become a regular part of our routine, having found wonderful people as part of our select group.
Mating calls coupled with sounds of pure joy by King Penguins.
That’s how it goes when cruising, meeting people that share some common interests with whom we spend most of our free time.  Need I say?  It’s quite fun.   
King Penguins are second in size to Emperor Penguins whom we won't see this time of year.  They mate later in the summer season, long after we'll be gone.
As for the cruise, we’re enjoying the luxury ship and the supurb service.  We  find that the ship's only 194 passengers are extra pleasant in its small size.  

We were free to wander about the grass with the many seals and birds.
There are no long queues for meals and only short waiting times to disembark for activities, get beverages or any other attention provided by the well trained and sophisticated staff.
Again, as shown in prior posts, not all survive the harsh conditions and possible predators.
For us, this cruise wasn’t about luxurious cruising.  It is entirely about the opportunity to see this magical place and only so many cruise lines offer the opportunity to get off the ship via Zodiac boats to explore the various points of interest up close and personal. 

Many cruise lines offer a “cruising only” Antarctica experience which simply wasn’t all-encompassing and exceptional for our desires.  So, we bit the bullet and paid the “big bucks” to sail on Ponant Le Soleal for the comprehensive Antarctic adventure. 
The landscape is littered with remnants of the whaling history in the area.
Often, I find myself practically squealing with delight over the sights before our eyes, wondering how did we get so lucky to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience?
Propellers from an era long past.
Today’s photos are from yesterday afternoon’s visit to Stromness, South Georgia, another stunning area of this majestic island filled with numbers of wildlife beyond our wildest imagination.  Here’s a bit of information about Stromness from this site:

"Stromness is a former whaling station on the northern coast of South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. It was the destination of Ernest Shackleton's rescue journey in 1916.

It is the central of three harbours in the west side of Stromness Bay, South Georgia. The name "Fridtjof Nansen" or Nansen appeared for this harbour on some early charts, but since about 1920 the name Stromness has been consistently used. The name Stromness comes from the town of that name in Orkney, Scotland.

In 1907 a "floating factory" was erected in Stromness Harbour; the land station being built in 1912. From 1912 until 1931 Stromness operated as a whaling station, the first manager of which was Petter Sørlle. In 1931 it was converted into a ship repair yard with a machine shop and a foundry. It remained operational until 1961 when the site was abandoned.
In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia at King Haakon Bay after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in the 22-foot (6.7 m) lifeboat James Caird. Shackleton, along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley, then trekked across South Georgia's mountainous and glaciated interior in an effort to reach help on the populated northern shore of the island.

After 36 hours of crossing the interior they arrived at the Stromness administration center which also was the home of the Norwegian whaling station's manager. This building has been dubbed the "Villa at Stromness" because it represents relative luxury compared to its surroundings. All men were rescued from Elephant Island.

In the decades following its closure, Stromness has been subject to damage from the elements and many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins. However, recent efforts have been made to restore the "Villa" and clean up debris from the rest of the site in order to make it safe for visitors. Outside of Stromness is a small whalers' cemetery with 14 grave markers."
A Zodiac boat after dropping us off back at the ship as it heads out to collect more passengers after the expedition ends.
Now as I finish today's post mid afternoon, hopefully able to upload it within the next hour or so, we're back out to sea and will share this morning's visit to one of my favorite spots so far, Grytvenik, South Georgia.  I can't wait to share those stunning photos!
This is one of the disinfecting solutions we must use to clean our ship-provided rubber boots in order to clean off any debris that may contaminate other areas.  There are also rectangular buckets with long handles scrub brushes we use to scrub the boots before walking through this solution.  Tom always scrubs my boots for me.  Thanks, Honey!
Tom just returned from an informational update on what is yet to come, to discover we're in for some seriously rough seas (over 16 meters, 53.49 feet) and our itinerary is changing.  We're fast heading south to Antarctica.  If you don't hear from us for a few days, no worries.  Bad weather could impact our satellite service.

Enjoy your day, dear readers and thank you for sharing this adventure with us.
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Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2017:
Much to our pleasure we engaged in a lengthy conversation with Miffy and Don, the owners and creators of this unique product, Smoked Salt Tasmania. They may be reached at Facebook: Smoked Salt Tasmania. For more photos of the fair, please click here.