Saturday 2 March 2013

Drygalski Fjord and Grytviken

Drygalski Fjord is on the southeast extremity of South Georgia.The fjord is 14 kilometers long and is lined with glaciers. As Fram headed deep into the fjord at 08:00, the skies were grey. At times intermittent snow squalls reduced the visibility to a mere 100 metres and sent many people seeking shelter in the Observation Lounge on deck seven. There was a hard core group that remained on deck all the way up to the head of the fjord. And lo and behold the skies brightened up. The snow squalls ceased and visibility improved to the point where we could see the spectacular terminus and Risting and Jenkins glaciers.

Eventually it was time to do a 180 and head back out beautiful Drygalski Fjord and into the Scotia Sea. Once we got into open water again the weather really cleared up and we enjoyed sunny skies as we cruised to Grytiviken.

In the afternoon we landed at the former former whaling station and the current site for some of the administration of South Georgia and surrounding waters. Some of the personnel from Grytviken came on board Fram at 14:30. After a short presentation in the Framheim hall we were cleared to go on shore at 15:00.

We landed just in front of the cemetery where Ernest Shackleton is buried. Scores of rambunctious fur seal pups lined the waters edge. They flipped and flopped in and out of the water. They would growl in a sort of timid aggressive fashion as they flippered their way up to smell your boot. Cutest damn things on earth. Antarctic Fur Seal pups. 

It seemed that most people went to pay their respects to Shackleton and then joined a tour of the whaling station escorted by two of the personnel from Grytviken. Everyone had a full three hours on shore which allowed plenty of time to visit the museum, the gift shop and even to wander out to the memorial at King Edward Point.

By 20:00 everyone was back on board. Soon we lifted anchor and headed in the direction of Fortuna Bay. It seemed that just about everyone had paid their respects at Shackleton’s grave. And just about everyone was looking forward to see Fortuna Bay, the beginning of the last leg of Shackleton’s epic journey from the Weddell Sea to Stromness.