Wednesday 4 November 2015

We are now intrepid sailors!

Well we have been sailing for the past three days in open sea towards the Falkland Islands, and encountered a storm yesterday morning. It was no surprise as weather forecasting is highly sophisticated these days and we had lots of charts showing big red blobs to the south of the islands. No one ever wants to see these blobs, which indicate bigger waves or higher winds, but these meteorological features are a part of sailing in South Atlantic waters and there is nothing we can do about it. Well, I shouldn't say nothing because our officers on the bridge are skilled at navigating to give us the smoothest ride possible under the conditions and this may mean deviating a little from the optimum course, then speeding up to make up the time.

So today we are approaching our goal- the Falkland Islands! And what a goal they are- remote, wild, beautiful, and totally fascinating on many different levels. By late afternoon we had arrived at Saunders Island but the wind was blowing VERY strongly! Anyway, our intrepid expedition staff decided to see what the conditions were like on the beach and we launched two of our Polarcirkel boats and went in. As we approached we saw that much of the landing beach was being affected by rollers, although they were not too high and they were intermittent. This last feature was the key to success because the time between waves was long enough to allow us to land our guests!

The Saunders Island landing was fantastic, even with the wind blowing sand in our eyes! There was so much to see that we didn't care! The theme was wildlife particularly birds with five species of penguins breeding, three gull species and many others present. We will let a selection of images tell the story of this amazing place!

Waves rolling in and being blown back to sea
Part of the Gentoo Penguin colony
Some King Penguins had chicks
A Rockhopper Penguin pair with the Macaroni Penguin behind
A nice Brown-hooded Gull showing a pink breast
Two Black-browed Albatrosses courting
We landed on the beach at the far end
A young Striated Caracara
Some of our guests enjoying the wildlife at Saunders