On our way South Georgia, passing by Clarence and Elephant Islands. Great sailing and assessing sail damage to start repairs
With a day of great sailing, doing 153nm in the last 24 hours, we definitely leave behind the steps of Otto Nordenksjold expedition at just the start of the 20th Century. Their adventures and struggles in the Weddell Sea have their continuation at our next destination, South Georgia, where this very same expedition and C.A. Larsen, the Captain of the Antarctic, still left some other stories and facts of historical relevance.
All the same, the Weddell Sea is now at our back, the Antarctic expanse described by Thomas R. Henry in 1950 as the most treacherous and dismal region on earth.
Heading North now on seas free of ice, taking advantage of the variable Westerly and South-westerly winds.
In the morning the Fore Topgallant is readied and unbent. While heeling, pitching and rolling, lines and blocks have to be rigged, buntlines undone, robands cut, earring lashings untied, then the sail is ready to be lowered, guided with a tag-line to the fore deck. Not for long, as it soon makes its way to the dry and warm Library, for the next days re-converted into a sort of sail-maker loft.
In the afternoon the Europa waves at Clarence Island, the East-most of the South Shetlands. Precipitous and inhospitable it is neighbour to the most known Elephant, where 22 men of the Transantarctic Expedition led by Shackleton spent about 4 months waiting for rescue.
Glaciers, cliffs, mountains and severe looking coasts define this small archipelago. Hard to imagine the challenges for survival that Shackleton’s party experienced once they set foot on land here, after the loss of their ship, the Endurance, crashed in the Weddell Sea ice, and their lives for over a year on the drifting ice floes.
The rich seas between the Antarctic Peninsula and those islands represent good feeding grounds for birds and whales. Flocks of Cape petrels and Fulmars fly around the whole day. An occasional Light mantled albatross delights us with its elegant flight. In the distance several Fin and Humpback whales blow.