12th.February, South Georgia, Stromness and Grytviken
After the beautiful weather of the previous day it was disappointing to wake up to low cloud and rain again, especially as we were supposed to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps on a walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness whaling station. The walk, which would of course only have been the last little bit of Shackleton’s epic crossing of the island, was cancelled, but some people went on land anyway. I stayed on the ship as I was still somewhat tired from the exertions of the previous long day and there was more to come. We departed Fortuna Bay, and sailed round to Stromness passing Leith Harbour on the way. We viewed both these ruined whaling stations from the ship and since it is anyway not allowed for safety reasons to approach within 200m of them we were not missing that much.
The weather was improving as our route continued to Cumberland Bay, where we went ashore in a small bay North of Grytviken, which could then be reached on foot. This walk was only up to a height of about 200m and only half the length of the planned historic walk but it was quite adequate. It was already late when we started and we did not arrive in Grytviken until about 6.30pm. The pictures show Elke, the assistant expedition leader, counting her charges, sitting having a rest at the highest point and arriving in Grytviken. This is the only whaling station which has been restored and boasts a museum and a souvenir shop. Shackleton’s grave, which is surrounded by stinking elephant seals, can also be visited before returning to the ship. By this time the sun had set and it was becoming quite dark. The last rays of light were just catching the tops of the highest mountains. Instead of dinner a barbeque on the helicopter deck was then announced! The staff from the research station were invited and I was talking to the local plumber. I did not participate in the music and dancing, but stayed quite late until it became too cold despite all the layers I was wearing. Another very long day!