Blue Whale Harbour

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sat 13 Feb 2016 00:53

54:04.5S 37:01.1W

Caramor is sitting out yet another gale, this time in Blue Whale Harbour but the party on the beach carries on regardless of the raging blizzard. From a fur seal point of view, summer in South Georgia must be as hip as Ibiza was for my generation when we were eighteen. Hot, fun, a great place to meet a girl or two or four, loads of friends around to look after the kids and even swimming classes in the lagoon. Several large males have occupied the sea caves along the shore and are holding a 'who can roar the loudest' contest. It's going to be a close run thing.   

The caves at Blue Whale Harbour 

Just around the corner is Possession Bay. This is where Captain Cook first landed in 1775 and claimed the island for the King of England. The island was named Georgia in honour of the monarch. I'm guessing the event was reported in the following manner: "Your Highness, Cook has discovered another new island and named it after you." "Really? tell me, this island, what is it like?" "Well, your Highness, it is bloody cold, the wind howls, there is more snow than soil and it is covered in smelly penguins and seals." "Groan." The story has it that Cook ordered muskets to be fired and the men to salute, "much to the astonishment of the local inhabitants, the penguins and seals" recounted one of his officers.

At 6am this morning, we slipped our lines and motored out of Grytviken. Windora was back alongside Kestrel at the Tijuca jetty. 

Phil, Gabor, Bernie and Franco spent the last two days tingling her belly. The really good news is that the damage is not as bad as we all feared and the core structure of the yacht is sound. 

Windora is made of wood and coated in fibreglass. The repair couldn't be done in fibreglass as the wood cannot be dried, and the work had to be done between tides while the yacht rested on the sand. Tingling is a traditional way of repairing timber boats, it involves sticking and screwing a plate over the damaged area. All the underwater work has been completed, leaving one repair above the waterline and the rudder which is drying. 

Windora and Villvind (OCC member) with Kestrel and Izuma behind at the Tijuca jetty

Kestrel was the only boat at Husvik which did not drift in the strong winds. We all wondered why, particularly Kestrel who have form when it comes to anchor dragging. They have 8mm chain, perhaps on the light side for a heavy yacht, Windora has 12mm and we have 10mm but Caramor weighs half as much as the other two yachts. Gabor and Isolde found out when they tried to raise their anchor, it had caught onto a hawser (thick rope) left over from the whaling era and it took a hard hour to get it up.

Sugar Top Mountain in the early morning

A week ago, I sat down with pen and paper to draw up a plan for our last ten days in South Georgia. I fancied doing some more kayaking, visiting the wandering albatross breeding site at Prion Island, taking some photos of king penguins swimming at Salisbury Plain and going for a walk on a glacier. South Georgia is a hard unforgiving place and there is a saying amongst seamen "In the forties there is no law, in the fifties, there is no god." We beg to differ and subscribe instead to Franco's favourite Jewish joke: "How do you make God laugh? You tell him about your plans!"

Our South Georgia permits run out on Monday and we are looking for a weather window. We have become accustomed to sailing in strong winds, force 6 passes for a gentle breeze here, a wind strong enough to keep us in harbour in the UK. Anything less than a full gale is good sailing weather.