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Sea Journal -52 Day Cape to Cape

Europa in South georgia

Places Europa has Visited on past 52 day voyages

South Georgia 

Elsehul

This might be a first anchorage. Elsehul has steep cliffs protecting the Inner Bay. Grey-headed Albatrosses nest on a peninsula between the tussock grass. The beaches of South Georgia are inundated with fur and elephant seals, so you have to learn how to cross the beaches safely.

Bay of islands - Prion Island

Tens of thousands of King Penguins live in the Bay of Isles. Hopefully we can make a landing still today on Prion Island. Together with Albatross Island, this island is an important breeding ground for the Wandering Albatross. Albatrosses lay their eggs in the middle of the summer; their chicks stay from December, until the next spring on their nests. These birds need an open area of 30 square metres around the nest for taking off and landing. While visiting Prion Island we will follow the even more strict rules to protect these delicate birds.

Wandering Albatross on Prion Island. Photo Debbie Purser
Wandering Albatross on Prion Island. Photo Debbie Purser

Salisbury Plain for King Penguins in their Millions

Whilst almost every expedition ship aims to land here, the sheer number of King Penguins make it exceptional. A curved bay backed by mountains provides an amphitheatre full of breeding penguins and seals on a vast scale.

Only St Andrews Bay, further down the coast comes close to the impact of wandering amongst millions of penguins. 

Stromness - Shackleton's salvation

Shackleton landed on the more inhospitable side of the island and with 2 colleagues had to climb over the 2000 metre mountain chain and down the other side to find other humans at Stromness Whaling Station. You might have time to walk some of his trek on the lower slopes..

Grytviken Whaling Museum

There is even a jetty here so you might be able to moor up for a change. You can wander the deserted Norwegian Grytviken whaling station. The Whaling musuem is run by volunteers and there is a small shop to buy your souvenirs. Relics and memorabilia from the Antarctic whaling industry are preserved. Its well worth to visit the romantic whaling church dating from 1913. The graves of the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild are here so you can toast their courage with more understanding of what they have gone through now you have sailed the same waters. The whole bay is rich in penguins, fur seals, and elephant seals who come very close, so you need to be vigilant not to upset them or accidentally tread on them.

Norwegian chapel at Gryitviken whaling station.
Norwegian chapel at Gryitviken whaling station.

Ship Wrecks & Katabatic Winds

Whilst many of the habours look perfect little havens, the winds can rustle down the mountains. Look for lenticular clouds on the mountain summits and beware sudden katabatic winds. There are constant reminders here of a ships fate it they drag their anchor.

One of the most beautiful shipwrecks is in Ocean Harbour. She is a fully rigged ship and was one of the first to be built in steel. The ‘Banyard’ was constructed in 1864 in Liverpool and in her we clearly see the conversion from wood to steel built ships. In that time many people didn’t believe in modern steel. Other wrecks in South Georgia include the ‘Brutus’ (1883) in Prince Olav Harbour and the wooden ‘Louise’ in Grytviken. Blue eyed shag gratefully use this industrial monument as a place to built there nest. Ashore between the wallowing elephants seals we find an old locomotive which was used by the whalers to transport tran oil and other cargo back and forth between the station and the dock.

Cooper Bay & Cobblers Cove

In this bay at the south-eastern point of South Georgia there are rookeries of Macaroni Penguins, but its quite a trek. They nest at the bottom of steep cliffs and can be watched and photographed quite easily. We will probably also come across various small colonies of Chinstrap Penguins, one of the few colonies of its kind on South Georgia. If the weather is calm you might get a chance to take the ship through a narrow entrance into nearby Cobblers Cove. This circular natural harbour is very deep but the cliffs are almost all around.

There are still more places to possibly visit like Drygalski Fjord, Prince Olavs harbour, but there is a lot of ocean to cross and eventually Europa will have to set off on the biggest ocean journey of the voyage so far.

Ocean Passage to Cape Town 

Arching up towards Tristan da Cuhna means the weather gets warmer.  You might even feel like sandals on deck. This remote Island has a small community living here that loves to meet the rare visiting ship. The swell makes it difficult to land here, but it is a pretty special stamp on your passport if you do.

Roll on down the Westerlies towards Cape Town.

 

WINDS, WAVES & WEATHER

South to the Antarctic Peninsula you cross the Antarctic convergence zone and seas drop to zero degrees. Air temperatures and wind chill can feel very cold but often warmer than a high altitude ski resort in Europe.

Antarctica to South Georgia - Could be very big seas but sea and air temperatures will be above freezing.

South Georgia to Tristan Da Cuhna - getting warmer but remains very windy most the time.

Read our website page on Antarctic climate and weather conditions

 

 

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AGILITY & FITNESS

Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office on 01872 58 00 22 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.

We have written a recent article on 'How Agile do I need to be for Antarctica?'

 

 

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