Friday, January 22, 2010
Major problem with kelp everywhere - trying to stay in deep water. Half an hour of furious work with chart, plotter and pencil transferring a string of waypoints to the computer - Cook had the same problem but he did not have a chart and sent Discovery ahead to find a way through.
Bright sunlight again - snow on Presqu'ile de la Societe de Geographie and Cook Glacier just visible behind it. We could not have picked a better day - so far!
Could be a long day - we both have to stay awake but opportunities between waypoints for one or other to grab half an hour if we get lucky.
Earlier, I saw a mother seal up on the mossy slope above the promontory where de Rochegude left his bottle. She had two biggish pups and was chasing them around. Penguins swimming around the boat and what sounded like fish sucking the growth from Berri's bottom. A seal somewhere close.
I guess it can't last - we have been so lucky to arrive on one of what must be very few cloudless days - weirdly unbelievable that we are here at all. The reports I have read talk of the bleak, desolate dreariness of the place but I don't think I will ever be able to think of it that way. Soft northerly at the moment, due to turn westerly and the usual blast later tonight or tomorrow morning with another bigger one to follow. But we cracked today. Yeeehaaa!
Next morning - while I was writing all that, the cloud rolled in, the stars disappeared and the wind came up. Three hours in a loverly warm sleeping bag later and I'm up again and shivering. But it's still bleakly beautiful! The sun has risen directly behind the two huge pillars of the collapsed arch at the entrance to the harbour putting them in silhouette - filtered light through the low overcast. We are hoping our single anchor will hold in the 35 knots forecast for the next 24-36 hours - will have to lay the second one if it looks iffy. The NW winds blow directly over the saddle at the western end of the harbour and funnel down between the high sides.
There was also an engraving of the harbour in Ross' account, showing Erebus and Terror at anchor, one of them almost in the same position as we are now. They too went to the NW passage with Franklin ten years or so later and they are still there, somewhere off King William Island with the bones of their crews. We felt the presence of their ghosts up there, particularly in Simpson Strait. I never imagined we'd meet them again, let alone here, almost at the opposite end of the planet.
Wonderful to have it all with us, Doug. Thanks!
When we set off from Cape Town, I thought that Kerguelen might be a bridge too far. Boneheadedness sometimes wins out. So, a Talisker this evening, courtesy of Pete Goss.