Days At Sea: Crossing to South Georgia

In anticipation of the journey, there was one area I was a little anxious about. It was the 4 or 5 days at sea (rough seas + small boat) and the likelihood of seasickness. So I steeled myself for the worst case scenario while I armed myself with my trusty motion sickness remedies of Scopalamine patches and a Relief wrist band. 

The days at sea would center on meals - with seabird spotting, bridge chats, cozy naps and countless mugs of hot tea.
Hans Hansson window view: Crossing between Falkland islands and south Georgia (and an albatross in the distance)

Hans Hansson window view: Crossing between Falkland islands and south Georgia (and an albatross in the distance)

In retrospect, these days spent crossing from the Falkland Islands to the island of South Georgia proved to be an important passage. It provided time to get accustomed to the motion, get to know the group, digitally detox and find a new rhythm for the exciting days to come.

Day 1: First Day at Sea - Finding my sea legs (Hope I packed them)!

First night was alright. I tried to sleep but the motion woke me up every few hours. My first thought each time I awoke was: am I feeling seasick? Glad to report the answer was no.

I heard some chatter at about 8 am so I decided to go up for breakfast; slid my curtain back to find my roommate was already up and out of the room. I headed up stairs to the saloon where breakfast was laid out in a serve yourself style. I love coffee so I was thrilled to see a French Press coffee maker on the table. Decided to try a little mueslix to keep breakfast simple and not upset my stomach. The conversation reflected everyone's concern with motion sickness and how their absent-from-the table roommate was faring. Most ate and returned to their cabins to lay down.

I was too excited to consider the wisdom of resting. A quick reconnoitre to find the bridge, aft deck and drying room. I returned to my room to grab my camera and jacket to sit on the aft deck to watch the seabirds. A few Black-browed albatross and Wandering albatross maneuvered in the sky and behind swells. I could watch them soar all day and almost did. Stayed out until I got too chilled and I came in for tea.
 

HANS HANSSON: Stern deck area - great for birdwatching (PICTURED: MY ROOMMATE & EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHEr - this was her 3rd visit to south Georgia!) 

HANS HANSSON: Stern deck area - great for birdwatching

(PICTURED: MY ROOMMATE & EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHEr - this was her 3rd visit to south Georgia!) 


Day 2: At Sea - Keep one hand for the boat


Only a handful of people at breakfast - some people I have not seen since our dockside dinner in Stanley on Saturday.

I really enjoyed sitting in the bridge to see this open expanse of water and watch the movement. Sitting in the warm bridge also gave me an opportunity to ask questions about navigation, the weather - and get to know the Skipper, First Mate and crew member in the process.

The weather report indicated rougher seas for the next few days and it was suggested this would be good time to take a shower.

HANS HANSSON: Shower

HANS HANSSON: Shower

A nice hot shower sounded great and due to the boat’s motion I was instructed to sit in the shower.  The hot water felt great and was quite relaxing. Afterwards, I was feeling all comfy in my cabin and tried to climb up into my bunk. At the same moment a big swell hit the boat and (boom!) the boat pitched. I was thrown about 6 feet (2 meters) to the door without my feet touching the ground.  Ouch. This ‘exercist moment’ reminded me to always keep 'one hand for the boat' (or sometimes 2 are better). 


Day 3: At Sea - Convergence, Naps and Protocol


Sometime this day we passed the Antarctic Convergence and reached the Southern Ocean! The air seemed colder and the sea was a little rougher. There were fewer seabirds following us now.

My new routine of breakfast, bridge, aft deck was repeated through the day with a nap or two thrown in. And I started preparing and assembling my gear for our first landing: waterproof layer, dry bag, charge batteries, pack backpack, etc.

Enjoying these naps. I loved my cozy bunk where I could slide a privacy curtain and watch the sea through a porthole and write in my journal. (Found out later I should have sealed my porthole closed while at sea!)

HANS HANSSON: MY PORTHOLE VIEW

HANS HANSSON: MY PORTHOLE VIEW

After a spaghetti dinner, we watched a video of the rat eradication project on South Georgia. It was made by one of the German filmakers on board. It led to a discussion on the environmental protocol for disembarking and embarking. We were to clean our boots and all equipment before each landing and after each landing to avoid cross contamination.
After this video and discussion of actually putting our boots on land, it was starting to sink in that South Georgia was hours away now.


Day 4: Still At Sea - Rough Night & Rough Day


Noticeably more motion today. Spilled my coffee all over myself at breakfast. The boat was moving more and the sea was much rougher. Now I felt a little queasy. Due to the rougher weather, we would likely not land at Elsehul until tomorrow.

I sat in the the bridge almost all day because once I crawled up the stairs, I didn’t want to move until the swells became calmer - and my favorite spot to sit on the aft deck would not be safe. I saw only a few other passengers on this day -  since most (wisely) remained in their bunks.

During this passage, I found myself staring at the sea and being completely content. Preoccupied with the new routine, I barely noticed I was 4 days into a cold turkey digital detox. No social media, emails or texts. Turned out I was leaving behind one world in exchange for another.

And now we were just one day away from landing on the island of South Georgia!