Going South to St Helena

It was unexpected but being on the first plane ever to fly from Ascension Island to St Helena was something special and not to be missed.

There are plenty of discussions elsewhere on the rights and wrongs of the airport being where it is and the need for tourism in St Helena so it serves little purpose for me to mention it further.

Suffice it to say that our plane landed, not once but twice, without any issues. It’s a beautiful island in The South Atlantic 10 miles long by 5 miles wide. It’s probably best known as the place Napoleon was exiled at Longwood House for 5 years and where he eventually died with a tomb built for him – both photographed below. We had a brief tour of the Island. The photos below are a very brief summary. Jonathan the 189 year old giant tortoise wandering across the lawn at Plantation house. Jamestown viewed from the top of Jacob’s ladder 699 steps up from the town.

It was literally a flying visit. There is plenty for tourists to see and do. Hopefully the issues will be sorted out soon to open the island up.

Sea Birds of The South Atlantic

 

One of the positive parts of being at sea in The South Atlantic is the abundance of beautiful sea birds. I’m not a great sailor but to be able to see Giant Petrels, Black Browed Albatross, Cape Petrels and Antarctic Terns ( all photographed above) to name but a few is a real bonus. In addition we saw Wilson Storm Petrels, Wandering and Royal Albatross, diving and blue Petrels – the list goes on and on. I’ll save that for another time.

I have been fortunate to see Albatross before but the first time you are looking up towards the sky to check to see where it is and then suddenly as one comes into view it’s confirmed then you can’t mistake one for anything else. With a wingspan between 2 and 3 metres it gracefully soars above the water as it gets lift from the wake of the ship. Absolutely beautiful in its grace.

 

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The snow petrel ( photographed above)is another resident. It’s only one of three birds that exclusively breeds in Antarctica. On this occasion using a very fast shutter speed ( 1 /8000th of a second) I’ve captured the pure white of the bird against and almost equally white sky.

There’s no time to be bored on a ship – standing with the binoculars at the stern, in amongst the regular followers there is always something new to see.

Antarctica – A Lifelong Dream

It’s been said that you should never meet your heroes as you’ll invariably be disappointed. I was hoping that it wasn’t going to apply to one of the places that i’ve wanted to visit for many, many years.

It’s possible to fly to The Antarctic peninsula but I didn’t believe, for me, that it was in the spirit of adventure. 100 years ago, in 1915 Shackleton had travelled by ship to get stuck in ice in The Weddell Sea. Surely the mode of transport would need to be by ship – hopefully we wouldn’t meet the same fate.

We left from Puerto Madryn and would be travelling down to The Falkland Islands, to South Georgia, onto The Antarctic Peninsula and then back to Ushuaia in Argentina.

Gentle sailing to The Falklands and from there the South Atlantic started to liven up with up to 15 metre swells and 70 knot winds as low pressure after low pressure squeezed through The Drake Passage.

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It really puts things into perspective, the ocean is huge and immensely powerful. In comparison we certainly aren’t. We were in a 90 metre ship which at times felt, as it was being tossed about, like a small rowing boat. The sight of land at South Georgia after 2 days was very welcome