It's storming on South Georgia Island today. The Sea Explorer is tossing and turning in large ocean swells. Our normal itinerary for today has gone out the window. The group leader of our trip is in consultation with the captain of the ship in an attempt to develop an alternative plan. A decision is made to enter the Drygalski Fjord on the southern part of the island. None of the staff has ever been to this bay before. We are told to remember, "flexibility is the key."
This fjord is an estuary that is 1 mile wide and recedes 7 miles in a northwesterly direction. It is entered immediately north of Nattriss Head along South Georgia's southeast coast. Discovered during the Second German Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1912, this invagination was named after the leader of the First German Antarctica Expedition of 1901-1903, Eric Von Drygalski.
The Sea Explorer enters this gulf and proceeds inland a few miles. The weather is rough, but seems to be improving as we go. Almost miraculously, the ocean undulations abate and blue skies break through the clouds. The changes in the weather on South Georgia Island are spectacular!
As we peer over the bow of the Sea Explorer, we see unimaginably colorful icebergs floating by towering glaciated mountains. These appear quite ornate with multiple geometric patterns evident. The water depth, we're told, is up to 200 meters where the Risting Glacier drops into the Drygalski Fjord.
As luck would have it, the weather has completely cleared. The zodiacs are lowered, and tours around the fjord in small groups are now possible. This is as much fun for the naturalist who is driving our zodiac as it is for us, in that he has never been here before.
While we cruise along the circumference of the bay, we hear a loud crash as ice from a glacier calves off and spills into the inlet. Numerous birds take off looking for safer surroundings, a marvelous scene. They will return shortly, after the rumbling from the falling ice subsides.
Having skirted a fair distance of the coastline, I realize that we've been on this zodiac cruise for almost 2 hours. It is incredible to me that the Drygalski Fjord has been, perhaps, one of the greatest examples of natural beauty I've seen in the world. In fact, South Georgia Island, in general, has moved near the top of my list as the best combination of physical elegance and wildlife that earth has to offer.
Our time on South Georgia Island has come to an end. The Sea Explorer will now make the 3-day excursion across the Northern Scotia Sea to Antarctica. Having experienced the ocean turbulence on the way to South Georgia, this time I have decided to take my sea sickness medication. The show goes on...