Today was a long day. Today was a challenging day. Today was a beautiful day. Today was an exhilarating day.
As early as 04.00 hours, sleep was disturbed by different sounds for some of us. Out in the dark, off our portside, we saw the ship that was to supply us with the fuel required to continue our epic voyage. Within a short time, we were loosely tethered via bow and stern lines to the Edinburgh and the essential umbilical cord connected to the fuel inlet on National Geographic Explorer, which was not anchored. And so began, for our Captain, the long vigil that he would hold controlling the ship from the port bridge wing for the duration of the refueling, which ended midday.
As the new day broke, we were witnesses to a beautiful sunrise over the island of Tristan da Cunha. The island rose precipitously, showing verdant lower slopes that rapidly disappeared under swirling, low clouds that shrouded the rest of the island.
After an earlier than usual breakfast, we boarded Zodiacs for different shore excursions. A special mention must be made in recognition of the wonderful ABs who assisted us in and out of the boats throughout the morning. Conditions at the side gate were decidedly bumpy and challenging, but the AB’s advice and their sturdy grips helped us safely enjoy the island.
It didn’t matter if we chose the volcano hike, the potato patches, the tour of the town, or simply time to wander on our own. Each option offered opportunities to enjoy a stunning morning on this remote isle, to speak to the locals, and to savor this very special place.
Off in the distance, Inaccessible Island remained shrouded in clouds and was therefore truly inaccessible to us. It remained as such for the whole day.
During lunch, we headed for the Island of Nightingale for a planned Zodiac cruise.
Midafternoon, we boarded trusty Zodiacs with local guides to enjoy this very different island. What a wonderful experience awaited us. In the lee of the wind and the chop, we had close views of many subtropical fur seals, including some ridiculously cute and teeny tiny pups on the rocks and in the waters. Occasionally, we caught glimpses of the Tristan thrush and nightingale bunting popping out of the grasses along the coastline.
The highlights may have been the northern rockhopper penguins that we observed in good numbers along the upper rocky shores, their spectacular plumes blowing in the breeze. What a wonderful experience.
Other seabirds flew about the Zodiacs as we cruised along this spectacular location. All too soon, we had to return to the mother ship and head back for Tristan da Cunha to leave our guides before sunset.
As we sailed across the waters, we chatted on the decks under blue skies and in balmy temperatures. We enjoyed seeing the islands covered in beautiful lenticular clouds of different sizes, shapes, and colors. At one point, Nightingale Island seemed to have many flying saucers stacked up above the tallest peaks.
We plopped into bed after dinner, deeply thankful for a great day. We knew that we had really lucked out with the weather.