FROM 2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Baie de L'Oiseau

Impossible to convey the thrill, the absolute delight, the quiet satisfaction – here we are, anchored in Baie de L’Oiseau, 236 years after Ensign de Rochegude landed here from L’Oiseau and claimed the place for the French and left his message sealed in a quart bottle which Cook’s men found 3 years later and Cook replaced with his own added message. We are anchored opposite the little headland where that bottle was found and replaced. Brilliant sunshine, powder blue water, kelp patches, king penguins and seals on the beach about 500 metres away and the sounds of the penguins at least just like the Falklands. Seabirds – cormorants and other divers, Lovely Cape Petrels escorting us in. Last 15 miles on the wind in 25 knots and rising sea – interesting! Cape Petrels all the way! Worth every little thump of the headbang getting here from Cape Town. We have been lucky, once again but the plan worked perfectly and, for once, the Examiner was looking the other way. Spellbinding! Once in a lifetime exhilaration – more immediate than sailing out of the NW passage but comparable to Cape Horn.

I wonder how many other vessels have anchored here since de Rochegude. Far more than made the NW Passage although up there, the whaling ships in the Bering Strait, Chukchi and Beaufort seas must have numbered in the thousands on the western approach to Amundsen Gulf. And on the subject of Amundsen: From Malcom again:

AW, You are in good company. On 28 Nov 1910 Roald Amundsen in the Fram hove
to in sight of what he took to be Bligh’s Cap while he waited until he
good get a clear fix on his position before sailing to Baie Morbihan. This
was while en route to his 1910 -1912 Antarctic expedition. Malcom

Roald Amundsen – someone else we have been following around. He was the first to sail the NW Passage, (we were the 77th vessel, the 114th transit) and here he is again. He completed the NW Passage at Nome in 1906 and was down here in Fram 4 years later. We visited Teller from Nome, where many years later he and Nobile ended their airship crossing of the north pole.

We intend to wait here until the next big front has blown through – perhaps 48 hours – then sail for Port aux Francais. Unimaginably bleakly beautiful here – classic igneous landscape, thick moss, no other obvious vegetation except the Kerguelen Cabbage which I think we can see in little clumps. Binoculars only – we might try to land tomorrow if the wind dies but on the assumption that it is a national park, we will leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing away except photos. A massive igneous extrusion just to the south of us which looks for all the world like one of the President’s faces on Mt. Rushmore – but transmogrified as a lizard.

Malcom, tks for advice – will try on departure.

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