Iron Bark II

Iron Bark II

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I first crossed the Atlantic in 1975 on 'Stormalong', a 28ft Wharram-designed catamaran. Back in the UK, Pete and I bought an ex 6-metre racing yacht, 'Sheila', living on her for 4 years. Wanting to do more and go further, we built 'Badger' - the best boat in the world - sailing her 110,000 miles, to the Arctic and the Antarctic, around the Atlantic North and South and into the Baltic. She had junk rig - the only rig I will ever now cruise with. Pete wanted to build a 38 ft junk-rigged catamaran, 'China Moon' - which he designed. But before the project was finished, we went our separate ways. A year later I joined Trevor Robertson aboard his 35ft 'Iron Bark'. We explored the Canadian Maritimes, crossed the Atlantic twice, wintered in Greenland and crossed the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand. I fell in love with NZ and jumping ship, bought my own boat while Trevor carried on voyaging. I put a junk rig onto ‘Fantail’ and, having decided that N Island offered better cruising opportunities than S Island, sailed up there in 2012. Looking for a boat to see me out, I built the 26ft 'FanShi' and now live on board her, pottering about, generally around the Bay of Islands.

Wednesday, 17 July 2024



54o31'S 36o04'W

Chart 3585, Moltke Harbour

Royal Bay appears to be another windy place in South Georgia. There is a low pass at the head of the Ross Glacier that leads to the SW coast and this may well account for the strong winds blowing from the glacier on our visit. On entering and leaving the Bay, a fresh to strong W wind was blowing off the glacier, but offshore and N and S of the Bay there was a light NE wind. There was a belt of confusing winds and a nasty short sea between the two.

The W corner of Moltke Harbour near the SW end of the beach seemed to give reasonable shelter from the W wind with only a few squalls. From the sea, it is sheltered from S through W to NE.

Anchor in 7.5m, no kelp. There was only one small piece of ice in the harbour when visited, but S or E winds could well send in a large quantity. The Pilot warns of extremely strong gusts in this harbour, no doubt associated with gales.

This is the furthest south that the southern reindeer herd ranges, as the Ross glacier forms an impassable barrier. An old BAS hut, which is used as a refuge, is sited on the NE side of the valley. The roof of the hut was rotten, when visited.

On entering the Harbour, the remains of the German South Georgia expedition of 1882-83 can just be made out, situated on the N shore. A landing can be made on the beach by the site, but it is a long row from the anchorage, especially if a fresh breeze is blowing. It should also be possible to walk round from the head of the harbour, but this would mean traversing a couple of scree slopes.



54o30'S 36o00'W

Chart 3597, South Georgia

A narrow strait separates Harcourt Island from the coast and in reasonable weather forms a shortcut inside Harcourt Island to and from Royal Bay. It is possible to anchor in this, off the island in a small pool.

The pool is approximately 50m across and a vessel will need to moor or to take lines ashore to keep near its centre. The depth is 4m and it is clear of kelp. The channel runs N-S and the anchorage is open to the sea from these directions, but is otherwise sheltered. When visited, there were a few pieces of ice on the beach on Harcourt Island.

The accompanying sketch chart and photographs show the channel and anchorage. This passage is probably best avoided in strong winds and/or a large swell. Harcourt Island seemed to be out of the line of the W wind blowing in Royal Bay.


54o25'S 36o10'W

Chart 3597, South Georgia

The shelter offered by the headland at the N end of the beach is better than it appears on the chart and provides protection from the sea from S through W and N to NE. Tuck well into the northern corner and anchor in about 5.5m. No kelp.

A very large King Penguin colony is situated at the moraine close behind the beach. In clear weather, with Mount Paget and the other peaks for a backdrop, it is a spectacular sight and a popular place for visiting wildlife camera crews.

To visit the penguin colony it is easiest to land S of the glacier stream, if the swell permits. The stream runs very strongly and is usually at least 60cm deep. Several people have been knocked over by the force of the current. The landing at the N end of the beach is less subject to swell. Near the round bluff that projects from the headland, there is a narrow channel in the flat rocks where landing may be possible, even with a large surf on the beach.

On the N side of the moraine, several hundred metres from the beach is a BAS hut, now used as a refuge.

Even if there is too much swell to land so that one can visit the penguin colony, it is well worth a sail along the beach (6m depth quite close in) to view this spectacle.


Sunday, 14 July 2024


54o20'S 36o16'W

Chart 3597, South Georgia

This well-protected harbour is the site of an old whaling station, that was closed down in 1920, when it was amalgamated with Stromness. Not much of the buildings remain, but there is a narrow-gauge steam locomotive, lying on its side to the N of the site and the wreck of the Bayard can be seen on the S shore. This iron-hulled vessel was built in Liverpool in 1864 and was wrecked in 1911, when she broke adrift from the coaling jetty (the remains of which can be seen on the N shore) in a severe gale, was driven ashore and holed.

The bay is open to the E, but apart from this, there is complete protection from the sea. The chart shows a rock, but we saw no sign of it and the scale is too small to identify its position accurately. Once past the bluff, at the S entrance to the harbour keep to the middle of the bay where there is less kelp.

The remains of a light structure can be seen on the bluff.

Anchor near the head of the bay in 5.5m. There is kelp about, but it is not very thick.


Friday, 12 July 2024


54o16'S 36o18'W                                                                           Chart 3589, Cobbler's Cove



A narrow entrance leads into this small cove, which offers complete shelter from the sea.  The land to the NW rises very steeply, which suggests that this may well be a bad place for katabatic winds in a NW gale.

The entrance is straightforward and by taking a sweep to the S, once past the narrows, most of the kelp is avoided. 

Anchor off the beach at the W end, in 6.5m, in a patch clear of kelp.

Cobbler's Cove is shown as Pleasant Harbour on old charts.  It is possibly named for white-chinned petrels that nested there: old-time sailors referred to them as 'shoemakers'.



54o17'S 36o17'W                                                                                       Chart 3589, Godthul


Godthul was another harbour used by the whalers, but here there was a factory ship and the whales were flensed, while they were still floating, from Jolle boats.  Artifacts from these days can still be seen ashore; there are, for example, a couple of tanks, the remains of a shed, a heap of oak and steel barrels, three Jolle boats and several dinghies.  The beach is strewn with whale bones. 

The ruins are in the SE corner of the bay and, tucked in here, there is complete protection from the sea.  However, there is a 1 mile fetch with winds from the N or NW.  Anchor in a patch clear of kelp, off the shed, in about 6.5m.