Friday, 31 December 2010

Day 20 – Objective: Campbell Island

The day began at 0600 with wake-up calls, mustering the troops for breakfast and briefing. This morning's landings were presented as a military operation. The first group would hit the beaches at 0830 and face the enemy almost instantly they boarded the Zodiacs to shore. Instead of entrenched machine guns and land mines, the obstacles included a scary 40 knot wind blowing across the harbour driving sleet and rain like shrapnel. The first party wouldn't meet their objective for almost eight hours after a mighty hike across 'the saddle' down to Northwest Bay and back for extraction mid-afternoon, all the time savage gusts assailed them. Casualties began arriving back aboard within two hours, wet and bedraggled, the initial resistance had forced a partial withdrawal, but the survivors valiantly pursued their target. A second wave landed at 1030 and a third at 1400 which included several survivors of the first assault. The whole significance of this beachhead was to secure sightings and photos of the great albatross that breed here. Rodney even called it the 'Albatross Headquarters of the Southern Ocean'. After the day's operations and a hearty meal of lamb shanks and pork belly, Ewen's photography competition winners were announced and the day declared a success.