Tale of ‘trip of a lifetime’

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President Duncan Brown welcomed a good turnout of members to Kirriemuir Probus Club’s latest meeting and introduced guest speaker John Alexander from Broughty Ferry.

John spoke some years ago to the club about his experiences as a young man working for Christian Salveson at their whaling station Leith Harbour in South Georgia for several seasons.

Two years ago he made the ‘Trip of a Lifetime’, a return visit to remote South Georgia, this time sailing in the yacht Pelagic Australis, after two days travelling to the Falkland Islands.

The group sailing with him was comprised of scientists, mountaineers, artists and photographers, who after five days of sailing in largely bad weather to South Georgia, spent 18 days exploring the islands.

John, an expert photographer, showed fine images of the mountains, glaciers, derelict whaling stations and rusting whale catching vessels seen by the party, plus pictures of Shackleton’s grave and from a museum set up on the main island, showing many artefacts of interest.

He also showed some pictures he took in the 1950s, for comparison, and many of the wildlife encountered – king and gentoo penguins, reindeer, seals including leopard seals, albatross and skuas.

John, a member of the South Georgia Association, explained that plans are underway to firstly eradicate the main island of rats, then attempt to get the island back to the pristine state it was before seal hunters and then whalers used it as a base for their activities.

A vote of thanks for a well-presented and interesting talk was proposed by Jim Smith who voiced his appreciation of John’s photography, both his recent & his original 1950s images.

The next meeting of Kirriemuir Probus Club is on Wednesday, March 20, when John Dein will talk on the ‘Caledon Shipyard’.