We first assembled as a group well over a year ago, beneath the maritime oil paintings and club notices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club off St James’s. (Jackets and ties for the gentlemen, lipstick and a little dress and heels for me, ahem.) As we chatted sedately over the cutlets and claret, South Georgia seemed a very long way off – in time as well as distance.
At a second dinner a few months later we were joined by Stephen Venables, the eminent mountaineer and writer who will be our guide, and Skip Novak, the owner of Pelagic Australis, the aluminium-hulled high-latitudes expedition yacht in which we shall sail from Stanley in the Falklands to King Haakon Bay on South Georgia.
Both these old hands warned us (we are not quite in our 20s, any of us, although Tom and Gavin are not so very much beyond that…) to use the intervening months to train and get fit – or risk having a hideous time.
Sailors: check out www.pelagic.co.uk. We’ll be aboard this one, the larger of Skip’s fine boats, the 74-foot Australis.
And see also the South Georgia website, www.sgisland.gs