Hero and the South Georgia Expedition
As seen in the slide show
One of the most memorable periods
of my 25 years as a merchant mariner was between
1974 and 1978 while I was radio officer aboard the R/V Hero. Hero was built by
the National Science Foundation, specifically to do scientific research in
in conjunction with Palmer Station was half of a two part scientific platform
The Hero is 125 feet long, 30
feet wide. She is oak planked and sheathed with South American “Greenheart”.
For power there are two 380 HP diesel engines. Under power her top speed was 12
knots and under sail about 8 knots. Most of the time underway we motor sailed
her. This technique used the sails to minimize the uncomfortable rolling
tendency which is a result of her shallow draft and a round bottom. The design
was derived from a class of vessel known as ”
Today she is owned by a fisherman
by the name of Bill Wechter and is berthed in
During my time aboard I saw her
grounded twice once at
The focus of this slide show is on one of the 35 separate
expeditions in which I was privileged to participate aboard Hero.
It was to the
Historically it was used by several nations as a convenient
location for whaling stations. Today these stations are ghost towns. They have
been generally uninhabited since before WWII. The harbors are called Grytvicken,
I visited there as a member of the technical support team
for a groop of scientists aboard the Hero. Frank Todd, Curator for Sea World San
Diego and Dr. Donald Siniff noted authority on evolution from the
A brief visit was made at Gritvicken to visit the BAS station and to replenish Hero’s water supply. The British butchered a reindeer for the occasion. Norwegian Whalers put the reindeers on the island back around the turn of the century. They have prospered and must be thinned from time to time to prevent over population. The only other land animal on the island is the wharf rat that also arrived about a century ago aboard ships. The rats have experienced considerable evolution due to the severe weather conditions and general change in their normal habitat. Most are only slightly larger than mice.
There are no trees or underbrush. Only tussock grass grows along the lowlands adjacent to the beach.
The grandeur of the panorama that presents itself to visitors is unparalleled.
Shear cliffs, glaciers and an incredible quantity of wild life, all a backdrop for many virtually untouched historical sites. Here there are enough relics to fill a dozen marine museums.
While wandering through Stromness I discovered half a dozen Binnacles beautifully crafted and large enough to accommodate the largest sailing vessels. These units were complete and in like-new condition. There were maybe, 100 small boats strewn about in various stages of disintegration also a fortune in solid brass ships propellers each weighing well over a ton. A floating dry-dock was tied up at the landing and appeared to be in useable condition. A narrow gauged railroad stretched off toward the center of town. Wild pintail ducks swam in the stream unafraid of approaching humans. I had the feeling that I could move in and live into any of the many facilities provided, with little effort.
While I was on
Click here for slide show about South Georgia