Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.

Order calendars via zakshawphotography@gmail.com or the secure Paypal option below.
My 2014 calendar was entirely photographed on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps. "Land in the West" is printed at a size of A4 with twelve calendar month pages displaying stunning outdoor environment photographs. Take a look at my Facebook page to view all twelve 2014 calendar images! Order here via Paypal or email me at zakshawphotography@gmail.com if you would prefer to pay with online banking. Thanks for your support!
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Exposed Southwest Coast

Bird Sound to Cape Disappointment – South Georgia

Bird Sound is the passage of water separating the mainland of South Georgia from the small islands to the north. In times of bad weather and swell the narrow slot can turn into a turbulent confused passage of crashing whitewater.
A weather window allowed the kayakers to again cover good distance as they rounded the northern bays on route down the exposed southwest coast. Temperatures plummeted encasing the kayaks in ice, sea spray froze on contact with everything.
Our passage through bird sound was uneventful as the prevailing northerly winds calmed. Massive tabular icebergs were more plentiful on the southern coast in varying shapes and sizes.
Holmstrand – 23rd Oct the day involved eight hours of paddling for the boys into a SW breeze continuing the trend of headwinds. All day we moved along rugged coastline, un-charted areas of coast where sea depths are often not known. We kept a watchful eye on the depth sounder, as contact with any un-chartered rock would have had serious repercussions.
Bays and beaches were packed with small blocks of brash ice and huge constricted glaciers.
The night fell with an amazing light on the mountains and calm winds, yet still bitterly cold.

25th Holmstrand to Ducloz head – distance 27 nautical miles

Our entrance into anchorage at Ducloz head was a real test. Shallow reefs blocked a clear line and sporadic depths and clumps of kelp kept us guessing on the best way in to the protected area of the bay. Most anchorages on the southwest coast had specific protection from only one or two directions, reading weather maps and then predicting the sea conditions and what effect that may have on us should a storm suddenly hit or the weather suddenly come from another direction was our primary concern.
We set the zodiac in the water and set about with a handheld depth sounder trying to find the channel. Northhanger had a minimum depth necessary of 3.6 metres. Depths varied from 8 feet to 25 feet within a few metres either side of the channel and guiding the yacht in was often quite stressful. If things suddenly got really shallow the yacht would back off and try a different approach.
Ducloz head was packed with brash ice and trying anchor lines ashore was a tesing exercise, the zodiac was incredibly difficult to manouver through the ice chunks to attach lines or “springers” to rock bollards.

26th Ducloz head to Diaz Cove – distance 22 nautical miles, again cold conditions, the sun had not shone through for over ten days restricting temperatures to rise above 3 or four degrees. These temperatures combined with winds running off the ice and snow and the wet paddling conditions ensured the kayakers and yacht crew on watch often suffered freezing extremities.

27th Oct – 1pm we set off from Diaz Cove on route to the southern most point of South Georgia, Cape Disapointment. Sea depths of 30m+ suddenly dropped out to 10m and we were forced to move cautiously and change direction several times. Watching the sea swell and its movements we looked for piles, lumps and other sea swell movements potentially caused by shallow depths.
As we rounded Cape Disappoinotment the sun finally shone through illuminating icebergs, and the steep faces, gullies and rugged peaks of South Georgia were suddenly in all their glory, we were certainly not disappointed by the spectacle.
Rounding the corner the wind suddenly switched and blew onto our stern and we rode the swell past several bays before cruising up into Drygalski Fiord.

To be continued
Zak Shaw

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

South Georgia,Grytviken-Elsehul

It felt as if we had been traveling for a week when we finally set foot on Falkland Islands soil. After flights from New Zealand via Chile to the overcast, chilly conditions of Stanley, the Falkland Islands weather was appropriate and a good indication of a colder place to come.

The team spent a few days packing, sorting gear, working with camera gear and preparing the yacht for its voyage across the South Atlantic.
Conditions were good, despite sickness (I felt just a little sick) we made great time crossing the 1400km passage in five and a half days.
During the passage huge wandering and black browed albatross circled the yacht.
Towering cloud mass gave our first indication of “land ahoy” and we were greeted by South Georgia for the first time. Glaciers protruding to sea level, ice, incredibly steep peaks overlooking us and cold winds. The atmosphere was intense, it grabbed you and said “I make the rules” It had such a commanding presence about it.

Grytviken is the main base on the island, home to a few scientists. The BAS (British Antarctic Survey) station, is situated here at King Edward point. Grytviken in its hayday was a booming operation during the whaling era. Today its ruins, flensing platforms, oil tanks, boilers, meat saws, whaling vessels are abandoned and rusting away.
The circumnavigation began here.
The boys set off in still conditions with heavy snow, massive snow flakes caked their gear, conditions were certainly not ideal, but one definitely got the impression things could be a lot worse, if we had 20 days like this things certainly wouldn’t be easy but it would increase the chances of it being possible.
More importantly they were on their way, and the distance was getting shorter with every stoke.

Good progress through the first three days paddling was soon brought to an abrupt halt when strong northerly winds pinned the kayakers down at “Salisbury Plains” !7th Oct.
20th Oct paddlers reach “Elsehul” paddling in huge seas, the team struggled into rough conditions with poor visibility.
Elsehul had a reputation for being a very windy anchorage. On a few occasions as we entered the narrow entrance to Elsehul the thought was there to turn around an back off as the passage of water we had to navigate to reach the head of the cove lay close to the sheer ice cliffs. Swell and strong winds were making us a little nervous, it was “touch and go”

From Elsehul the “kiwi kayakers” were keen to restock their food supplies. A supply of Backcoutry Freeze dry meals, lunch and breakfast packs were handed over in prepartion for the beginning of the southern coastline.
Camped onshore, surrounded by Elephant seals, King and Gentoo Penguins, Fur seals and all the bodily fluids they excrete. The place stunk, and the creek flowing above the tent froze over solid that afternoon.

Elsehul is close to the northern most part of the island, the gap dividing the NE and South coasts at this point is very narrow so we made the journey overland to check out Undine Bay. We gave the sporadically placed Fur seals their space. In a months time the whole hillside would be heaving with mating, fighting male and female seals and to walk amongst them then would have been a serious battle, maybe even suicidal.

To be continued
Zak Shaw

Friday, February 03, 2006

Around South Georgia


During the months of October and November of 2005 I was fortunate enough to be invited along to assist a team called Adventure Philosophy. This is a New Zealand expedition team comprised of Graham Charles, Mark Jones and Marcus Waters who were aiming to be the first to circumnavigate the Island of South Georgia in sea kayaks.
Adventure Philosophy had previously been the first to sea kayak the entire length of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2001 and then in 2003 they sea kayaked 500km up the Beagal Channel, then traded paddles for crampons and pioneered a new route through the rugged Cordillera Darwin in Terra Del Fuego, Southern Chilie.

Oct 2005, Adventure Philosophy flew from NZ to the Falkland Islands and launched an attempt. Sharing a latitude with Cape Horn, South Georgia is situated 1400km East of the Falkland Islands and is exposed to some of the most inhospitable weather on the planet.
Sailing onboard the “Northhanger” a 54 four steel hulled ketch specifically designed for travel in the Polar regions, the team set off Oct 6th from Stanley the Falkland Islands main center and headed towards the Antarctic convergence on route to South Georgia.
South Georgia is a wildlife haven and has been referred to as the “Serengeti of the Polar regions” Returning in their thousands in spring each year masses of Elephant seals, Fur Seals, Albatross, and Penguins all congregate on the shores of this remote island to breed.
The numbers of each species are so prolific the beaches with which one would use to land ashore or camp are fiercely guarded and real estate is a scarce commodity.

Kevin Nicolas and myself fulfilled the role of crew members aboard “Northhanger” and were responsible for the supply of weather information to the kayakers as they progressed. Equipped with video and stills camera’s the “2nd unit” would often gain high vantage points in order to capture the kayakers paddling along the precipitous snow covered coastline.

The circumnavigation took 19 days to complete. Paddling in demanding conditions. The kayakers were tested the entire time by temperatures so cold ice formed on the kayaks whilst paddling and the winds were rarely blowing in their favour. The freezing conditions combined with the constant contact with turbulent seas and head winds made progress slow and incredibly hard work.
South Georgia’s southwest coast was the most exposed section of the journey. Huge peaks overlooking the sea, the terminal faces of glaciers protruding into the ocean and the predominantly westerly weather systems racing across out of the Drake Passage. Once the team rounded the southern most point of the island “Cape Disappointment” and continued around into the slightly more protected bays of the East coast they knew the trip was in the bag.
Before Returning to the Falkland islands the team retraced Sir Ernest Shacklton’s footsteps crossing the island from Posession Bay over into King Haakon Bay a trail Shacklton and his men traveled during their British Trans- Antarctic Expedition in 1914.