Cobblers Cove is formed from an enclosed anchorage along the north coast of South Georgia on the eastern side of the peninsula forming Cumberland East Bay. As well as providing a bit of shelter, the area features small colonies of both king and gentoo penguins.
On the other side of the peninsula is the greater Cumberland West Bay, which features several sights including the large Neumayer Glacier. Farther up the coast is Possession Bay, the location in 1775 of the first landing on the island by one Captain James Cook, who proceeded to claim the island for England. Cook was searching for the theorized Antarctic continent and, like la Roché a century before, appeared to be unimpressed with his findings, despite naming the land the Isle of Georgia for King George III. From his journal:
… The head of the bay, as well as two places on each side, was terminated by perpendicular ice-cliffs of considerable height. Pieces were continually breaking off, and floating out to sea; and a great fall happened while we were in the bay, which made a noise like cannon. … The inner parts of the country were not less savage and horrible. The wild rocks raised their lofty summits till they were lost in the clouds, and the valleys lay covered with everlasting snow. Not a tree was to be seen, nor a shrub even big enough to make a toothpick. … The very sides and craggy summits of the lofty mountains were cased with snow and ice; but the quantity which lay in the valleys is incredible; and at the bottom of the bays the coast was terminated by a wall of ice of considerable height. It can hardly be doubted that a great deal of ice is formed here in the water, which in the spring is broken off, and dispersed over the sea; but this island cannot produce the ten-thousandth part of what we saw; so that either there must be more land, or the ice is formed without it. These reflections led me to think that the land we had seen the preceding day might belong to an extensive track, and I still had hopes of discovering a continent. I must confess the disappointment I now met with did not affect me much; for, to judge of the bulk by the sample, it would not be worth the discovery.
Cobblers Cove and Cumberland West Bay
It’s a long and difficult walk – or climb – to the Cobblers Cove rookery. Apparently it is worthwhile; this gentoo showed no signs of discouragement on its lengthy winding trail.
This is the destination, the rookery on the heights of the cliffs overlooking the cove. Hungry young chicks await.
This is the view the penguins enjoy.
This proud parent brooding chicks was not scared and is probably unfamiliar with humans up this high.
Down at the water kings were present too.
On the other side of the peninsula, Cumberland West Bay was littered with ice from the glaciers.
The ice is a danger to the boat, depending on where the wind drives it. Packed up around the hull on a lee shore it can quickly become a trap, and keeping an eye on what the ice out in the bay is doing is critical.
The Neumayer Glacier snakes some 8 NM (15 km) from the interior into Cumberland West Bay.
Carlita Bay is a horseshoe harbor with flatlands and an easily accessible beach at its head.
The ice driven onto the beach makes it hard to get ashore. It’s also evidence of the bay acting as a berg collector.
The red building is the “Suzanna” refuge hut, salvation for the wayward explorer caught by weather.
After a sleepless night of katabatic winds and constantly prodding off the inevitable bergs which drift downwind and threaten at least the boat’s antifouling, the buildup of ice in the cove was starting to become a problem.
Open water was a relief out in the greater Cumberland West Bay. We were lucky with the weather.
We passed Possession Bay farther up the coast, the location of Cook’s landing. The sketches that came back to Europe with the Resolution may have been met with slightly incredulous reactions, considered dramatized or even fantastical at the time – we see no exaggeration.