All aboard the SA Agulhas II

One of the highlights for both Hamish and myself this year has been a tour aboard the S.A. Agulhas II.

I may have silently passed my love of the ocean to him and we get a little over excited when there is the opportunity to jump aboard a ship. So, when I saw the notification of the SA Agulhas I I open day I knew we would join.

About The SA Agulhas II

S.A. Agulhas II is a South African icebreaking polar supply and research ship.

Built in 2012 to replace the aging, S.A. Agulhas, she was designed to carry out scientific research and supply South African research stations in the Antarctic.

Occasionally the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment offer open days to tour and today we got to board her and get a closer look at this ship.

Our visit

Hamish and I arrived at the V and A Waterfront, and I imagined that the ship was docked near the hotel. How wrong was I!

It turned out that we walked quite a way from the hotel and I spent a solid 10 minutes wondering if we were indeed headed out in the right direction.

Eventually her hull came into view and my anxiety calmed a little. Hamish was over joyed when he saw her and with his new found enthusiasm bounced all the way.

We stopped at one gated entrance only to be moved along to another. The wonderful staff at the helicopter rides guided us the last part of way, and eventually, we arrived at the security gated area where staff ushered us into a hall.

I wasn’t expecting a hall. Previous ships we’ve visited, we have simply boarded from the Harbour.

As it turns out, the SA Agulhas II’s open day was so much more than just a visit aboard the ship. We were treated to fantastic expo and our little outing became a wonderful educational opportunity.

We’d each received a colour coded ticket and Hamish and I fell into the first group to board the magnificent ship.

Walking past a museum of Antartic exploration we came into view of possibly the largest ship I’ve ever been on. I’ve passed the SA Agulhas II on many of our Harbour cruises but it is one thing gently cruising past a ship of her magnitude at a distance and quite another looking up at her steel steps waiting to board.

The staff where amazing. Hamish was assisted aboard and our informative and engaging tour began.

We started at the ships sleeping and living quarters and it was luxurious. I would certainly be comfortable traveling to the Antarctic.

Next we viewed her bridge with it’s large glass windows for an excellent view and many gadgets to guide the ship and read the weather patterns. I found this most interesting and Hamish grabbed a few selfies with the captain.

Then it was off to explore the research area. The ship has several floors divided by many stairs and it was quite the work out as we scurried along.

The researchers gave a quick explanation of how they test the Sea water and we followed our guide through to a large room where we tried to guess what was stored in this large open space, which was equivalent to a double garage in width and about 2 stories high.

Would you believe if I told you helicopters. The SA Agulhas II travel with their own helicopters and have a helipad on deck.

And here is where our trip came to an end. We thanked the guide and disembarked.

It was a wonderfully informative tour and for a brief few moments I imagined myself as a sea faring adventurer sailing off to study polar bears and seals …..


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