Sailing to New Island with Jerome Poncet

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Jerome is the man when it comes to the waters of the south Atlantic. He is 72 years young, and has been taking researchers, tourists, and film crews to the Falklands for decades. In 1973 Jerome and a friend were the first people to sail a yacht into Antarctica.

Jerome is French, and as such, has what you might call an irreverent approach to his work, making sure his guests completely enjoy themselves.

So this is our captain and his first mate for our boat ride! Where do I get off?

Jerome is quite the character. He made us lunch of cheese sandwiches, and showed us how he cleans his stove top with a goose feather.

He picked us up at Weddell island in his 65 foot reinforced hull sailboat

New Island, our final destination at the end of this day, is at the top left. Below that are the islands around Weddell Island, where we spent the day sailing

Jerome on his bridge, plotting our course around these islands

Off we went on a gorgeous day

Jerome raised the sail for part of our trip, and we enjoyed the experience of sailing the southern ocean on a beautiful day

Now was a good time to break out those pistachios we brought from home

We had visitors as soon as we motored away. These are Peale’s dolphins, found almost exclusively in this ocean. They live along the coastal waters, eating a wide variety of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and octopus. Being dolphins, they are playful, and they surfed our bow wave for hours, entertaining us with their jumping and spinning out of the water.

We encountered blue skies, calm seas, and plenty of wildlife on the ride to New Island. We saw Imperial (King) cormorants, peregrine falcons, petrels, and more dolphins.

Georgina showing off the latest in hair do’s as we motored past islands with large numbers of birds

Most of the islands were covered in birds

The cormorants flew by constantly

Can you tell looking at this cormorant’s eye why it is sometimes referred to as a Blue-eyed shag?

The highlight of the afternoon was a stop at Stinker Island to visit the huge southern Sea Lions. They gather in large groups of males, females, and pups. Without Jerome’s experience we never would have landed on this island and walked amongst them.

As we approached Stinker Island the Sea Lions were quite apparent due to their large size

The Stinker Island welcoming committee came out to greet us and make sure our passports were in order before we landed. We were given permission to anchor as long as we paid the landing fee of 6 squid.


Out came the zodiak and off we went. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide than Jerome, with his knowledge of the area, and his confidence in the face of such large marine mammals

As soon as we stepped foot on the island we were treated to the sight of a large male with his harem and pups. His enourmous size was quite apparent, especially when compared to the females. 

When we first arrived he ignored us and kept on working on his suntan 

As we walked inland we came across another adult male moving around the tussock grass

We approached closer and both of us kept a wary eye on each other

A younger male southern sea lion was near this large male, so we kept an eye on him also. This younger male soon decided he did not want us between himself and the water, so he charged at us to get us out of the way. In this first video he starts slowly, but then he lets out a loud bark and rapidly accelerated towards Dr. P who was in his way. You can tell the point that Dr. P started running away from the video.

In the second video Dr. P gets his act together just in time to watch this sea lion blast past toward the water. It all happened fast, and gives you an idea of how you need to be observant at all time around these large and powerful animals. We would not have gotten this close without Jerome being there.

All too soon it was time to say good bye to our newfound friends and make our way to New Island, the final destination of our trip

Return to the Falkland Islands home page.