News about Gough Island, which lies 350 kms (220 miles) SSE of Tristan da Cunha.

Administrator's March visit to Gough Island

Report from Tristan da Cunha Administrator Philip Kendall
Photos from Philip and Emil Pirzenthal

Louise and I made our inaugural visit to Gough earlier this month. We took advantage of a special charter of the MFV Edinburgh by the Fisheries department, which was heading down to Gough to carry out some camera work around the island. We were accompanied by James, Sarah, Rodney, Connor, Clifton, Cliff, Emil (diver) and Julia Gunther (photographer).

A spectacular sunrise viewed from MFV Edinburgh beyond Devil’s Corner on Inaccessible Island
before the ship sailed for Gough on 2nd March.

MFV Edinburgh at Gough Island

We boarded the Edinburgh on 2nd March 2024 for her last day of fishing around Inaccessible Island. This gave me a chance to see first-hand the amazing Captain Clarence and his crew in action. With fishing over, we headed south for Gough. The journey was choppy and the seas a little rough when we arrived, so we weren’t able to land until 6th March. The weather didn’t deter the Fisheries Department from starting their work, which again was good for me to see. Louise and I eventually took the perilous journey over the side of the Edinburgh, down the ladder, into the RIB and up the rope lift to the base, where we were greeted by the nine members for the Gough 69 team.

The Gough Meteorological Station viewed from MFV Edinburgh
The crane which operates the famous lift from the sea to the plateau can be seen on the clifftop.

At the Gough welcome sign: Left to Right -
Louise Kendall, Julia Gunther, Philip Kendall and Emil Pirzenthal.

The team on Gough is made up of three people from the South African Weather Service, who collect weather data to help forecasters predict the weather in southern Africa, two people from the RSPB monitoring the birdlife on Gough and four technical support staff who keep the base running. Louise and I were their first visitors since October 2023. After our warm welcome, we settled into our new temporary home. The Fisheries Team stayed on board the Edinburgh, with Emil (diver) and Julia (photographer).

View from a Met. Station window.

MFV Edinburgh from near the Met. Station.

View looking north from near the Met Station.



On the Thursday, we spent the day with the RSPB team, Lucy and Hannah, and visited the Albatross chicks nearby the base. The team tags the chicks before they fly the nest, enabling the albatrosses to be monitored throughout their lives.

Philip and Louise admiring the view.

Louise by an adult Molly backed by a thicket of the island tree Phylica. 

Philip by a Gough stream near the dam from where the base sources its fresh water.

A Gough waterfall. These two images demonstrate the difficulty of walking on the island.

On the Friday, I spent the day with the weather team, and was given the honour of launching the midday weather balloon. I left the team to do the midnight balloon. It’s a 24 hour operation!

Philip about to launch a weather balloon. Philip cueing up at pool in the Gough Met. Station

Saturday was the turn of the technical team. With no guaranteed ships for 12 months, they have to be even more self-sufficient than we do on Tristan. The diesel technician keeps the generators going, the electrician keeps the lights on, the Comms guy keeps in touch with the outside world, and the medic keeps everyone healthy.

Emil and Julia were able to join us on the base for a barbeque on Saturday evening and stayed for 24 hours until we all left on the Sunday. During our stay the RSPB took the decision to temporarily withdraw their team, taking advantage of the presence of our ship. Lucy and Hannah joined us on the Edinburgh and we spent the next two days touring the coast. We landed at the Glen, the site of the first base 70 years ago, and then at the Wild Glen where we saw 32 amazing elephant seals, before heading on an equally bumpy ride back to Tristan.

Philip on a Gough beach where elephant seals haul out.

The Fisheries Team exceeded their target for camera work, with over 100 camera drops, recording over 30 hours of footage and installing temperature loggers. This will help us understand the sea life around Gough monitoring any changes over the years. Early indications from the footage show an abundance of healthy life.

Returning to MFV Edinburgh.

Louise and I are so lucky to have spent so long on Gough, so early in our tour. I want to thank James and the Fisheries Team for making this happen, Captain Clarence and his crew for taking us safely there and back, and to our hosts on Gough, who were some of the best people you could ever hope to meet.

The team gathered in the Residency garden for a celebration of a successful trip.
Left to right: Lucy Dorman (RSPB), Sarah Glass-Green, Emil Pirzenthal, Administrator Philip Kendall,
Chief Islander and Fisheries Director James Glass, Cliff Swain, Rodney Green, Clifton Repetto, Julia Gunther,
Louise Kendall and Hannah Greetham (RSPB).

On our return to Tristan, we all gathered in the residency garden for a celebratory drink. Well done to everyone concerned!

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Helicopters, bait and team members offloaded to Gough Island
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SA Agulhas II sails for Gough

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2021 mice eradication project's importance brought into focus
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The yacht SV Urchin stopped at Tristan on 27th March 2021 on its way back home from Gough Island.
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Yacht SV Urchin Calls at Tristan on the Way to Gough Island

The yacht SV Urchin stopped at Tristan on the 19th March 2021 to pick up islanders for the Gough Restoration Programme.
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Gough Island News for:

2015 | 2014