Cruising the Antarctic Sound
Too much iced tea last night; I was up & down all night long. Every time I’d get up, I’d turn on the bridge camera to see what was going on outside. At & again at , there were people outside taking photos on deck 7 at the bow of the ship. Even though the sun officially sets, it doesn’t get dark. Light enough to see people walking around & bright enough to take photos. Crazy thing to see!
The best thing (& the worst thing) about these waters……..you need to be awake 24/7 to take it all in. After 3 days sailing the western & now the eastern side of the
Antarctic Peninsula some people might say it all looks pretty much the same thing. BUT every 5 mins. there’s something completely unique & breathtaking to experience. Most of the time I’m either standing or pacing from side to side on deck 6 aft. The min. you sit down to eat, go to the bathroom or lie on the bed to rest your feet, the Capt. announces that something new & exciting is coming up on the port side!
Today I must have seen 500 icebergs. Some are white, some grey; some are striated with lines of neon blue. Some are as flat as a pancake; some haphazard on top with sides so perfectly vertical that they look like they were carved with an electric knife.
I saw one that was maybe twice as large as & resembled the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Some are shaped like a dunce’s hat. One in particular was flat & appeared to have a ‘pool’ in the middle of it.
You have to stay vigilant; in the blink of an eye you can miss a whole lot. Any iceberg, no matter how small, might have a seal sleeping on it. Or a small group of penguins.
I spotted these tiny things off in the distance that looked like they were hopping across the water. The closer I got, I realized they were penguins frolicking; just as a dolphin would. And even though there are lots of them around here……the elusive whales.
It snowed several times today; more of those huge blowing flakes. Temp stayed right at 32; but the wind chill was occasionally quite brutal. I had on the ski mask & the wool scarf, boots, 2 pair of gloves, a sweater & a coat. Had to put my glasses back on today; & they kept fogging up. Trying to wear the contacts yesterday, solved that issue; but they really irritated my eyes.
I could never get tired of looking at all this beauty. But it is a tiring job to do so. It’ll be a relief to be crossing Drake’s Passage again tomorrow. Nothing for miles & miles; a chance to get some rest. Sorry, I kinda got carried away; & I’m not following my usual format.
I was jarred awake for the final time when the Capt. announced that there were leopard seals on an iceberg up ahead on the port side. It was ; & since they were on “my” side of the ship, I thought I should get up for them. I was out the door in 2 mins. And there were lots of them. It was going to be that kind of day. The Capt. has no actual set itinerary; just a rough plan to cover a certain area. He studies the weather conditions; & relies on other vessels to tell if the channels are too ice packed or if there’s any wildlife sightings.
On a few occasions, he’s chosen to go through a particularly icy channel just so we could see a penguin colony, a specific ice floe or a research station encampment. Navigating the huge icebergs slows us down greatly. So, the Capt. has the difficult job of deciding is it worth it to waste 2 hrs. trying to inch your way through a minefield of ice just to see a particular glacier or would we rather skip that glacier & go down another channel where the visibility is better & we can see a pod of whales. Every day we’ve ended up going somewhere we didn’t plan.
I went in the
Lido to get breakfast. It’s common for someone to spot something out the window; & half the people in the room run outside to take photos, come back & finish their breakfast. Everyone onboard, from the little kids to the elderly is really into the excitement of this adventure.
Visibility was too poor; so he scrubbed our visit to
, which has a huge population of Adelie penguins. Instead, he took us Paulette Island 30 miles south of there to so we could see the Argentine-built, Esperanza Research Station. Hope Bay
A short break for lunch. The
Lido menu did not appeal to me today; so I went to the grill, & got a cheeseburger instead.
Today was all about huge icebergs, ice floes & wildlife. I got lucky with the camera; 2 humpback whales, several leopard seals, maybe 100 penguins. Unlike the snow drenched, rugged mountains that we sailed right up next to yesterday; today’s focus was large spans of open water containing a never ending obstacle course of ICE. We would not get to cruise around the
South Shetland Islands as planned. But I doubt that we’ll be missing anything nearly as spectacular as what we did see today.
Tonight we’re full steam ahead heading north back into Drake’s Passage. After 3 days of mostly calm waters, the seas are rocky again tonight. I ate dinner at the
Lido with Lou; neither of us impressed with tonight’s menu. It was like choosing the lesser of all evils. I chose a very disappointing seafood cocktail appetizer of baby shrimp, scallops & 2 tiny mussels. I couldn’t tolerate it; so got a mixed salad instead. My main course was a nicely rare & tender piece of filet mignon with brussel sprouts & fries. I picked up a strawberry/rhubarb cobbler. We both took one bite; & left the rest. I had some fruit & cheese for dessert. None of this was worthy of a photograph.
Lou had gotten kinda of dressed up for the New Year’s Eve festivities; & I saw some really fancy formal attire about the ship. I was still in my jeans; & not exactly up for a night out. I think she had talked herself out of it too by the time we got up from the table about . The Capt. was having a champagne reception in the showroom at ; & then a countdown at in the Crow’s Nest.
Although I am ending 2010 on an exhilarating adventure, the year as a whole has been down right crappy. And I’m soooo glad to see it come to an end. So, instead of hoisting a glass of champagne to toast a new year…….I’d rather just go to bed, get some rest & pray that 2011 is kinder & less challenging.