- Conquering Antarctica. The 7th continent, the final frontier, the land of the penguins
- Arriving in Ushuaia at the End of the world
- Crossing the drake passage to Antarctica
- Life aboard an Antarctic cruise expedition
- A typical “Sea” day aboard an Antarctic cruise Expedition
This blog is going to be a little different. It’ll be more of a “Captains log” style of post. I chose captain to keep a nautical theme. It’s simple a log of what would happen on a day at sea with no landings. I’ve described a landing day here.
On the way out we had a drake shake and it meant that about half the boat was seasick come the next morning.
01:00 (night): Woke up with stuff falling down from the shelves and serious rocking of the boat. I took another seasick pill, just in case, so as to get some sleep. The pills I took also had a drowsing effect (like allergy pills) which is great when you’re trying to sleep.
01.30: Fell asleep but only after being annoyed that sleeping on the side was impossible. I would wake up on and off many times that night
08.00: Woke up and went to get breakfast. The boat was rocking and it was hard to get your food. I’m amazed at the waiters and kitchen staff. How do they do it? There were now barf bags everywhere hanging on the side of the walls and railings so people could go and get them.
09:00: Visited the bridge. Somehow it feels like more rocking up here but it’s nice that you can see the horizon. Crew didn’t speak much but it’s nice with a ship with an open bridge so you can watch.
09.30: Bird lecture by Georgina, a local from the Falkland Islands. She told us about the Wandering Albatross, a bird with a wingspan of 3.5meters. I saw Aegean Condors in Patagonia and with a measly 3m wingspan, they’ve got nothing on the albatross.
South polar skuas are noisy bad birds that steal food and penguin eggs but at least their chicks are adorable! They take food from other birds in the air – bullies of the air.
The Antarctic tern can take a bite off your scalp if you don’t watch out. They’re aggressive birds
11:00: Falcon Scott, grandson of Captain Ross gives a lecture about Captain Ross’ expedition (Albatrosses are flying around the ship and when you look out the windows during the lecture you can see them).
Captain Ross’s expedition had been deemed “the worst trip in the world”. The mission was to recover 3 emperor penguin eggs. In minus 70 degree Celsius.
One expedition member had perished earlier to frostbite and when Captain Oates (the expedition leader) later had frostbite in his entire leg he left his tent at night as he knew he was going to die; Famously saying “I’ll just go out for a walk. It might take some time”. He did so to avoid his team members having to chose between carrying him or letting him die.
Eventually they all perished, although the eggs were later recovered. This was mostly due to -40 degrees weather towards the end and warm weather (slush) in the beginning. Warm weather was bad as well as the snow turned to slush making it very slow and very hard for them to walk and pull their sledges.
This lecture gives perspective on the danger and fearlessness the early explorers must have had to endure in this dangerous and inhospitable continent
12:00: Since I was joining the Kayaking Club I would have my briefing here. Safety, what to expect, etc. It was really exciting to go kayaking so I gulped it all up but also felt a little anxious, shy of the two hour lesson I had in Denmark, I had never been sea-kayaking. And never in actual sea – let alone the antarctic sea!
12:45: Finally some lunch. Lunch aboard is phenomenal!
14:00: Lecture on the geology of the South Shetland Islands. They are the first islands you meet after crossing the Drake. Voice of the lecturer was like hypnotic sleep but trying to stay awake. Thickest ice is up to 5km thick and there are two parts of the Antarctic peninsula – the Graham land and the Palmer Land.
14:30: Fell asleep…
16:00: Teatime with muffins and tea. What a treat!
16:30: Safety and IATTO. They went through all the various things you have to be careful about when going to Antarctica. Both for our safety but most importantly for the safety of the fragile eco-system there. Foreign bacteria, animals and seeds threaten the ecosystem and therefore we have to wash carefully every single thing we bring on land and between every landing!
17:45: Lecture on Photo Composition. It was interesting and very helpful!
19:00: Meet the crew
As you can see a day like this is fully packed with hardly any time to just do your own thing. With lack of sleep and many people sick it can feel like the lectures are a bit empty but I managed to (almost) go to all of them and got a lot of interesting information. It also helped me get excited for the coming trip!