A Travellerspoint blog

Ushuaia - Friday, 27 February 2015

overcast 14 °C

Had a great sleep and woke up early as we wanted to have breakfast and be dressed and ready to say goodbye to our "white group".

We looked out our window this morning and sometime during the night this great monster pulled up beside us.  It is huge!  I'm glad we're not on it.

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Walked onto the dock and waved goodbye to them all as they boarded the bus.  Now we are all alone but later today 15 Scenic people will join the six of us that are staying on the ship and continuing on up the Chilean Fjords.

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It is overcast and drizzling a bit and the maximum today will be 14 degrees.  All the staff on board are very busy today, getting the ship ready for the next cruise.

The Captain was on the gangway saying goodbye to everyone.  Such a nice touch.

The disembarkation was flawless and was so well organised.

At about 10.00am we walked ashore and wandered around Ushuaia looking for a chemist to buy some more sea sickness patches.  Unfortunately they are nowhere to be found in Argentina.  We bought some toothpaste for Rikus and then found a shop that sells internet time for $3 an hour which is heaps better than the ship's $30 an hour.  We sent emails and I posted a lot of photos on Facebook and let everyone know that we are having a good time and will be off the air again for the next 13 days until we get to the hotel in Santiago.

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We had lunch at this place and it was the worst pizza that we have ever eaten.  It was doughy and uncooked. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

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Headed back to the ship and will spend the afternoon relaxing before everyone boards at 5.00 pm.  Baptiste had his yellow fever shot today at the hospital in Ushuaia.

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Everyone was on board by 5.00 pm and the 21 Australians had a cocktail with Rikus where he introduced us to each other.  We had another Abandon Ship exercise and then went dinner on deck 2.  We have three tables reserved for the Scenic group and they all seem pretty nice.

The announcements on the ship are now in French and then English because there are so many French people on board.  We are definitely in the minority now.

Posted by gaddingabout 18:02 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

The Drake Passage - Thursday, 26 February 2015

overcast 5 °C

Woke up this morning and the sea was still wild - 6 metre swell - and the boat was rocking from side to side and up and down.  I was feeling okay so had some breakfast and immediately went back to bed to lie down to ride out this bad weather.

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Apparently a lot of people are not feeling very well and are staying in their cabins today.

Got up for a light lunch and am staying up now because we are entering the Beagle Channel which is reported to be calmer than the Drake Passage.

This has been the last expedition voyage for the season and we have been very lucky.  We were able to go ashore twice a day and the last few expeditions were not able to have the champagne on the ice landing, because they couldn't find a suitable landing point.  We did it all!

We drank our bottle of Mumm Champagne that was in our cabin on arrival.  We invited Sally, Rikus, Clive and Jeanette to join us and then Clive and Jeanette stayed and had dinner with us.  We had a lovely time with great food and wine and stimulating conversation.

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We have now arrived in Ushuaia and most of the current passengers are packing for their departure tomorrow.  It will be sad saying goodbye to some of them.

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Posted by gaddingabout 17:42 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

The Drake Passage - Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Goodbye Antarctica!

Position - 61°01.26' S
064°24.91 W
Sunrise - 6.15 am
Sunset - 8.45 pm
Sea Depth -3,300 mtrs

Slept very well and woke up sailing through the Drake Passage.  It's a bit rough, but too bad. Nevertheless, I am taking it easy and staying in the cabin and not moving around too much.  So far, so good.

We had to hand our gum boots back this morning.  They were only on hire but we get to keep our big jackets,

It is very overcast and misty today, so it's a good to stay in the cabin.

We had room service for our lunch and then back on the bed as it is getting very rough.  I went to a lecture called "Climate change in polar regions: it is going to be hot!" It was presented by John Chardine, a naturalist.  It was very interesting to learn that we are still in an ice age.  As long as there is permanent ice on the planet, and there is, so we are still in an ice age. Actually we are in a glacial ice age.

Later on, Phil and I went to another lecture presented by Cecile Manet, a naturalist, and it was called "Douglas Mawson: Australia's most famous explorer".  It was good and she spoke without notes and lots of great photos.

We told her that in Canberra we had a suburb called Mawson, and all the streets in that suburb are named after Antarctic explorers.

When we got back from the lecture, the boat was really rocking and rolling and I was starting to feel quite unwell so I hopped onto the bed, missed dinner altogether as the thought of food just made me sick.  Had a very quick shower and was hardly able to stand up and then into bed and thank heavens, slept all night.

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Posted by gaddingabout 17:28 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

The Weddell Sea - Tuesday, 24 February 2015

snow 0 °C

Position - 64°38.32' S
061°59.71' W
Sea depth - 120m
Sunrise - 5.49 am
Sunset - 8.50 pm

We awoke this morning inside Wilhelmina Bay with Humpback Whales everywhere.  It is freezing cold on the balcony and snowing.  It's a bit hard to zoom in on them with my tablet, so I am just enjoying the spectacle.  Phil is taking lots of photos.  At one stage, two huge Humpbacks came out from under the ship right under our balcony and made a groaning sound.

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Wilhelmina Bay is quite large and its coast line is completely indented by countless smaller bays and coves.  The bay was sighted by Gerlache on his Belgian Antarctic Expedition, on 29 January 1898.  He named it after Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948, whose government assisted the Belgian expeditioners.  This area is renowned for its high concentrations of Humpback Whales.

The water pressure in the shower was nil this morning so after numerous phone calls, and several visits from the ship's engineer, it is back to normal.

Our Captain loves whales, so we are sailing around Wilhelmina Bay looking for more.

Jeanette came up for a drink and stayed for lunch in our room.

At 2.00pm we were on the zodiacs for the very last time but this time we actually set foot for the first time on the Antarctic Continent at Neko Harbour.  This is our seventh continent.  Nokia Harbour is a small bay indenting the eastern shore of Andvord Bay along the west coast of Graham Land.  It was first seen and roughly chartered by Gerlache during the Belgica Expedition of 1897-99.  In 1921 Neko Harbour was named after Christian Salvesen's floating whaling factory Neko, which operated in the South Shetland Islands and Antarctica Peninsular area for many seasons between 1911 and 1924.

It's freezing today and even though the sun is trying to peek through, there is a very vicious wind blowing.  Neko Island has a small sandy beach, with lots and lots of rocks.  A large colony of Gentoo penguins live there.  There aren't too many fluffy babies and the adults have lovely clean and shiny coats.  They are not afraid of us at all.  The rookery doesn't smell too bad either.

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We wandered around for a while taking millions of photographs and then wandered back to the beach for the zodiac ride back to the ship.  By this time the sea was a lot wilder and we got quite wet but no one minded.  Our wet weather gear is really good.

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We went to the fifth deck to check out some photos and put an order in.  It is the  Captain's Farewell Dinner tonight.  We are having it two days early because the crossing of the Drake Passage tomorrow might be rough and the night we pull into Ushuaia, passengers will be busy packing.

We had a reserved table for the Captain's Farewell Dinner and we invited Chris, one of the naturalists to dine with us.  We also invited Di and Peter Dixon from Brisbane and Harold and Judy Wilks from Sydney.  Chris is a geologist and we had a very interesting discussion about all things Antarctic, and then some. He said that our Uba Tuba (not sure of the spelling) granite bench top at home, comes from Brazil.

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We are now on our way back to Ushuaia from Antarctica and at about midnight we will be entering the Drake Passage, which is predicted to be a bit rough.  So, before bed, I changed the sea sickness patch behind my ear, put on my wrist bands AND took a sea sick pill!  Fingers crossed.

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Posted by gaddingabout 17:22 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Antarctic Peninsula Excursions - Monday, 23 February 2015

Shore Excursions

snow 2 °C

Position - 65°10.45' S
064°07.22'W
Sea depth - 160 m
Sunrise - 5.52 am
Sunset - 9.04 pm

Had a great sleep. Woke up at some stage and felt the boat rocking and rolling, but went straight back to sleep.

We are now anchored off Petermann Island.  It is misty, overcast and lightly snowing.  Our group will be going ashore at 10.30 am.  It is 2 degrees.

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Petermann is a one mile (1.6km) island that lies southwest of Hovgaard Island, just below the Lemaire Channel.  The island was first discovered by a German expedition in 1873-74 and is named for the German geographer August Petermann.  At a cove on the southeastern side of Petermann, the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot and his vessel Pourpuoi Pas over wintered in 1909.  Chatcot named this cove Port Circumcision for the holy day 1 January on which it was discovered.  On Megalestris Hill, Charcot erected a cairn commemorating the second French Antarctic expedition.

Penguins, gentoos, blue eyed shags and south polar skuas are confirmed breeders on Petermann Island.

These guys are the first off the boat every morning, to check the conditions ashore and to find a safe landing spot for us.

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Went ashore this morning and the smell of penguin poo got us before we even landed! Phew!  But as we climbed all over the island it got less and less and by the time we boarded the zodiac to come back to the ship, we hardly noticed it at all.  It snowed the whole time we were ashore and it was just lovely.  It wasn't very cold at all, in fact I was quite hot.  I didn't even wear my gloves.  It was 2 degrees and without any wind, it is quite mild.

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We are having lunch in our cabin today and invited Lyn and Les in fro a pre luncheon drink.  Rikus wants to see us at 1.45 pm to talk about the next phase - the Chilean Fjords.

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You can't take your eyes off the scenery, or you'll miss something.  Just look at this magnificent thing!

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I went for a zodiac ride this afternoon through the 'iceberg graveyard' in Pleneau for about an hour.  There are always huge icebergs in this bay.  Phil decided to stay warm and dry on the ship.  It was freezing and it snowed all the time and my fingers were frozen stiff and it made photography difficult however I persevered and here are some of the results. 

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We saw several seals lying on icebergs and one was in the water, playing with the zodiacs.

The small island of Pleneau lies northeast of Hovgaard Island at the southern end of the Lemaire Channel.  It was first charted during Charcot's 1903-05 French Antarctic Expedition.  The island was named by Charcot for the expedition's photographer Paul Pleneau.

We are now sailing north, once we have traversed the Lemaire Channel.  The Lemaire Channel is 7 miles long and about 1 mile wide and because of its stunning scenery, is often referred to as 'kodak alley' or 'fuji fjord'.

Baptiste is such an excellent butler and has such a magnificent sense of humour, that Phil awarded him the Triple Gold Kangaroo Award. No one has ever been awarded this before!

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We had dinner in our room last night and settled down to watch a movie - The Five Year Engagement'.  Phil fell asleep at the beginning and I was left sitting up to watch it until the end.

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Posted by gaddingabout 16:49 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

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