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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

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