The View from 65.36.21S, 64.46.65W

The news from your’s tru­ly is that today I final­ly was able to go back to work, after about 5 days of on-and-off fever and chills. It sure feels good to be almost nor­mal (cough­ing and weak­ness is fine by me com­pared to that oth­er stuff). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, dur­ing my retreat into a fetal posi­tion under the blan­kets, I missed about 5 days of sun­shine, or so they tell me. Nev­er saw any of it. So much for any Vit­a­min D that does­n’t come out of a bottle…

Any­way, at least Pam was­n’t here to have to hear me whin­ing about how crap­py I felt. The news from her is quite a bit more inter­est­ing and far more uplifting:

We’re all back inside after a morn­ing of see­ing and smelling Gen­too and Adelie pen­guin colonies on Peter­mann Island. We had to tread very care­ful­ly as the lit­tle guys blend in with the rocks. For­tu­nate­ly guides were placed next to chicks sleep­ing on the path. As we knelt to take their pic­tures, some curi­ous chicks approached to nib­ble on cam­era straps. At some point you don’t take pic­tures but just have to take a breath and stand in awe in the qui­et, majes­tic, surroundings.

Today’s snow got every­one in the mood for explor­ing, but after the crew planned a fes­tive BBQ on the pool-deck, we had oth­er ideas. Enter­tain­ment was pro­vid­ed by a band and pas­sen­gers will­ing to dance in the slush (includ­ing me), and then an impromp­tu snow­ball fight broke out and every­one, includ­ing the cap­tain, were on deck as some point.

Out­side tem­per­a­ture is about 39°F/4°C. The red Explor­er jack­ets are quite warm, as are the insu­lat­ed rub­ber boots. It’s a good thing they are water­proof, as we have to step in “decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion” buck­ets before and after leav­ing the ship and zodi­ac rafts.

Just moments after every­one came in from lunch fes­tiv­i­ties, and as the crew was break­ing down, the ship sud­den­ly rocked, hard. Chairs tipped over and there was a loud crash from the kitchen fol­lowed by anoth­er crash on the return wave. The cap­tain has turned off the sta­bi­liz­ers as they also slow the ship and hav­ing them off is bet­ter for nav­i­gat­ing around ice. He’s announced that as of an hour ago, we’ve come far­ther south in this ship than ever before because of the good weath­er and rel­a­tive­ly ice-free con­di­tions. We’re actu­al­ly now less than 6 hours sail from the Antarc­tic cir­cle. Although we’re not plan­ning to cross, it’s excit­ing to have come so close to that point on the Earth.

Yes­ter­day evening (after 2 land­ings and a zodi­ac cruise past ice shelves 40 metres high) we start­ed head­ing through the Lemaire chan­nel. The Chan­nel is in every guide book of Antarc­ti­ca. A Nation­al Geo­graph­ic ship was in the area and we watched it dis­ap­pear thru a tiny speck of an open­ing off in the dis­tance. At around 22:00 the cap­tain invit­ed every­one up to the bridge as we slipped through the pas­sage. With shear moun­tains on either side, and glac­i­ers, which could have spilled off at any moment perched atop them, we glid­ed into the open­ing and away from the sun­set. The cap­tain got a round of applause; it was an unfor­get­table moment. Many peo­ple have been moved to tears, (me includ­ed), by the astound­ing beau­ty of the scene.

Pam goes on to say that her next mes­sage will come on the sail back toward Tier­ra del Fuego.

Here’s the kind of pic­ture those guide books of Antarc­ti­ca have of the Lemaire Channel:

The Lemaire Channel (Flickr Photo)

One Reply to “The View from 65.36.21S, 64.46.65W”

  1. Ah, so that’s what it looks like in day­time! We sailed thru around 10:00pm I think. The view from the bridge was straight ahead–or maybe that is, the chan­nel does nar­row. Then on the way back it was a howl­ing storm. Very qui­et on the bridge as the cap­tain was kind enough to allow maybe 30 of us up there.. okay, that’s it on this pre­cious inter­net time acct. See you all soon!

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