Published: March 13th 2011March 4th 2011
So far I haven't told you much about my fellow passengers on the ship except for the 5 that I joined the boat with and my kayak partner. Well it was an intersting mix of people ranging from the very old (over 70) down to mid 20s. A significant portion of whom were Aussie and Canadian. Whilst we were on the boat I did manage to make friend with quite a few. There was Terry the mid-30s Canadian "bridge" engineer. We had plenty of beers and long chats together. There was Warren and Betsy the 40-something couple who had sold their entire possessions and were spending as long as possible backpacking around the world. I think their aim is 5 years. There was Kevin the mid 20s Canadian Environmental Scientist who came to visit one of the expedition staff. There was Graham the 70 yo who started snow fights and switched between being everyone's dad and being a big kid. The list goes on...
And then there was Maarten.
He was Dutch. He was really tall. And he was 28 on the 4th of March.
The first time I really remember talking to him was on the 3rd
of March over breakfast when he and Stephanie (and 17 others) had just come back from their overnight camping trip. I'd exchanged a few words with him before without really knowing his name or anything. I've notice that I have a tendancy to do that. Just start talking without really bothering to find out WHO I'm talking to.
From what I could gather, no one on the camping trip got much sleep, the idea of spending all that time on Antarctica was just too much I guess. But from the sounds of things they didn't really do much and there wasn't much to see. All they spoke about was a rock. Not a special rock with interesting markings. Just a plain old everyday rock.
Somehow from the rock conversation we got to talking about how a few of us had alcohol in our rooms that we hadn't had a chance to drink yet. And from there the idea of a Cabin Crawl was floated. B.Y.O or steal someone else's we were all pretty happy with that. And since there was only 2 or 3 nights left before we hit the Drake again our chances were limited. The campers
wanted an early one that night so that cut it down to 1 or 2 nights... and then Maarten mentioned his birthday the following night and it was set. Details were unimportant. Time to do my job and start spreading the word! "Cabin crawl tomorrow night"
In the meantime the word we had been waiting for came down: our morning landing on the 4th was going to be at Whaler's Bay Deception Island and we were going to have the chance to do the (wait for it...) SWIM. Apparently the reason this particular location is used is because it is inactive and there are some geothermal steams which surface right at the water line. This means that the ocean water is still freezing, but if tidal and other conditions are right you can get out and sit in water that feels almost hot enough to burn. We were lucky enough to have those conditions met when it came time to swim. They weren't when we first got to that landing site, but after we'd been wandering around looking at the abandonned whaling station we came back and there was steam rising from the shoreline.
Now you are probably
thinking that even with the geothermal streams we are all a little insane for thinking that this is a good idea, but it wasn't as though I was going to sit in the water for long enough to get hypothermic. Just long enough to say I'd done it. Cos life's all about doing those crazy things when you can. And apparently 48 out of the 126 passengers on board thought it was a good idea. But 1 man decided to take it a step further. And that man was Maarten. It was his birthday and he wanted to do something REALLY special. He wanted to do it nude. Somehow he managed to convince Warren (afore mentioned 40s something backpacker) to join him. At which point a third guy who had been near them also decided that a nudie run was a good idea. I guess some people are always just waiting for a chance to get nude. So 3 people swam in the Antarctic naked.
And then as soon as I could slither back into my clothing (easier said than done mind you!) I was on a zodiac and zipping my want back to a hot chocolate and a
As this was our 4th birthday on board we knew that Maarten was going to get seranaded by all the wait staff with a redition of happy birthday so we made sure that we were at the two biggest tables at the end of the dining room so that we could all join in and make as big a spectacle as we could. But before dinner I'd arranged a little something. The Brazilian Hotel Manager would always announce dinner and she would say "bon appetit" every time. So I asked her to try some Dutch (I'd previously conned her into speaking in Portugese so I thought she would do it). She wasn't comfortable with attempting it so she handed the mike over to me and I got to say bon appetit in Dutch for everyone to hear... and apparently my pronunciation was good. And my new Dutch friends approved.
The last element to Maarten's birthday was of course alcohol! We started before dinner in the Doctor's Suite - there was a doctor couple on board who had a suite with a little sitting area and they were quite happy to entertain there! And then after dinner the
question was raised - where to now. Some how I got the job of directing everybody and since it was too hard to choose a cabin to start with we decided to start on the bottom deck at the Mud Room (where we put on our wet weather gear and leave the ship before a landing) and work our way up the ship ending with the Polar Bear Bar on the top deck. We were quite happy with this arrangement although I think the cleaning staff we ran into in the Mud Room were a little bit taken a back.
Despite what some people might have expected from us we were respectful and tried to be quiet. We skipped rooms where roomies were already in bed and made sure we made it to the Polar Bear Bar before 11 so that we weren't wandering the halls making noise. In all it was a good night and I'd love to do it with you guys again!
Happy Birthday Maarten!
There are more photos below