Going north

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January 17th 2012
Published: January 20th 2012
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Heading north now to The Fauklands

17th January

The day before yesterday was a blue day – perfect for photographs and we saw the most majestic scenery in bright sunlight. There were whales, penguins a plenty and seals to photography and most of the people on board spent the whole day outside. Needless to say there were sunburnt faces last night. No protection from pollution here. We cruised past two research stations down the passageways to Decepcion Island, the South Shetland Island, Half Moon and Livingstone Island. The sea is full of small icebergs that the ship is negotiating and gently pushing aside and avoiding the huge ones that look like white/blue palaces in fairytales. Photography does not do credit to what we are seeing but I’ve taken hundreds of images. Last night, being a clear night I hoped to see the stars but as it was still very light at 12.15 am it was impossible.

Remembering the people on deck at night in the film Titanic – I can tell you it’s a big con. It is b***** freezing outside, especially later at night. You wouldn’t venture out in a strappy dress for love nor money – well perhaps money…..

Yesterday the captain woke us at 7.30 am to see the Argentinian research station, Esperanza, which is next door to a huge penguin colony of Adele penguins. The smell must be atrocious at the station – its fairly pungent out here on the ship. You don’t think about penguins as smelly, but they are. We are weaving in and out of massive tabletop icebergs the size of mountains on the move. I am told this is the last time this shipping line is ever going to be allowed in Antarctic. They are putting a stop to cruise liners down here. We picked our way between the middle-sized glaciers looking out for the ones playing host to groups of penguins.. By noon we where heading towards open water and north to the Antarctic Sound and Elephant Island. The wind got up and most stayed inside until the Island was sighted at about 5.30pm. It was amazing to see this mountainous inhospitable island that Shackleton’s men had holed up on for so many months while he took a few men in the ‘James Caird’ over 800 miles to South Georgia. It is so cold outside on this bright sunny day – its hard to imagine how it must have been for those that stayed behind or those that endured that journey. We were in close enough to see the bay on which they landed.

We, in the luxury of our 21st century cruise ship, come in out of the cold and get ready for another sumptuous feast as Elephant Island slides by our cabin window. What would Shackleton have made of it all I wonder – horrified I should think. We listened yesterday to a lecture on the peace treaty that exists to protect Antarctica. There must be oil and minerals under here but for the <!--EndFragment-->


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