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Published: March 27th 2015
From Neptunes PeakThe Adventures of Teddy.
420 metres above the water at Neptune's Peak on Deception Island
‘Teddy, Monkey, Bunny and Noodles are four friends who live in a lovely place called Green World. But lately, Evil Cloud has been covering the land, making it difficult to live and play.
Teddy, who once journeyed to the South Pole, recalls a magical land called Antarctica.
“It is a land of peace” Teddy tells his friends, “it’s cold and beautiful.”
“Oh my goodness gracious me” gasped Monkey.
“Gosh golly” piped Bunny.
“Holy macaroni” yelled Noodles.
So they decided to embark on a journey together to the land of ice in the south.
“But Antarctica is a far and distant land, so how will we get there?” Monkey asked, as he chomped and slopped at his over-ripe banana.
“Fret not.” Teddy squeaked, in a cackling rasp. “We will obtain a ship – it doesn't have to be a big ship, but it has to be a very sturdy ship, preferably with an engine.”
Bunny was afraid of the journey, but she couldn't stay in Paris because of the way the air made her cough.’
Anyway, with all silliness put to one side, and in all seriousness,
A relative to the wandering albatross
Antarctica is truly awesome! An amazing place entombed in ice! The buried continent and peaceful place at the end of Mother Earth… This is the only major landmass on the planet where mankind has never settled. It has been a pleasure visiting her for another incredible season in the largest untouched wilderness on our planet…
And, as usual, we got up to some Antarctic antics…
Operation - Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot.
Booth Island is a dramatic place with its mighty ice walls and sheer cliffs lining the western side of the world famous Lemaire Channel, however, on the other side of the island is a gentle peninsula pitted with small bays of boulders and ice – Port Charcot. It was there, in a rock-rimmed cove that we searched for the letter F that had been carved into the rock face many moons ago.
We’d only ever heard about it -“The Legend of the Letter F”, an inscription that allegedly marks the high tide line. We scouted the shore with our Zodiacs, we had no clue where to start and we were not sure if the F was even there…
It was snowing and breezy, the
The Tabular Berg
The mile long bergs of Antarctic Sound
clouds twirled in the sky as we hunted for the F. We had a leopard seal eating a gentoo, a Minke whale, a feeding frenzy of giant petrels, and a cluster of icebergs. We’d never been there before - a tangle of a place with a French history. Charcot wintered there and carved the F in the rock – possibly from boredom. We eventually found the F, but not without effort!
We had a fleeting glimpse of five southern bottle-nosed whales as we stood on the bridge chatting with captain. Seeing any type of beaked whales is a rare sight anywhere, so we were lucky to see them. We also had some fantastic humpbacks, quite the show from orca, a few fin whales and even a sei whale. We saw orcas a few times on the trip and up in the Antarctic Sound near the tip of the Tabarin Peninsula, we had a mega pod of about fifty individuals! They frolicked close to the ship as we slowly made our way to a giant tabular iceberg – a remnant of an ice shelf somewhere to the south. The iceberg was about a mile across and
The Interior of Deception Island
almost as wide, a formidable sight.
However, the star of the show was not the southern bottle nose! We had a very intimate encounter with a sperm whale near the ship. An amazing animal, very rarely sighted!
The Mighty has Fallen
A twenty-story building collapsed with a smash into silent water. It blew apart and sent projectiles far and wide and caused quite the disturbance. A huge wave charged outward and funky chunks of ice bounced in the turbulent sea. It was spectacular! It was an iceberg collapse. It rolled completely over as it shifted its centre of mass and it just kept flying apart – it rolled and rolled again each time snapping and breaking limbs. It was an explosive scene with thunderous booms as thousand ton blocks shattered the still. Sam and I were in boats nearby – wow! Pleneau Bay is a shallow bay where hundreds of huge bergs come to die! They drift in with the ocean currents and hit bottom, then they slowly collapse and erode away. The sheer scale of some of these bergs is mind-boggling! Hundreds of millions of tons of floating ice…
A pod of about 50 orca joined us near the northwest coast of the Trinity Peninsula
never been to the nipple before – a peak that towers above Whaler’s bay on the peculiarly shaped Deception Island. It was an amazing hike, looking down into the hollowed out island and watching the fog move in and envelope the island. Deception Island is moody, and often cloudy and snowy, but it is a remarkable place, all sculpted by volcanoes and glaciers.
Telefon Bay is a small bay on the northern side of Port Foster, within the walls of the Deception Island caldera. Several craters and volcanic vents poke out of the foot of the glacier – sulfur fills the air and stark, desolate landscapes make for a surreal setting… There are no birds, no plants – just black rock, ash, snow and ice… Sailing back out of Neptune’s Bellows (the narrow entrance of Port Foster) we were treated to dazzling light and a blood red sunset over the icy summits of Smith Island – a fine farewell to the Antarctic for another season…
One Last Crossing of the Drake
“I now belong to a higher class of mortals, for I have seen the albatross.” Robert Cushman Murphy, 1912.
The west wind howled as we entered the Drake Passage from the frozen realms of the far south. We danced about the
The star of the show.. For most of us it was our first sperm whale
ship with gravity assisted strides as the vessel listed to angles that would've frustrated Pythagoras. Oh the joys of crossing this dreaded water body in mighty swells! Hammered by a confused sea, we bashed our way across the furious fifties - but then it changed – everything changed… The water, next morning was like a sheet of glass, barely a ripple. The sun beamed on an all blue sky, blinding light and quiet reflections from horizon to horizon. The majestic wanderer, the albatross, had no wind and was forced to take to the water – hundred after hundred of these big-winged birds sat bobbing on the surface, breezeless and silent. The great wanderer, who I have grown quite fond of, couldn’t follow us on the wing to the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel where the green mountain sides stand proud. The water was so still and calm that we could see the feet of the albatross beneath the surface, the flapping of their wings and gentle splashing could be heard as we inched by in a mighty vessel… It was a beautiful Drake, a mirror, a magical place where sky meets water.
But it was raining in Ushuaia…
The far end of deception Island
Oddly, all I really craved was a coke on arrival to Puerto Ushuaia! I hardly ever have a soft drink, a mere bottle or two per year, but I really, really wanted a cold coke from a glass bottle! It was great!
…And now I’m going to an airport…
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