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Published: February 20th 2013
Like a crocodile with dwarfism, I shall attempt to make this fairly short and snappy. I am writing this on the 19th of February. By now I have completed not only my Antarctic cruise but also my hike around Torres del Paine, and I am keen to get you all up to date before I head off for the next big adventure: Africa!
In my previous posts I really concentrated on the various landings that we made in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica itself, so it’s about time I gave you a bit more of the people perspective, as I met some great people and some great characters on the boat. First though, one more wildlife experience, which happened in Antarctica after we had landed at Petermann Island.
When we got back into the zodiac after some time ashore, our pilot told us that there were numerous Humpbacks in the channel that we were anchored in. Sure enough, within seconds of leaving the island we spotted blows from whales near to us, and, in fact, all around us. There must have been anything up to thirty whales in our immediate vicinity and we made our way around
several of the groups, keeping a reasonable distance so as not to distress them with the zodiac engine. Though none were breaching, they all appeared to be feeding close to the water and we saw some diving and snapped some fluke (or tail) shots. We approached a group of three that were a way away from the others and stopped the engine. For the next fifteen minutes we simply floated next to them, and as we did so the whales appeared asleep, not moving, just occasionally blowing spray. It was awesome; they weren’t intimidated by our presence at all, and hardly anyone spoke out of the eleven of us present. Sadly, we had to leave eventually, but it was something that will stay with me for a long time to come.
And what of the people on the boat, I hear you cry? Well, I quickly established bar friends and made other friends on the boat as well. Near enough everyone was friendly and the staff were amazing. As some of you will have seen from Facebook, I purchased a penguin shower cap that I was very proud of, and on the last night I even managed to ‘acquire’
a Viking helmet from behind the bar that was passed around and made for some good photos. One of the staff, Katherine, was a musician and played a few times in the bar. We had lectures, karaoke, films (if you so wished), a quiz, a raffle to win the ship chart of the expedition, darts, Scrabble and other board games, and even song writing classes and a penguin dress up parade. Good times, and I hope the pictures give a clue as to how fun the whole experience was – a good balance of people, places and wildlife.
The ship itself was also pretty cool. It was large enough to accommodate us all comfortably (thankfully!) but it was also large enough to be able to find the occasional quiet space should you so wish. It had a library, bar, lounge, computer room, phone room, gym and even a sauna – not that I used either of the last two… whatsoever 😊
Our crossing of the Drake Passage saw us just keeping just ahead of a storm, and we were asked to remain in our cabins for half of one of the days on the way back. Brian and
I didn’t mind too much. In fact, we had been amongst the few that had a couple of long lie ins during our days at sea, but even we wanted to get out of there following the cold chips and burger we were served for lunch. Thankfully we passed through the Drake relatively unscathed, and it set everyone up for a fun evening.
In the next thrilling blog update – Torres del Paine! Hiking! Beautiful colours and incredible scenery! Eating copious amounts of rice and oatmeal! Feet that smell like they have been rubbed with pickled fish and blue cheese!
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