Wednesday, 10 March 2010

How Will You Possibly Remember?

It has been an epic journey and it is not over yet.  We have done and seen  many fantastic things.  To jog your memory of our voyage to date, here is a quick recap:
  • Feb 23:  Ushuaia.  You arrived at the beginning of the most adventurous trip you have ever undertaken. You boarded Fram.  You didn't know what to expect.  You met us.  I hope we weren't too scary. What would life be like for seventeen days on board Fram?   The Drake?  Yeesh! You had heard the stories.   Remember the mandatory safety drill?  The Captain's welcome speech?
  • Feb. 24: The first day on the Drake.  Uh oh.  The stories are true. A storm. Big waves. Who the hell decided it was a good idea to go to Antarctica?  We couldn't walk a straight line if our life depended on it.  The worst part was that we hadn't even been drinking!
  • Feb. 25: Late on our second day we landed on Deception Island. Who will forget their first landing in Antarctica?  It was so great to set foot on terra firma.  I know that more than one person wanted to kiss the ground.   Dark and mysterious.  Remnants of whaling days.  Antarctic Fur Seals.  A Southern Elephant Seal.  Our first few penguins. Skuas. A large flock of Kelp Gulls. The first ride in a Polar Cirkle boat.
  • Feb. 26: Port Lockroy and our first penguin colony.  Young Gentoo penguins were everywhere.  Pecking at people's pant legs. Underfoot.  Antarctic shopping at the gift shop in the small but excellent museum. Snowy Sheathbills and their ugly chicks (don't tell Manuel I said that).  A soft snowfall with bigg fluffy snowflakes. In the afternoon a landing on the actual continent of Antarctica! Almirante Brown and Paradise Bay.  You may not remember, but it snowed again.
  • Feb. 27:  Cuverville in the morning.  It was a gorgeous morning. No wind. Brilliant sunshine.  We climbed a hill overlooking the largest Gentoo colony on the peninsula and had epic views of the Gerlache Strait, Rongé Island and Arctowski Peninsula. In the afternoon we cruised through Wilhelmina Bay. The water was like a perfect mirror reflecting the stunning landscape. It was jaw droppingly beautiful.   We saw many Humpback and Minke whales throughout the day. 
  • Feb 28 -  you might want to forget.  On the heels of Shackleton we encountered a force twelve storm.  Right! All part of the grand adventure.  Through the mist we had brief glimpses of Elephant Island. Our last full day in Antarctica
  • Mar. 1: A full day at sea.  The wind had abated but the seas were even larger as we were not sheltered by the South Shetland Islands any longer. A busy day with lots of lectures.
  • Mar. 2:  More bouncing on the Scotia Sea.  The storm had abated but it was still somewhat on the rough side.  A day filled with lectures and documentray films and plenty of relaxation.
  • Mar. 3: Riding on the coat tails of the storm we approached South Georgia Island.  High winds kept us from entering Drygalski Fjord. Undaunted we headed straight for Grytiviken. By 10am there was a big weather change.  The sun came out.  The wind dropped. Beautiful.  We had a full three hours on shore. We visited Shackleton's grave, the whaling station, the museum and the Church.  Most people hiked over to King Edward Point.  There was lots of wildlife.  Big Elephant seals.  Fur Seals. Our first King Penguins!
  • Mar. 4: A day playing with katabatic winds.  We started at Fortuna Bay. Too windy.  We cruised by Leith and Husivik whaling stations on our way to Stromness.  Too windy at Stromness. Back to Fortuna.  Suddenly it was near perfect landing conditions.  There were cute Fur Seal pups everywhere.  King Penguins everywhere.  Reindeer. Amazing scenery with a fantastic beach.  Remember the kilometre walk to the King Penguin colony?
  • Mar.5: A day at sea.  More big waves.  Lots of lectures. A great day for sea birds with Wandering Albatross, Black-browed albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels, White-chinned Petrels, Soft-plumaged Petrels and Wilson's Storm Petrels.
  • Mar. 6: Second sea day on the way to the Falklands.  We finally had smooth seas but, with reduced visibility (fog). A great day to relax.
  • Mar. 7: The Falkland Islands and Port Stanley.  Really great weather in Port Stanley.  It was warm!  Everyone headed off on different excursions or roamed about Stanley on their own. Peales dolphins were seen several times during the day.
  • Mar 8: Another EPIC day!!  New Island in the morning. West Point Island in the afternoon..   We sat with Albatross chicks and Rockhopper penguins.  Both islands featured a great walk.  The tea and cakes were at West Point.  Striated Caracaras were like pets they were so approachable. More Peales dolphins. In the evening we had excellent whale sightings with many Sei whales.
  • Mar. 9:  The day started out perfectly. Calm seas. Mild temperatures.  We joined the expedition team on deck for wildlife watching in the morning.  We were rewarded with more sightings of Sei whales and new sea bird species including Great Shearwaters, Atlantic Petrels and White-headed Petrels.
Whew!  What a packed trip and there is still more to come.  Don't worry.  We will be putting all of the daily programs, a chart of our journey, staff bios and some other goodies all into a Cd for you to take home with you - just in case you forget any of the details of this amazing journey.