Thursday 18 February 2010

A Dream Come True

Our calm weather continued today.  This morning we awoke to cloudy skies but the good news was that there was very little wind which provided a comfortable ride to end our traverse of the notorious Drake Passage.  Many of us had bridge tours during the morning.  It was a rare opportunity to chat with Captain Rune Andreassen.  We learned a little about what makes Fram tick and that the most important machine on the bridge is the coffee machine. 
This morning we also had our backpacks vacuumed!  It was part of the Prevention Against Alien Species in Antarctica program.  At the same time we were issued our life jackets for the Polar Cirkle boats. The Expedition Team helped fit each one of us with a life jacket but even so, it  felt  a bit like wrestling with an octopus with straps all over the place.
Our busy morning continued as we all had to attend an important IAATO briefing.  The briefing explained how we must conduct ourselves while on shore in Antarctica.
In the afternoon we had more lectures, this time on photography and ice.
At 15:30 we dropped anchor at Half Moon Island. The sun came out.  The sky was clear. Perfect conditions  for our first landing in Antarctica. It was a very short boat ride.  Once on shore we had a quick orientation as to the layout of the island and were told what time to be back at the landing site.
Suddenly we were face to face with our dreams of Antarctica.  All over the beach were cavorting Antarctic Fur Seals and PENGUINS!!!  Chinstrap Penguins.  None of us will ever forget this day.  Our first icebergs. Our first time setting foot in Antarctica.  The huge impressive landscapes of mountains and ice. Antarctic Fur Seals. AND PENGUINS.