Friday, 24 January 2014

Preparation day

We woke up to a very calm Drake again, so everybody was in good shape and spirit to attend the mandatory IAATO briefings and vacuum clean the outdoor clothing and equipment in preparation for this trip's first landing. We sighted land at approximately 12pm and sailed through the Nelson Strait to reach our destination, Half Moon island.
We were greeted by rafts of swimming penguins and a few whales. Half Moon Island is located to the east of the larger Livingstone Island, which belongs to the South Shetland Islands archipelago. Relics of a bygone age are present in the form of an old whaling water boat abandoned on the beach. It is now designated a Historic monument.
As soon as the Captain put down the anchor we got underway with our landing, those more intrepid amongst us went snow shoeing and kayaking. On the Island we were greeted by 3000 pairs of Chinstrap penguins and their cute fluffy chicks. The chicks around 4 weeks old and starting to creche in groups. Food must be plentiful in the oceans because on most nests both chicks are waiting for their next feed looking very healthy. The thick down coats are starting to molt creating some very street wise haircuts.
We returned to the ship for a well earned dinner and drink reveling in our first close penguin encounters and relating storied of the animal behavior to each other and looking forward to seeing different species in the days to come.
Evening entertainment was provided by the MV Fram fashion show. The models strutting the latest fashion wear from the on board shop. Although of course the models are professionals they are not models but we all had good fun and this finished our first day in Antarctica on a high.