humpback whale, orne harbor, antarctica

Day Fourteen, In Antarctica, Landing Attempts Unsuccessful…Bad Weather

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I awoke at 4:45 to a rocky sea this morning and the waves aren’t very big yet! The captain is zooming! I didn’t realize the leisurely pace we were taking until now…we’ve been hauling at almost 15 knots for hours. We tried a landing at Hannah Point around 8 am, but we had sustained winds around 40-50 knots, and gusts up to 93 knots, so we had to continue on. We tried for a second landing later in the day, as the winds were supposed to die down, but our luck wasn’t any better at Yankee Harbor. It was snowing with fifty knot winds, and we couldn’t see land.

With expedition cruising as they like to call it, there is always a plan A, B, and C, so we made a final attempt to land at Aitcho Island in the South Shetland Archipelago, but again we weren’t successful, even after waiting for an hour. With consistent fifty knot winds, the ship can’t anchor and the zodiacs can’t disembark. They prefer conditions to be at worst twenty-five knots, so if conditions deteriorate while we are on land, we can get back on board.

While it was disappointing to miss a whole day of landings, we are told it common to miss at least two days, so frankly I feel fortunate for only missing one. Not to mention, we were blessed with witnessing a spectacular amount of wildlife…as I understand it, more than normal. In fact, more than one guide mentioned this has been one of their best trips in the Antarctic. Based on their reactions to the wildlife and their comments over the week, I believe it!

The slow day on the ship called for a nap, some reading (I might get my book read for Book Club now), the thought of going to the gym but skipping it, and finally a documentary movie about one of our guides who tried to kayak solo around South Georgia Island. It is called Soul of the Sea. She also wrote a book, South Solo. She planned the trip for four years, applying for applications with the English government, fundraising, and training. She allowed five weeks to complete the 500 nautical miles around the island in case of bad weather, but she had several set backs before she even got started. It is required by law to have a support vessel. One of the crew severed his finger on the Drake Passage. They had to return to the Faulkland Islands for him to go into surgery. It took two and a half weeks to find another person to join voyage, which they were about to cancel. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t make it around the island, but the journey was interesting.

Now we are preparing for a rough passage tomorrow…luckily we are in a large ship and not a 54 foot yacht like she was! We haven’t had to have anything secured in our rooms since we crossed the passage the first couple days, but tonight might be the night to start locking items down. The forecast is for thirty foot seas. I’m not sure how bad it has to get before guests are sequestered to and fed in their cabins, but we might have to say good-bye to our friends tonight and get some of our things packed while we can! Until tomorrow…ETB.

20130216-221930.jpgthe places we went

No pics from today, so just added a favorite from a few days ago…

humpback whale, orne harbor, antarctica


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

6 thoughts on “Day Fourteen, In Antarctica, Landing Attempts Unsuccessful…Bad Weather

  1. smooth (as can be) voyage tonight and tomorrow !
    LOVE the photo of the whale tail … what an exciting adventure, BTB !

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