Antarctica

Happy World Penguin Day!

Travel Trivia Tuesday and Throwback Thursday

Combined for World Penguin Wednesday

chinstrap penguin, antarctica, Orne Harbor

I loved the Chinstrap Penguins in Antarctica.  Did you know penguins evolved to be a flightless birds?  They used to have wings to fly, rather than flippers to swim.  The fastest penguin can swim 22 mph! Continue reading “Happy World Penguin Day!”

Antarctica, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Palau, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming

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Antarctica

Day Sixteen, In Antarctica – Crossing the Drake Passage

The worst part of our comfortable ride came between midnight and 3 am last night. Waves slapped the side of the boat while the ship rocked above the water in a clockwise, circular fashion which made for an interesting night’s sleep, if any. But at least our items stayed in our cabinets on deck 2. Cathy and Greg had a crazy night. The lock that held their closet door closed broke open, so the doors swung freely. All the DVDs in the owner’s suite flew out of the TV cabinet and across the sitting room. I think they managed to stay in their bed, but I’m certain daylight could be seen between their bodies and mattress. And to think we had an easy crossing! We were hearing of reports of ships getting the windows of the captains bridge knocked out and of passengers being sequestered to their cabins. We dodged all of this…awesome captain!

We made up for an adventurous night, with another another slow day. We opted for a few presentations and then watched a short film about rounding Cape Horn that was very funny. Later we got hear about some of the trips to the Arctic…I’m sold on seeing the polar bears…that will have to be an adventure in the next few years.

We made it to the Beagle Channel early, so we have throttled back as we don’t disembark until tomorrow. While we have been putzing around, the Quark Team put on a live auction to raise money for penguins. There were a variety of items, but the two big tickets items were the map with our itinerary which also included some pencil sketchings by one of the team members, Colin, and the ability to captain the ship with supervision of course. Our Arkansas friends, Greg and Cathy, won the bidding. At the hands of our friends, the Sea Spirit pulled a 360 in the Beagle Channel! Not even Cheli had done that!

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We earned several certificates on our trip…..including a certificate for crossing the circle, kayaking, climbing the hill and riding a snow slide on the Antarctic Continent, and the polar plunge. The polar plunge certificate was my favorite…”In Paradise Bay on a sunny, blue sky day, a puzzled penguin audience observed Beth of questionable sanity and near to nude plunge into 2 degree Celsius Antarctic waters.”

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I’m sad to be disembarking tomorrow! We made some great new friends from around the world and enjoyed some incredible experiences, including watching dolphins jump during the captain cocktail hour and a farewell night of dancing with the expedition team. Our team leader left us with an appropriate quote, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.” Antarctica is breathtaking! The end…ETB

PS…Stay tuned for Colorado hikes, a weekend in Hilton Head, and a warm climate trip to Palau and some more weekly photo challenges.

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CHINSTRAP PENGUIN
seal
Antarctica

Day Fifteen, In Antarctica – Crossing the Drake Passage

The port holes were closed up last night, in preparation of the crossing. The port holes weren’t closed going south, thus the crew definitely geared up for rougher weather. Though the thirty foot sea predictions turned out to be closer to 12 to 18 foot seas, whew! In the briefing this evening, we found out the captain had to change his course 100 nautical miles and travel at full throttle for us to enjoy this “improved, more comfortable” ride. I hope the trend continues as even with the change, chairs tipped over, dishes fell off the table and people tossed up and down out of their bed (glad we are on deck 2). From what I understand, our passage has been very smooth compared to other larger ships in that passed through earlier, though not smooth enough to keep the hallways free of barf bags. There were several available on deck 2…not so many on the higher decks…I suppose they were being used! Continue reading “Day Fifteen, In Antarctica – Crossing the Drake Passage”

humpback whale, orne harbor, antarctica
Antarctica

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

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. Continue reading “Day Fourteen, In Antarctica, Landing Attempts Unsuccessful…Bad Weather”

iceberg alley, pleneau island, antarctica, kayaking
Antarctica

Day Thirteen – In Antarctica, Navigating Lemaire Channel, Kayaking Iceberg Alley, and Visiting Port Lockroy

After a late night of dancing with the expedition staff, we got up early as the captain timed his entry into the Lemaire Channel at around 7 am. It is a very narrow passage with several icebergs and towering islands that staff admires. It was suggested we stand on the bow of the ship as we made the passage. The glaciologist on board, Colin from Scotland, pointed out features in the ice and rocks as we passed by. The sunny weather had quickly evaporated, and the overcast skies left us chilled as we admired the surrounding land mass. Given we were preparing to paddle at Pleneau Island through iceberg alley, the staff’s favorite place, most of us kayakers left the outside deck to maintain our body temperature. Continue reading “Day Thirteen – In Antarctica, Navigating Lemaire Channel, Kayaking Iceberg Alley, and Visiting Port Lockroy”

paradise day, antarctica, polar plunge
Antarctica

Day Twelve – In Antarctica, Polar Plunging in Paradise Bay and Kayaking with the Humpbacks in Neko Harbour

We took in spectacular scenery under clear skies while motoring north to Paradise Bay where we finally got to participate in our polar plunge. 48 out of 114 passengers jumped off the zodiac into the 2° Celcius waters. I’m glad we waited until today, as it was glorious. Sunny and calm, the water like glass…the only ripples interfering with mirror image reflections of the surrounding peaks and glaciers were those created from the plunges! Continue reading “Day Twelve – In Antarctica, Polar Plunging in Paradise Bay and Kayaking with the Humpbacks in Neko Harbour”

detaille island, south of the circle, antarctica, icebergs
Antarctica

Day Eleven – In Antarctica, Crossing the Circle, Kissing the Fish, Detaille Island

It’s snowing again this morning, and the travels down to the circle are much more rocky. We couldn’t pass through the more protected channel due to the ice conditions so we are in the open waters. The circle is 66°33′ latitude and during the summer solstice, the sun shines here 24 hours a day. Currently the sun sets at 11:31 and rises 4:01, though it seems like it never gets fully dark.

We crossed the circle at 9:30 am. In celebration, the captain pulled in the ships stabilizers to make for a more rocky ride (but more importantly to protect them from ice). All the passengers dressed in their yellow parkas and loaded on the bow of the boat for a picture. The captain blew the horn as we passed 66°33′ in snowy, sleeting conditions. As usual, the staff had a unique celebration planned. Dressed in costumes and carrying oars, they pounded them on the deck in a three beat rhythm chanting “kiss the fish”. We all had to kiss a frozen mackerel in order to pass up to deck four! Nicole and I even got to brandish the fish at the end as we stood at the bow for a “Titanic” picture. Continue reading “Day Eleven – In Antarctica, Crossing the Circle, Kissing the Fish, Detaille Island”

torgersen island, antarctica, kelp gull
Antarctica

Day Ten – In Antarctica, Neumayer Channel and Torgersen Island

Early this morning we picked up the cold, wet campers and had a leisurely morning. I was right, it was an exercise in counting sheep..they had a sleepless night, though many said it was neat because they got to experience the solitude. As kayakers, we have gotten to experience that solitude every day, and it is very special. Continue reading “Day Ten – In Antarctica, Neumayer Channel and Torgersen Island”

cuverville island, antarctica, gentoo penguin and babies
Antarctica

Day Nine – In Antarctica, Cuverville Island and Orne Harbor

It’s my understanding humpback whales played around our ship all morning. Nicole and I slept right up until our 7:30 kayak briefing, so we missed the action…shucks. We had time for breakfast with Greg though. He and his wife Cathy are from Arkansas and own five car dealerships around the southeastern states. We had dinner with them the other night as well. They are staying in the owners suite, and he was curious to know what our cabin was like. For any boat I’ve been on, I thought our room was quite luxurious until I heard they had a spa tub, kitchenette, and large closets in their room! Anyway, they are a fun couple. Continue reading “Day Nine – In Antarctica, Cuverville Island and Orne Harbor”