Antarctica. General, Impression, Size, Shape.

11 Dec

Here’s something I hadn’t come across from my land-lubbing years in the Cotswolds and Perth’s northern suburbs:

G I S S – it’s an acronym for identifying objects at sea – Warships in times of war, and now for us, Wildlife around the Antarctic peninsula.

General Impression Size and Shape.

From the first couple of hours on board the good ship MS Expedition I began to think perhaps of the G.I.S.S. of our seas to come…..

Things that differ from other ferries I have travelled on / hints that it may be a rough crossing through Drakes Passage…

  • There’s a Lifeboat drill to muster stations and even inside the Lifeboat whilst wearing our Life Jacket’s within the first couple of hours on board, hmm.

  • The cruise doctor gives a brief talk prior to departure on the effects of seasickness and the availability of patches & injections in need to combat aforementioned ailment.
  • The chairs, in the dining room, are chained down.
  • Sickbags are tied to handrails on most internal corners just in case you can’t make it to your cabin in time, and it’s not a big ship.

After 48 hours sailing south from Ushuaia we make it through Drake’s Passage and its 5 meter swells to scenery so breath taking that it quietens even the Americans on board.

Highlights for me:

  • Deception Island – a crescent shaped volcanic isle whose waters steam from geothermal activity, to enter which the ship is squeezed through a narrow passage ‘Neptunes Bellows’, it is straight out of a Boys Own adventure and was the inspiration for Captain Nemo’s base in Jules Vernes nautical novel, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. It was where we took our Polar Plunge in – 1.5C water, Kelly won’t complain about cold showers again I imagine. Funnily I’m sure I have felt colder at the British seaside.

  • In between mealtimes (an all-inclusive cruise, except booze, don’t worry bags were clinking as we boarded, and yes, we were ok for ice) we had 2 landings per day, saw a heap of penguins (we decided that the collective noun ought to be ‘a service’ given their waiter like appearance) 3 different types: Adelie, Chinstrap & Gentoo. 4 different types of seal (Elephant, Leopard, Weddell & Crabeater (they don’t) Humpback Whales were also spotted from a distance – although admittedly not by us, as we were still in bed.
  • Glaciers seen from sea level were incredible, tumbling down mountains into the sea. Icebergs drifting by our porthole…. which never become anything other than completely un-natural and heart stopping. The hushed concentration of the crew on the Bridge, as we travelled through the Lemaire channel, the ship skilfully guided between pack ice and bergs. The sound of ice sheets cracking. As they move and calve, massive chunks falling into the ocean. It’s like a gunshot in a library as their thousand year old bonds are broken.

  • Learning a little of the Continent’s great explorers; Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, Mawson of whom we hear about during fantastic daily lectures….if you have time look up Shackleton’s epic tale, and that of his navigator, Worsley, do so, it’s amazing.

Antarctica. It was a place like no other, and I feel so very lucky to have visited it.

If you’d like to see our route map, itinerary and an account of our daily activities, our expedition company has already set up a webpage with this info.  It also includes a cool slideshow of great pics if you’re interested.

Click here to access the webpage.

Username: antarctica111129

Password: expedition

Cheers for now

Matt x

PS. Kelly falling in Penguin Poo was really, really funny.

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4 Responses to “Antarctica. General, Impression, Size, Shape.”

  1. Craig December 19, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    I don’t know what is more amazing, the fact that you were so close to some of the most incredible animals in the world or the fact that Matt can grow facial hair….

  2. Dan December 21, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Did you get to see any growlers?

  3. Jim December 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Reminds me of Wales…. Must have been the ultimate geography field trip. Great photos

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