Thursday, November 13, 2014
Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina

So I have no idea if my faithful followers have seen any of the blog posts.
Suffice it to say that using satellite Internet with 70 other passengers
through an email only portal has not proven the most reliable means of
communicating. But none the less with the help of some Guiness I
persevere.
Last we spoke, shore excursions were about to begin and begun they gave in
a dramatic and awe inspiring fashion. Arriving in the south Shetland
islands we officially enter antarctic waters. Upon awaking in the morning
we are treated to a gorgeous sunny day and crystal slate-blue waters
surrounded by iridescent white snow covered scenery. Our first stop …
the kayak excursion. This involves, fleece pants, running pants, two pair
of smartwool socks, base layer t-shirt, long sleeve insulating shirt,
Musto Night Moves vest, M-hat over black warm beanie. .. then I get to
leave the cabin, stroll to the mud room / high&low frequency hydrograph
room to Don the dry suit, neoprene booties, PFD and my gloves. Now after
some excellent sweat developing in the nether regions I finally step for on
deck and it is glorious! Sunglasses required, reverence required, awe
required … I brought two of the three .. take a guess 😉
So we hop down the gangway, into the zodiac trailing right or nine kayaks
and of we head into the harbor. After a rather amusing loading process for
the first time, everyone is loaded up … except Lisa who passed on this
first kayak due to lingering sea sickness.
The paddle was glorious, past the penguin rookery, to the ice fast where
the Waddell seals were resting, and along the shore with towering blue
white glaciers, between the scenery and the cold it literally takes your
breath away. At the end of the kayak we transfer back to the zodiac get
taken to shore yup see the penguins up close. When I say up close I’m
talking arms length away from hundreds of them. Today we are seeing gentoo
penguins, but also a couple lone chinstrap penguins. They arrive from
the water, the rocky shoreline and the glacier beyond.
Wow, n what a morning. .. back to the ship for lunch then we move to another
landing where we zodiac to the shore to explore some massive chinstrap
colonies. The scenery here is stunning, with views of ice blue icebergs,
lichen covered rock outcrops and penguins penguins and more penguins. . And
a couple seals. We see penguins waddling, hopping, sliding, “running” and
amongst other things having penguin sex .. it’s that time if year and the
carrying of rocks to build a nest to attract a mate to lay eggs has begun.
I’ve got some phenomenal photos to share when I can.
Then back to the ship for dinner. .. you think this day is over. .. nope. .a
final evening excursion to deception island lay ahead. Here we disembark
with plenty of light around nine pm. There are some old air hangers, and
other whaling buildings from post world war two here that really lend an
eerie ghost town feel to the location. However the best event yet was just
prior to departure when we got to do our polar plunge!
Yes folks in the midst of a snowstorm, twenty knot winds, I voluntarily
decide to strip off the Musto fowl weather gear, down to a pair of running
shorts and the M hat, and dash into the Antarctic ocean. .. oh baby is was
cold. .. a lot like lake superior in spring. Rushing out of the water,
trying to redress, my fingers are so numb I need help zipping my jacket and
buckling my PFD for the trip back to the shop sic is only a minute or do
away. What an amazing experience! I now only have one ocean left to swim
in! Tomorrow wet make landfall on the continent of antarctica to top off my
seventh continent.
I hope all is well and go blue!
Bill
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