Friday, 20 January 2012

At Sea: 15-17/1/2012

…which it didn’t. But luckily, I had found my sea-legs and could start to enter into the true spirit of Shackleton, experiencing the reality of an Antarctic expedition as the ship pitched and swayed across the Scotia Sea; feeling my mattress slide off my bed and back; seeing my books rush off the shelves and crash on the floor; clinging to the taps as I skidded in the shower; hearing the glasses behind the bar tinkle and crash; wincing as unfortunate passengers slipped on the deck; and watching the waiters counter-balance their trays of crockery as the floor of the dining room listed to port, then starboard, then port and back again.
Gadventure lectures in the Discovery Lounge
Days at sea on-board the M/S Expedition follow a full program of lectures, meals, socialising and whale watching: if weren’t riding out the swell in the lounge area, we were attending penguin, seal, whale, environmental and history lectures, delivered by Gadventures team of specialists; watching albatrosses and petrels hover above the surf at our stern; gorging ourselves in the dining room; spotting dolphins and seals as they lurched above the choppy waters around the ship; or looking out for the blow of fin whales and humpbacks: one morning, the blows went up right beside my breakfast table, as I was busy buttering my second piece of toast. Breeching followed the blows and we identified a pod of fin whales as they lurched out of the water to the ship’s bow. The show concluded with a spectacular dive as one whale displayed its magnificent tails as it made a slow, controlled descent to the ocean depths.

Whale watching from the stern
In preparation for South Georgia, we attended a rigorous environmental briefing, which included rucksack and Velcro vacuuming, as well as boot scrubbing and disinfecting: with strict environmental procedures in place, every effort is made to avoid introducing new species to the island, and so traces of plants and seeds had to be sucked off our clothes and bags, and soils and animal traces were washed away.

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