Its 10:30 PM and the sun is still out. Sunset is at about 11:30 and then it will turn twilight for about 3 hours and then the sun will rise. Will never get dark. Hard to sleep with the light shining through my porthole.
Last night finished writing the previous blog at about 12:30. Had a lot to say about my first night with “The Drake”. The Drake decided to settle down and slept for around four hours. Got up at 5 AM and went down to the lounge for some coffee. Had my usual three cups and decided to risk taking a shower. I did not even attempt taking a shower the previous day. Did not want to do anymore fighting with “The Drake” and risk any bodily injury. Amazing, the water was nice and hot in this tiny shower stall. Had a nice warming shower. Forget about shaving. Will not risk using a razor blade with The Drake around. Shaving will have too wait until Ossining is my home again. Went down for breakfast at 8 and enjoyed a nice hot meal. The food is adequate, but not spectacular. This boat was a former working boat and is not a Princess Cruise ship. There is no pool, spa and the other so called great amenities hat those boats have. Some facts. Last year, thirty six thousand people visited Antartica. More than half of them never got off their luxury cruise liners. If the boat exceeds five hundred passengers, you are not allowed to dock and take any of your passengers on land. If your boat has over one hundred passengers, you are only permitted two land excursions in only two designated areas with only one hundred passengers allowed to disembark at a time. Under one hundred passengers and you can disembark anywhere you want and have unlimited access. That is the type of boat I am on. I believe the only way to experience and see Antartica. Another fact. Antartica is a land mass that is covered with ice and snow. The North Pole is not a land mass and only made up of ice and snow. We were told that at about 2:30 AM we passed the magical line and we had entered Antartica. Another continent that I have visited. The boat will stamp my passport. Last fact. If you want to visit Antartica, you must come between mid November through mid February. The water and land are all frozen the other months of the year.
After breakfast, we were given a training course on traveling on the Zodiacs. The ship has 10 zodiacs and fits eight people in each. We were given life vests that we have to wear on the zodiacs. Of course, I slept through most of the class and will just follow everyone else tomorrow. At about 11 AM we saw our first iceberg. A large iceberg that we traveled very close to. Anyone hear of the Titanic? I was busy sleeping, but immediately woke up and grabbed my camera trying to take some pictures. I am sure I will have many more chances with many more icebergs. The ships captain gave a bottle of wine to the first passenger who saw the iceberg. I lost. After the iceberg encounter, we were given a great lecture on how to take wildlife pictures. What settings and lenses to use in particular situations. We were making our way to King Georges Island to have Igor, the passenger who broke his ankle yesterday, to be airlifted to a medical facility in Chile. We finally saw land at around noon time. This was King Georges Island. A barren looking island that had some snow capped mountains and there were only some research centers there. Imagine living there. What an existence. I took some pictures from the bridge and sides as we docked in the bay to await the medical boat to take Igor off. The boat finally arrived and took him to the island and then to the medical plane to be airlifted. Poor guy. We started to move again. As always, Andy had set up some lectures. The first lecture divided the passengers amongst his eleven staff into four camera groups of Nikon, Canon, Sony and Fuji users. We then went over our settings and what we will expect on our first land excursion and what settings and lenses to use. The following two lectures were given by naturalists. They discussed the different breeds of penguins in Antartica as well as the different breeds of whales and dolphins that we will encounter.
I have been eating light today. Did not eat lunch and barely ate dinner. Have been living on coffee and water all day after breakfast.
After dinner, Andy gave a lecture on what we should bring on our first land excursion tomorrow. What cameras and lenses we should use, how to pack them and an overall view of what to expect and see. Breakfast will be served at 7 and we board our zodiacs at 8:20 for a three hour dismemberment. The captain has personally picked out this site and is one of her favorites. That’s right, the captain is a woman. In the afternoon, we are going zodiac cursing around the icebergs.
I hope that my fight with “The Drake” is worth it. I certainly have passed the initiation test and am looking forward to our numerous land excursions. The captain told us that some of the boats that were supposed to leave Ushuaia after us, did not due to the storm we went through. Some people have been to Antartica before, and they all assure me I will be amazed and awe struck.
The boat is starting to rock and squeak more as we had to our first true adventure. I doubt I will be able to sleep tonight. Tough between the lack of darkness, rocking and squeaking.
Will, of course, report to everyone tomorrow.