Day 10 — Feb 24
So after having to travel back north yesterday to King George Island to accommodate a medical evacuation on the ship, we are now headed back south. We have arrived at Nicholson Island. We have reached the 63rd parallel in hopes of getting to the 66 1/3 parallel (Antarctic Circle).
Beautiful scenery and whale sightings keep our eyes and camera lenses busy as we head to breakfast and walk around the ship. This trip is becoming more beautiful every day! Everywhere we turn there is another wonderful assault on our senses.
We board the zodiacs for a tour of Spert Island this morning. Our Zodiac Driver, Dave, one of the Photographer Guides on the Expedition, turns out to be somewhat of a Speed Demon which I like quite well. We took some Zodiac Rides at high speed through some caves that were exhilarating to say the least!
I have to laugh as we come across a floating iceberg in the shape of a penis that has been nicknamed, “Penis Point”. Near Spert Island. Oh my!!! There are no landing points on Spert Island as it juts 525 feet vertically out of the water, but its many caves and rock formations make wonderful view finder fodder!
We come across Leopard and Fur Seals playing in the water and they don’t seem to mind us being here. This one seal just kept swimming around and playing near us. Because of the restrictions the IAATO has placed on all ships to the Antarctic for the last hundred or so years, humans are no longer a predator to these creatures and they no longer fear us. So we are treated to playful displays by creatures near and far!
Back on board for lunch and story sharing as the ship moves to its next destination. Uploading photos from here is nigh on impossible. So I’ve stopped trying. Soon it is time for our afternoon excursion and I have chosen to kayak again! The ship has set anchor at D’Halnaut Island in Mikkelsen Harbor. This is me in my dry suit!
We kayak in heavy winds and I think I’ve never been this cold. As beautiful as this is, it is a welcome treat to go back onboard for hot cocoa, wine and dinner.
The ship has moved to Cierva Cove and we’re going back out for a photographers sunset excursion in the zodiacs. This place was named for Juan de le Cierva, the inventor of the “Autogiro”, the precursor to the helicopter. Gotta get off the computer and suit up. Thermals, shirt, sweater, fleece lined pants, waterproof ski pants, Antarctic lined jacket, ski hat, neck sleeve, and face protection. It takes quite some time to even ‘suit up’ for these excursions!
We get out on the water and sunset has begun. I mentioned this before but I’ll remind you that Antarctic Sunsets (like Arctic Sunsets) last for hours which makes for a photographers delight! We are surrounded by glaciated peaks and valleys up to 2000 meters in depth (7000 feet). This place is known for its stunning icebergs and somewhere around here is a summer Argentinean research station.
We get up close and personal to some whales and marvel at the icebergs in the sunset. Then, as sunset finally wanes, we go back on board for warm libations and stories at the bar!