We arrived in the South Shetland Islands today and began the day with a landing in pretty windy conditions blowing rain into our eyes as we zipped between land and the ship in the zodiacs. But when we got ashore I noticed something odd. Halfmoon Island, where we landed, is normally a pretty riotous affair due to the chinstrap penguin colony. Chinstraps are an agro bunch and are normally busily picking fights with their neighbours in a noisome squabbling fray. But today the colony was strangely subdued. On closer inspection the reason was apparent. The first chinstrap chicks of the season had appeared the last night and the parents were busily tending to their tiny fragile charges, with the small grey chicks waking into a wet cold world and meeting the Antarctic weather for the first time.
Meanwhile back on the ship we were doing quite the opposite and changing the atmosphere from subdued to festive. With Bing Crosby blaring over the speakers we decked the decks with Christmas cheer and prepared for the merry season by setting up Christmas trees and introducing some season’s cheer to the Akademik Ioffe.
Right now I am preparing to fall into an exhausted sleep after another landing in Deception Island in the rain. Immediately afterwards we spent an hour lugging garbage and fuel between our vessel and another passing ship as a favour and now I am pleasantly exhausted while I sip a pint of Guinness and prepare to say goodnight to the world.