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Category Archives: Dorian Bay
Yesterday we were hunkered down unable to hold anchor in wild weather with winds gusting to over 100 knots. The wind was whipping the water into a writhing carpet of foam, the waves were rolling the ship from side to side and stray items were flinging across the cabins. Clearly landings at Deception Island were not going to be an option and we spend the day talking about how impressive the weather was and how barren the black rocks of this active volcano appeared.
Likewise, the morning was heralded by gusting winds and ominous grey clouds,yet by breakfast the wind was such that you could just about stand up on deck without being flung into the frothing ocean and we decided to have an attempt at launching the small boats and getting to shore. As it turned out the wind gradually diminished and after a couple of hours of strolling amidst the crumbling remains of the whaling station at Whalers Bay, the clouds were trailing away on the horizon and the wind was dropping.
Two hours later we were sailing through calm seas and exploring the brilliant white sea-ice of Pendulum Cove beneath a clear blue sky. Penguins glanced anxiously at us as we followed leads in the ice into the heart of white and I even managed to get sunburnt.
Now we are crossing the Bransfield Strait with the Antarctic Peninsula stretching out before us, the sun glinting of icebergs on the horizon and a gentle following sea rocking the boat gracefully. It is certainly a rapid change but this comes hand in hand with any venture in the South …. It can be horrible one minute and benign the next … I just hope the order of weather does not reverse itself tomorrow when I shall be sleeping under the southern skies in a thin goretex bag while we camp out at Dorian Bay!
Today we had a pretty wild windy day at Dorian bay and made our way to Fournier Harbour which is a large sheltered bay surrounded by glaciers tumbling into the sea. As soon as we arrived the wind started to dive down and we were surrounded by feeding Humpback Whales. The engines on the ship were lowered and we coasted into the very thick of a churning mass of feeding whales gorging themselves on the dense krill just thirty meters below the surface. As we lined the rails of the ship we saw spiraling bubbles emerge from the depths and float towards the surface in concentric circles until a large whale surged through the centre of the rings with water spurting from its baleen plates and krill scattering in all directions. The lead whale would soon be followed by two younger whales learning the game of bubble netting and taking advantage of the skill of the lead whale. Also notice that as the whales charge to the surface they have their eye close, no doubt to keep our the krill and to prevent damage from the wheeling seabirds overhead taking advantage of the craft of the whale. It was a pretty spectacular fair well from the Antarctic as we once again turn our bows towards the Drake Passage and Ushuaia.
Today the ship was a bit subdued after last night celebrations but we still were up early for a landing and a later ship cruise. Nothing to clear the head of celebratory fog like tearing through ice-cold air in a speeding zodiac. Right now we have cancelled the planned nights camping at Dorian Bay due to a screaming wind from the north. As it turns out the wind is doing most of its screaming through the rigging of two yachts anchored in a nearby bay which makes me green with envy … despite the rough weather I look forward to the day that it is Widdershins standing proud in the cutting Antarctic wind.
Christmas in Antarctica is always a blast… but not much time for a lazy day sipping beer with friends and family. Up early for blast around Danco Island to play with Gentoo penguins and to work up an appetite for Christmas lunch by scaling the peak of the island to chill with the penguins which have also decided to scale the height on their short stumpy legs … actually there is a reason for that – the snow high up melts early and allows the penguins to lay their eggs at the first possible moment. Seems absurd to see the penguins climbing so high but mother nature always has a cunning plan! After Danco we did more cruising and a walk around Dorian Bay where the Minke whales came to visit … and while we were all out in the boats the ship crew were preparing the Christmas BBQ on board which finished the night with revelry, fun and much good cheer in the form of various beverages…