Day 2 |
Dec 01, 2008

At Sea

By Chris Harbard

Noon position: 57° 10’ 45” S,64° 21’ 35” W

Sea temp: 4°C (39°F), Air temp: 4°C (39°F)

Weather: Sunshine with some cloud and wind speed c60 kph (40mph)

The day began with an unexpectedly large swell, which resulted in remarkably few people at breakfast, although as many had had a very early start the day before, perhaps it was not surprising.

At 10 am I presented a lecture about the world’s penguins, including insight into the Gentoos, Adelies and Chinstraps that we will encounter during our time down on the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as tales of how penguins survive the rigours of cold weather.

Out on deck, guests were able to see the many seabirds that were now accompanying the ship including several Wandering Albatrosses, the birds with the biggest wingspan in the world – a massive 11ft (3.5 metres). Incredibly, these birds may not breed until 11 years old during which time they do not come to land, staying out at sea in all weathers. Some may travel 120,000 miles in a single year.

The delightful pied plumage of the smaller Cape Petrels really lived up to their alternative name of ‘Pintado’ or ‘painted’ petrels, as they soared enchantingly alongside us. Tiny Thin-billed Prions dashed over the waves while larger Southern Giant Petrels soared above them. Guests were madly photographing all of these seabirds in the beautiful sunny conditions.

After lunch, our marine mammal expert, Rob Suisted talked about the whales and dolphins of the southern ocean. We were all encouraged to be up on deck as much as possible if we wanted to see these magnificent creatures. But, out on deck the heavy seas meant it was impossible to see any whales or their ‘blows’ as we headed southwards.

Later in the afternoon guests were introduced to the use of Zodiacs, the inflatable landing crafts that are used to ferry guests ashore, or to cruise among the icebergs. We were instructed in the use of our lifejackets as well as being shown the ‘Zodiac grip’ that enables a safe transfer from ship to Zodiac.

At 7pm, Captain Peter Stahlberg hosted his Welcome Cocktail Party and introduced us to his officers. Sadly, the weather conditions meant that many guests were unable to attend, but those who did enjoyed a fine meal and afterwards many were entertained by pianist Adam in the Panorama Lounge while enjoying a nightcap.