Position: Latitude 62º 24.492’ S, Longitude 059º 44.514’ W
This morning of Christmas Eve, we woke up on our second day at sea in the Drake Passage to gladly find out that the conditions had improved considerably compared to the day before. A moderate westerly breeze was blowing at 15 knots, and the swell was down to only 2-3 meters high. The sky was partly cloudy with an air temperature of 0ºC and a sea temperature of only +1ºC.
At 10 am, Doctor Gennady presented his “Antarctic Science”, an interesting lecture regarding research and life in Antarctica. He told us about his fascinating experience as base commander for Akademyk Vernadsky Ukrainian Research Station, which included two winters and several periods as base commander, from the very first season after the handover from British to Ukrainian hands. At 11:30, a program change was made, and Juan’s geology lecture was postponed to a later date while instead our Expedition Leader Robin West gave a mandatory IAATO briefing and a destination briefing on the plans for tomorrow and the day after in Neko Harbour / Almirante Brown Station and Port Lockroy / Petermann Island. At that stage, both Robin as well as Captain Stahlberg were happy to announce that due to the good speed during our crossing, we would be able to make landfall in the afternoon at Barrientos, in the Aitcho Islands group.
At 14h30, the Expedition Team and ship’s crew started the disembarkation operations. All guests were divided into two groups for the opportunity to go ashore. Once ashore, we were guided around by the ship’s lecture staff and we had the luck of seeing all three brush-tail penguin species: Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie penguins. Some had the chance to witness Skuas predating on chicks and fighting each other for the kill. The weather was pleasant and we all had ample time to wander around and enjoy firm ground under our feet after almost two full days at sea.
Later on that night, after a delicious Christmas Eve dinner, the expedition staff hosted the “Christmas Liars Club”. Eight groups of guests were to decide which one of the four panel members was telling the truth when defining Christmas related words. Words like Yulemen or Caga Tio allowed for the most outrageous definitions, three of them always wrong, only one right. Robin West hosted and the liars were Jaarda, Robin Aiello, Dominique and Chris Harbard. Lots of giggles and smiles. A funny show indeed.