In Antarctica

We have arrived in Antarctica! After four days and 700 nautical miles this morning we completed our voyage from Ushuaia eastwards along the Beagle Channel and then just east of south across Drake’s Passage to the Antarctic Peninsular . For all seven of Xplore’s crew- skipper Stephen, mate Debbie and working guests Richard,Julian, Ellen, George and second Richard from England – the trip was challenging in a variety of different ways. We encountered two periods of strong winds, one with gusts of 50 knots the other of 40 knots, blowing dogs of chains as they say in Oz, with the crew muttering, ‘Ah mateys, them that dies will be the lucky ones’. The seas were to match and limited visibility in the middle of the trip when we needed to be on close look out for icebergs and growlers added to the excitement. We soldiered on and this morning, as dawn was breaking under a crescent moon we entered the bay leading to the Melchior Island. Proceeding south towards our chosen landfall on Enterprise Island, we saw whales, penguins, seals and a variety of Antarctic birds including tern and the occasional albatross. The rising sun glinted on the peaks, escarpments and snowfields of Brabant Island to our north. Stephen had chosen as a safe and interesting mooring to lie alongside a 100 year old wrecked Norwegian whaler. After a very disciplined lunch (we decided to keep the wine mostly for supper this evening) we launched the Zodiac dinghy to explore our new surroundings. A landing on what Richard L has christened Carter Island (official application shortly to be lodged) revealed 8 seals which we admired but made a cautious retreat. We also saw penguins swimming, climbing up hills and sunning themselves. A small party climbed a snowy hill and built a snowman which we named Mr Antarctica. Safely aboard Xplore we look forward to a wonderful supper and more adventures. Do look at Ellen’s photograph of the humpbacks that welcomed us this morning to the Antarctic Peninsula. It also shows Baabaaraa lashed to the rail, a lamb of course! We are all very excited to be here. We can hardly believe what we are seeing and our good fortune to be here all together.

Written by “The Crew of Xplore”

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