On the Shack

March 23rd, 2007

We sailed from Rothera yesterday morning, waving farewell to the winterers and leaving them to the mercy of the practical jokes we’d played on them! With glorious weather and calm seas we made our way into Margerite Bay, round the southern end of Adelaide Island and out into the Southern Ocean. At this point, the Ernest Shackleton’s legendary hydrodynamics began to produce the chaotic pitching and rolling for which the ship is infamous. Everyone took their Stugeron, and only a few people retired to their cabins. I found I was happier when watching the natual horizon, and headed up onto the Bridge. I found Vicky there already, and as the two of us looked out to the west we saw three whales blow several times in succession a few miles away. You can usually tell a whale’s species from the shape of its spout, and subsequent research revealed that these were most likely to have been the very large but now very rare blue whales – wow!

last view of rothera
Through the porthole – a last view of Rothera

This morning we woke in the calmer waters of the Argentine Islands, where we were to drop of a small team to help sort out some faulty meteorological equipment at the Ukranian base, Vernadsky. This used to be a British base (initially called Argentine Islands but later known as Faraday) and we still have a good working relationship with the cash-strapped Ukranians and tend to bail them out from time to time.
Whilst the ship held her position behind the base, rumours circulated around the crew and Fids as to our intended route. The captain had initially said “no scenic route” – meaning that after leaving Vernadsky we’d go directly to the open sea and set a direct course for the Falklands. In fact, as it was a glorious day and the conditions were calm and largely ice-free, Captain Marshall treated us to a small detour through the utterly spectacular Lemaire Channel before cutting round Anvers Island (passing the American Palmer Station on the way). Lemaire is a narrow channel flanked by high rocky mountains, and in an area with an abundance of wildlife. Stood on the “monkey island” – the upper deck above the bridge – we saw Orcas, penguins and seals in the water, as well as more whales (we think they were humpbacks). Should you ever get the opportunity to take a tourist cruise down the Antarctic Peninsula, make sure it includes this route as it is stunning!

Now we’re back in open waters, with the ship’s motion making you feel like you’re on a slowed-down Waltzer ride at a fairground. We should be in Stanley harbour on Tuesday morning.

Pictures of the journey

2 Responses to “On the Shack”

  1. Cy Says:

    Just had a look at UGrib (http://www.grib.us/) – looks like the Roaring Forties and the Screaming Sixties are living up to their name. Gale Force 8 heading your way.

  2. Cy Says:

    The Shack is featured on the BBC’s website today

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