Antarctica – February 6, 2018…Wild seas in the Drake Passage…

We made a great video but won’t share it until we’re back in Buenos Aires due to the poor Wi-Fi signal.

Currently, we’re experiencing what is classified as Level 2 (of three levels) rough seas in the Drake Passage, which is known to be the roughest seas anywhere in the world. It isn’t easy to walk across a room and down the hallways.

My water glass flew off the table in the lounge on deck three. I’d decided against drinking tea this morning when the risk is too high for getting scalded. As I began preparing this post, there was only a handful of passengers in the lounge. We imagine the rest are in their cabins, preferring not to walk about the ship.

Seasickness bags are positioned throughout the ship’s public areas, as shown in this elevator.

Tom usually has a few poached eggs and bacon in the buffet each morning while I wait until lunch to eat. Most mornings, I join him and sip on herbal tea. This morning, I suggested he go on without me since it would take a little longer for me to get showered, dressed, and ready for the day based on the rocky conditions.

Taking a shower was challenging. Thank goodness there is a grab bar in the shower which I hung during the shower. I decided to forgo shaving my legs which I usually do daily. “Too risky,” I thought as I bounced around in the small space.

This photo was taken from our cabin balcony this morning.  It’s certainly wild!

I hurried, and by the Tom returned to the cabin. I was ready to go. We grabbed my laptop and headed to the lounge. As we sat on a sofa, we stared out the windows, stunned by the raging seas although we weren’t feeling seasick (thank goodness). Glasses and cups flying around, breaking with a loud crash, startling the few of us in the lounge on each occasion.

This 264 passenger ship (only 200 expedition cruisers are allowed to enter Antarctica) is considerably smaller than any cruise ship on which we’ve sailed over these past five-plus years.  It’s more like a luxury yacht than a cruise ship.

The seas continue to lurch unpredictably, making walking rather challenging.

As a result of the ship’s smaller size, we’re feeling the rough seas considerably more than we have during rough seas during any of our prior 21 cruises since the onset of our world travels, except for the trans-Atlantic crossing in 2013.

Are we scared?  If it gets to Level 3 within the next 28 hours or so until we arrive in Ushuaia on Wednesday (where we’ll spend one more night on the ship), it could be one rough and rocky ride. 

For a moment, it may seem calm, and then whoosh…there’s a giant swell powerful enough to knock us off our feet.

The cruise line had planned the extra overnight in Ushuaia to accommodate any delays in our arrival due to rough seas. It certainly makes sense for them to plan accordingly to prevent passengers from missing their flights.

At this point, we’re fine, not overly worried, and prepared to stay as stable as we possibly can.  We made a video and took these few photos of the rough seas, but at the moment, I’m having trouble holding onto my laptop on my lap and don’t necessarily feel like going outside to take more or better photos. 

The waves are splashing up to the 6th deck.

Based on the fact any videos we post here must be uploaded to YouTube, and with the signal is too weak to upload a video, we’ll save it for when we wrap up the posts from Antarctica once we’re on land.

We’d planned on posting other photos, but today, we decided to focus on this last leg of our journey through the Drake Passage as we head back to civilization. We’ll be back in touch soon. We’ll keep you updated.

May your day be safe and steady!

      Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2017:

We were at the Geeveston, Tasmania Classic car show when we spotted this ’48 Chevy Fleetmaster, made the year I was born.  Gee., that car is old, and so I am! For more, please click here.

Antarctica – February 2, 2018…A sighting like none other…

One of the first icebergs we saw since arriving near the Antarctic Peninsula. We zoomed in to spot the penguins on board.
The captain maneuvered the ship so we could see this in more detail. This was an incredible sighting. Chinstrap Penguins were living on an iceberg!

This barren, frozen part of the world in its forbidden nature and mystery provides us with ample opportunities to fuss over its majesty. It’s accessible to ooh and aah over what we see in Antarctica. But, it’s much more than that. It’s a step in a world we knew existed and never imagined we’d see in our lifetimes.

This was one of the first icebergs we spotted in the Antarctic Peninsula. How beautiful is this structure?
Imagine a mere 37,000 visitors come to Antarctica each year.  This number astounded us when we’d expected it was many more. This number made us further realize the opportunity to visit this frozen continent, 99% of which is covered in ice, rich in wildlife, history, and spectacular scenery.
We weren’t sure as to the source of this item. Could it be the feathers of some seabird?

Antarctica’s geology is highly varied and in a state of constant flux, considering the size of the continent, the changing tectonic landscape, the environment, and the constantly changing climate. 

A solitary fur seal was gazing out at sea.
Add the unique wildlife, most of which is seldom, if ever, found in other parts of the world, this vast area of pure white leaves most of us, including scientists, mystified and curious as it to what we have to anticipate in centuries to come.
A courting male and female fur seal?

The answers aren’t clear and definitive, perpetually swirling around a political arena that really shouldn’t have any influence on the outcome. Do we see massive icebergs melting, glaciers melting into the sea, and changes wrought by human intervention? Not necessarily.

Could this be whalebone on the rocky beach?

The scientists aboard ship whom we listen to during daily seminars don’t espouse any political references of what is yet to come. Instead, they speak of the literal ebb and flow naturally occurring in this part of the world. We certainly haven’t heard any doomsday predictions of what we should anticipate in the future.

It was tricky walking over these large rocks on Penguin Island. We walked carefully and gingerly.

Instead, we hear conscientious discussion of us, visitors, keeping our clothing and equipment free of any potential contaminants that may affect the delicate ecological balance vital to the survival of the precious wildlife and minimal vegetation growing in this stark environment.

Whalebones on the rocky beach.

By no means do I write this as a political stance. I write this from the eyes of two world travelers who cherish the “wild,” which we’ve made a priority in our lives as we migrate from country to country, continent to continent, on a perpetual search for the most awe-inspiring scene, breathtaking landscape, and heart-pounding wildlife. 

Bones of a fur seal.

We do this with love and a passion for embracing those magical moments when Mother Nature bestows a morsel of Her infinite beauty our way, for our eyes to behold, and when possible, for our camera to capture. What matters to us may pale in comparison to what appeals to others. 

Then again, perhaps our expectations aren’t too high when the simplest of images can propel us into a tizzy of squealing with delight. 

Penguin bones.
Such was the case yesterday, shortly after returning for our late afternoon visit to Penguin Island located in the area of the Antarctic Peninsula, when we beheld a vision, one that we’ll never forget as shown in today’s main photo…an iceberg floating in the sea with a colony of penguins on board for the ride.
Elephant seals hanging out together by the sea.

There wasn’t a passenger on this ship (of a total of 194) who didn’t have a camera in hand as their hearts raced over the pure delight of seeing this unique situation (unique to us anyway). This sighting would remain at the top of their list of notable sightings on this 16-night expedition cruise.

Tom, outdoors in short sleeves on a cold day in Antarctica with an iceberg in the background.

For me, it became a highlight of this adventure, a symbol of how vast is the world we inhabit and how magnificent it is, compared to the seemingly small world surrounding our states of being. 

We feel lucky. We feel blessed, and above all, we feel humbled to be entrenched in it now and live entrenched in the memories of having been here.

Stay tuned, folks. More is yet to come.

Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2017:

Sailing is a popular activity in Tasmania. For more details, please click here.