Day 269: m/v Plancius – Antarctica – Mar 13th

Yesterday evening, as we were preparing for a landing at Deception Island, the Antarctic weather got the best of us with 37knot (~66km) winds channeled through the island and pushing the boat off course and unable to dock inside. We were lucky enough to hit this spot on our way back, and we were EXTREMELY glad that we did…

Today was rather eventful for our landings.

Morning, we disembarked onto Cuverville Island for the always fun walks amongst penguins and icebergs. The landings are almost always cluttered with penguins despite most of them already leaving for the near approaching southern hemisphere winter. Nothing really ‘happens’, as the penguins are just living their life fending off albatross, molting their feathers, walking like clumsy birds, and just doing some crazy penguin things like climbing a glacier for no apparent reason.

The afternoon was probably the best all-out scenery we saw. The weather has been EXTREMELY great for us so far with low winds and SUNNY SKIES! It was not much colder than a mild winter day in Toronto, but the tranquility definitely beats the city. The ship docked inside a quiet harbour and the water was covered with an oily sheen (known as ‘grease ice’). Hiking up a small hill, you get a spectacular view looking back down onto the harbour with the Antarctic waters in front of you, and a gently sloping mountain behind you. The pictures can only give you a minor glimpse into what it would’ve been like, sitting atop that hill and looking onto a sight like that.

And before we headed back onto the boat, we and took a quick dip with our bathing suits. Yup…we can now claim that we’ve swam inside Antarctic waters! Standing out of the water with our bathing suits wasn’t bad, but once you get back out of the water you realize the air is actually warm! The water is a breezy -2C due to the high salt content, and the moment you dip your feet in you seriously second-guess your intelligence for doing this. It was SO COLD, but you don’t get instant-hypothermia like we imagined and we lived through.

Instead of heading back to our cabin after dinner, we got dressed for a little walk in the dark. Disembarking at Leith Cove where a leopard seal greeted us in the dark, we walked up to a safer spot and set up camp upon the snow. Yup, we can also now claim that we’ve camped on the Antarctic peninsula! And it wasn’t too cold, so we were camping with bivys and not tents, exposing us to the elements. The ship had all their gear prepared and sleeping with two sleeping pads, two sleeping bags and a bivy. Jiajia was extra-warm because she brought her own sleeping bag and was sleeping with THREE sleeping bags! Surprisingly, it wasn’t that cold?!?!?!

We slept darn well in our sleeping bags, looking up onto the cloudy skies as we ponder about what other strange events this continent has in store for us.

Note: There are a lot of pictures, but NONE of them are photoshop’d…..

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