3rd January 2017
We had a slightly overcast start to the day, a real change, as we’ve had sunshine and blue skies almost continually. The plan was to sail to the Lemaire Channel and hope we could go through, lately it’s been blocked quite often by large icebergs. I thought it was a shame when we found we couldn’t get through, little did I know the zodiac ride around the bay in front was going to be so spectacular.
Later than normal we set off in the zodiacs for a cruise through the ice around the mouth of the channel. That part was just as I expected the Antarctic to be, although much closer as we were only about a foot from the water. We’d been out for a little while and suddenly we realized Plancius was doing a lap of the bay!! She looked so stately, just cruising slowly along, going in behind huge icebergs and out the other side.
It was a terrific sight and totally unexpected. We also saw another ship cruise up to the mouth and back again, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty as Plancius, more like a houseboat on steroids, but then of course, we probably all think our ship is the best.
We were looking at a big gash of deep blue compressed ice on the cliffs when we heard and could see an avalanche in behind it, pretty amazing. Then a smallish chunk of ice fell from beside the gash, I actually caught it as it entered the water on video on my phone. My phone then shows a 360 degree swing and I got back to the action just as another bigger piece followed the first into the water. A “calving” on video, pretty cool! It wasn’t the best videography, as I sort of lost a bit on the side, but was pretty chuffed I got any of it at all.
Our guide/zodiac driver quickly urged us to sit down, sit down, and hightailed it further away but nothing else happened so we moved on to check out more seals. I got a little video of penguins jumping through the water just afterwards, which was a buzz also.
Back for lunch and a landing at Port Charcot, a hike to the hilltop and more penguins, and a quick sketch before one of the highlights of my trip – a polar plunge!
I’d skipped the first one but was determined this was the day. So down to my swimming gear and into the freezing cold water – what a shock to the system. I swam out a little way and when I stood up I realized my shorts had descended and my top had gone north but I couldn’t feel a thing. Quick clothing adjustment and I headed back to climb out but lost my footing on the rocks and instead of falling I turned and dove back into the water. Everyone thought I was being brave having another go – little did they know! What a fantastic experience, although short-lived, it is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget and would have regretted not doing.
The only pic I have so far of where we did the polar plunge is this one I took beforehand. I’ve been in touch with one of the crew and am hopeful of receiving others soon, just for proof!!!
I just keep thinking how fortunate I am to be able to be here, that all the saving and not spending money on other things has been so completely worth the effort.