Tag Archives: Polar Plunge

Lemaire Channel, Dorian Bay and Port Charcot

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!

Rocks at Port Charcot, site of my polar plunge!

Rocks at Port Charcot, site of my 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.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antarctica, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel

Neko Harbour, Almirante Brown and BBQ in Antarctica

2nd January 2017

I stayed in the lounge when we got back to Plancius from camping, didn’t think it would be nice to wake Marijke that early, so settled with a cuppa and book from the library until Andrew made his daily wake up call at 7am. “Good morning, good morning, it’s Monday 2nd January and the weather is clear with a slight breeze and the temperature is 3 degrees. Breakfast will be served in the dining room at 7:30 for those who want to join. I hope you all have a good day”. What a brilliant way to get us all up and going, better than an alarm any day!

This morning we landed at Neko Bay, our first landing on the continent of Antarctica, until now we’d been on the peninsular. A good snowshoe climb up the hill was the perfect excuse to sit in the snow and beautiful warm sun, watch penguins and look out over the bay at the glaciers, icebergs and of course Plancius. Also sketched for a while back near the shore and enjoyed a penguin visitor up close although by the time I realized and got my phone out for a photo he’d moved on to visit someone else.

The first polar plunge took place before we headed back for lunch. The doctor was on shore with his bag of tricks and zodiacs idled about 10 metres or so from the shore. I’d say about 20 people took the plunge, most only stayed in about half a minute, but one of the Chinese gents swam out past the zodiac and back. Lots of gasps and arm waving by the plungers and laughter and camera clicking by the onlookers. I was biding my time!

After lunch we had another split landing, half landed at Almirante Brown station first and the others took a long zodiac cruise around the bay. I was in Christophe’s zodiac and was awsestruck at the icebergs, the colours of the compressed ice was fascinating. I’ve seen lots of photos where the ice is a bright turquoise blue but there were also heaps with much deeper blues. They look like there’s lights shining through, and the colours under the water are every bit as gorgeous. The vast knowledge these guys have didn’t cease to amaze me the whole trip, and they are so enthusiastic it’s always entertaining to listen.

Our turn at Almirante Brown station was another chance to climb a hill for gorgeous views and then a snow slide back down. I was a bit boring there, only went part of the way but enjoyed poking around the buildings and old infrastructure.

Dinner tonight was special, a BBQ on the back deck with free drinks and gluhwein. It was also Katie’s birthday but she had to stand out there serving up our meals. The weather was actually freezing cold and windy, not at all like we’ve had before, but more typically Antarctic according to the crew. They keep commenting on how lucky we’ve been with weather and they hope we get to experience ‘proper’ Antarctica before we leave. I wasn’t keen or silly enough and had my BBQ in the dining room with other softies. I keep finding days and events with no photos because of the lost SD card, really disappointed I don’t have any of the keen ones, outside in beanies, gloves and everything else warm they could find, eating their burgers.

The mountaineers had an eventful morning, with the young Australian guy, Adam, from Melbourne having a scary incident. Unfortunately the crevassing proved problematic on the way down with him falling in one which required both Cube and Mal’s assistance to get him out.Poor guy was quite shaken and everyone was really shocked.

Think my big night out camping was taking its toll, dinner and an early night for me.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antarctica, Mid-life travel, Solo female travel, Travel