Icebergs, penguins and pyjamas
I awoke today Dec 8 at 5.40 a.m. to an unfamiliar sound – l’Astrolabe crunching her way through sheets of ice. After days of wild seas the ship’s progress has slowed as she makes her way through the floating ice.
After months of anticipation, I sat up in my bunk and peered out through the cabin port hole to see icebergs, it’s an amazing feeling!
I rushed onto deck, wearing a polar jacket and my pyjamas tucked into my polar boots. As far as the eye could see there were large chunks of floating ice.
I spotted a baby penguin on the ice but as soon as the ship neared, or was it my purple pyjamas, it dived into the icy water and disappeared.
Large Antarctic icebergs have been spotted floating north past Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean in recent weeks as global warming melts the southern ice continent.
We are 64 degrees south and the outside temperature is nearly minus 2 degrees Celsius. A very light wind is blowing from the northeast and the sea is calm.
For days it looked like there were very few people travelling on l’Astrolabe, with most holed up in their cabins fighting off seasickness.
Now we are in calmer waters, the ship has come alive. People are all over the deck, previously a no-go zone due to the risk of being washed overboard, taking in the breathtaking views.
Our chef continues to amaze us with his culinary delights. Today we ate pizza packed with olives and capsicum for entree and rare steak and chips for lunch, followed, as always by a selection of fine French cheeses and fresh fruit.
It has been easy to pass the hours away on l’Astrolabe watching French movies — comedies are the best as you don’t need to understand the language to recognise the funny parts.
Today we will do our last helicopter training before we fly off the ship tomorrow for Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson’s camp at Commonwealth Bay, where we will live for six weeks, restoring the huts which have clung to the ice for 98 years.
The Mawson’s Hut Foundation Expedition 2009/10 leader Tony Stewart crammed all 10 of us into a six berth cabin yesterday to again practise emergency and medical procedures.
The training for my first Antarctic trip has been excellent and it’s comforting to know I’m in very safe hands. Stay tuned for my first day on the ice.
(You can track the ship here)