(How did the two of us come to travel to Antarctica on a Russian oceanographic ship? What did we experience in the first two wild weeks of this adventure? For all the exciting photos and past installments, scroll down to earlier posts.)
"THEY'RE NOW CALLING IT A CYCLONE," One Ocean Expeditions leader Boris Wise told our group of Antarctic voyagers during dinner on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov on November 12. "The winds are over 50 knots. We're heading right for the eye of it."
Almost two weeks into our multi-stop trip from the tip of South America to Antarctica organized by the great British zoologist, wildlife photographer, writer and conservationist Mark Carwardine, Pamelia and I were getting close to the vast white continent—and also close to a massive storm, the second big blow of our voyage. We were seeing the Southern Ocean at its classic best, meaning wildest, and none of the hearty souls on board the Sergey Vavilov was complaining. We all loved the adventure.
Let me pause to offer these words of reassurance to any of you who may be intrigued by the idea of going to Antarctica but are seasickness-prone: I am too. I learned during this voyage to preload on Bonine motion-sickness tablets, stick to my bunk as much as possible in high waves and endure jolts of electricity on the underside of my wrist from an anti-seasickness wristband that helped me immensely. I never got seasick—just a little queasy—throughout as rough a voyage as any you'll experience. So don't be deterred.
For three more days we rode turbulent seas—50-foot waves that dwarfed the 30-foot giants we'd gone through earlier—but thanks to deft navigating by our Russian captain, we avoided worse. At last we arrived at the South Shetland Islands, on Antarctica's doorstep. We now were in a world of icebergs. Pamelia was about to set foot on her seventh continent and I on my sixth.
Because of continuing waves, winds and weather, we could not go ashore for a day, but took Zodiacs through the icy world near Turret Point on King George Island in the South Shetlands. I've put together two photo galleries below, one made up of Pamelia and my shots and one of photos taken by fellow voaygers Ruediger and Eva Loechner. (Thanks again, Ruediger and Eva.)
The next morning, November 14, we awoke to a 26-degree F air temperature, 30 mph winds and a 29-degree water temperature—the perfect Antarctic feeling for our expedition to Mikkelson Point, Antarctica. This would be the day Pamelia added her seventh continent. I'll let the photos below tell the story of yet another spectacular morning of exploration.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT ANTARCTIC POST: We'll be taking you to Neko Harbor in Antarctica, our final stop on the continent before a voyage back to civilization through hurricane-force winds in the Drake Passage. Oh yeah. This story ain't over yet. —Craig Neff and Pamelia Markwood