||75 49 2 N 003 18 0 W
As we stir in our comfortable gently rocking bunks, bodies twitching thinking of breakfast or the toilet. The day dawns dull …the sky is overcast with clouds as we slid again into the broken edge of the pack ice. Everyone has high expectations after our dramatic encounter with the swimming bear amongst the ice floes yesterday. How could it get any better than a day landing on Jan Mayen, experiencing whales, Ivory gulls and interesting lectures.
Well, it just did, no sooner after we finish breakfast and start scanning the ice for a discordant creamy coloured lump when suddenly, an excited passenger spots a seal carcass, the bones protruding dramatically from what was left of the body. Binoculars scanned left and right then an excited cry…there!!!! We have another bear in our sights. This time a magnificent healthy specimen resting on a large floe after his feast on the adjacent recent kill only occasionally looking briefly at us, being more pre-occupied with resting, fitfully dozing, raising its head only occasionally. Everyone managed to take terrific photographs of the bear and the hundreds of birds wheeling about the vessel. What a start to another great day.
At 11am, Ralf our friendly exceedingly professional chef delivered a detailed explanation of the intricacies of the catering side of the vessel. It was apparent from the account of the ordering complexities that it was a monumental task to ensure the smooth operation of the catering side of the vessel. 8000 eggs taken on board in Holland, cheese- 150 kilos in 11 days to keep the Dutch happy. 150 kilos of rice for the crew for 11 days …the intricates of ‘fridge’ management, container delivery, fresh produce etc., all mind bogglingly complex and this is even before Ralf the chef and staff, start composing these beautiful dishes in the kitchen. The operation is awesome and the presentation and food quality simply superb. Easily one of the most interesting talks on board.
Next was our nautical expert guide Bill with a highly detailed account of Hondius, firstly giving a perspective by comparing the vessel with Plancius and Ortelius then focussing on the construction and operation. His explanations… [often humorous to sustain interest] combine serious points with fun to retain interest. In the afternoon a large audience listened to our Acoustic researcher expert Ashleigh explain the fascinating audio facts about Beluga, Humpbacks, Sperm and Blue whale sonar, and the astonishing deep diving properties of beaked whales etc.
A surprise announcement had us surging with excitement as Sara announces we are going to land on the sea ice! The team launch the zodiacs, scout a large piece of ice to ensure it is safe and slowly and diligently bring us to the ice in groups of 40. We all feel so excited to get to experience this and even the Expedition Team were smiling from ear to ear!
Another super Oceanwide expedition day ended as our super Chef Ralf organised music and a BBQ on the deck in the ice…how could this get any better we thought! Well unbelievably it did, during frantic wild joyous dancing on the aft deck an ivory gull flies casually past us on the starboard side. Creating an exit from the dance floor as everyone rushed cheering to the rail. What an amazing Oceanwide Expeditions day … excitement, education and endless FUN!