|65°11’ S / 064°07’ W
It is an early start for many, as we cruise through the beautiful Lemaire Channel. Despite the low cloud, the views are spectacular as we pass through the channel towards our morning landing site at Petermann Island. The Channel is nicknamed the ‘Kodak Gap’ due it is photogenic qualities, and it does not disappoint with many icebergs littering the waters and the snow peaks bordering each side of Hondius as we pass through.
It is another early start for the Race the Planet (RTP) team, as they head ashore at 6am to begin the next leg of their race. Beginning at the Groussac Refuge, an Argentine naval refuge cabin, the track loops up over the ridge and southwards. Perhaps the most picturesque loop of the race so far, with many of the competitors relieved the weather has improved since yesterday and they can enjoy the race in relative calm and clear conditions.
After an earlier breakfast, many of us get ready for our morning activities on and around Petermann Island. The mountaineers are first ashore, taking in the spectacular scenery as they hike up Megalestris Hill. The kayakers also take to the water and get a surprise visit from some Humpback Whales as they cruise over in the zodiacs to their starting position. Once in the kayaks, the sites are incredible with many icebergs grounded at the southern end of the island, and the numerous penguin rookeries dotted along the coastline.
For those of us landing ashore, we are greeted by numerous Gentoos and a lone Weddell Seal hauled out in front of the Groussac Refuge. Heading out towards the north of the island, we get some brilliant views of nesting Adelie penguins, who are beginning to court and build nests despite the deep snow still present in many areas. The weather conditions are fantastic for the landing with barely a breath of wind and some patches of blue appearing above the low clouds. Maybe not the ideal weather for a sun tan, but perfect for photography with many of us making use of the light conditions to snap pictures of the many penguins around. The contrast between the black of the penguins, the white of the snow and ice, and the greys of the rock underneath made for some brilliant images.
Once we have all enjoyed the sights on Petermann Island, we make a timely escape back to Hondius, with the wind and snow picking up as forecast. Cozy and warm back aboard, we all enjoy a buffet lunch with the views of the Lemaire Channel outside. With the weather picking up, the wind and snow returning, we settle in for a more relaxed afternoon onboard. The semifinals of the Chess Tournament are held in the lounge, just before Chloe delivers a great lecture on plankton and their importance to the Antarctica ecosystem.
Our usual daily Recap in the evening is shortened with advice given to dress up nice and warm for a surprise dinner afterwards: an Antarctic BBQ! All of us soon take to the aft deck to enjoy some beautiful barbecued treats, with a huge spread of meat, veggies, salads, desserts and drinks laid on by the crew. Despite the low temperatures, most of us brave the cold to eat on deck and enjoy the views of Paradise Bay. With the eating over some stayed for a little dance, but the icy temperatures soon have everyone running back inside for a warm drink in the lounge.