HDS27-24, trip log, Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 22.01.2024
Position: 54° 51.8 ’S / 068° 01.9’W
Wind: W 6/7
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +7

Its embarkation day! The day we have been waiting for forever! It’s a sunny but windy day in Ushuaia and as we approach the port, we can see our beautiful ship Hondius in prime position at the pier. We line up at the gangway to board the ship, the pier is very busy with ships, people and vehicles bustling about. We climb the gangway and are cheerfully greeted by the expedition and hotel teams. We check in and are quickly whisked away to our cabins, our new homes for the next 10 days. Some of us have room mates and we quickly make our introductions and get settled.

There’s not too much time to get cosy, as soon as everyone has boarded, we are called to the lounge for our mandatory safety briefing. Here we learn the rules of the ship and how to don our life jackets and where our lifeboat is located. After we complete the drill it’s time for to return to the lounge for captain’s welcome party and introductions from the expedition staff. Champagne and canapes are served as we are introduced to all the guides who will be taking care of us over the next few days. We are lucky to have a very multicultural team on board with a wide range of expertise.

Once captain’s welcome is complete, we all file down to the restaurant for the first time to enjoy a delicious buffet prepared by the galley team. Everyone is making new friends and the whole restaurant is buzzing with excitement. Once we are done with our meals, we head up to the lounge for the final time to complete our mandatory IAATO and Zodiac briefings. It’s a long day but completing the briefing today means more time for fun tomorrow. Finally, we are finished for the day, and we are free to explore the ship and settle into our cabins. We are nervous and excited about making the crossing of the infamous Drake Passage over the next two days, but the spirit of adventure is with us and we dream of what tomorrow will bring!

Day 2: At sea, sailing south across the Drake Passage

At sea, sailing south across the Drake Passage
Date: 23.01.2024
Position: 57°01.8’ S / 065°55.1’ W
Wind: NW 4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +4

Today was the first full day at sea on the Drake Passage! The night was a bit wavy with 3 to 4-metre waves which lasted until the morning. Although some people were seasick, the majority slowly got used to the waves. The morning started with the first “good morning, good morning, good morning” wake up call from expedition leader Sara, after which breakfast was served between 8 and 9 AM.

At 09.30 AM, an announcement was made to bring our warm thick woollen socks to deck 3 to try on the warm, waterproof muck boots. Afterwards at 10.30 AM, you went outside with the guides to do a wildlife watch! No one will see wildlife from inside their cabins, so the best place to be is outside on deck! There was a bit of fog unfortunately, but we did manage to see Wandering and Southern Royal Albatross, nonetheless. Furthermore, there were White-chinned Petrels and Blue Petrels flying around Hondius. Later, at 11.30 AM, Hazel presented a lecture in the observation lounge about Albatrosses and other birds we might encounter during the rest of our voyage. Here we got to see the actual length of an Albatross, up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet)!

Then, lunch was served between 12.30 and 13.30 PM, after which the kayakers had their mandatory kayak briefing. Here, information on safety and what (not) to do during kayaking trips was explained. And now, the kayakers are ready for their adventure!

Furthermore, time at sea was spent playing games, drinking tea and perhaps if you didn’t get seasick, you might even read some books from the nice collection in the library. Martin held his lecture with tips and tricks for photography in the observation lounge at 16.00 PM. Now you are all ready to take breathtakingly photos in the Antarctic Peninsula! The day ended with a brief recap of the day, and a small presentation of the history of the Antarctic Peninsula by Rose and a small lecture with tips on seasickness by Andres. Afterwards, a plated dinner was served in the Dining room with tiramisu as dessert, a classic! Now, the first day at sea on the Drake Passage has been completed; one more, and then we’re finally ready to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula!

Day 3: At sea, sailing south across the Drake Passage

At sea, sailing south across the Drake Passage
Date: 24.01.2024
Position: 61°14.1’ S / 064°54.1’ W
Wind: NW 5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 0

The program for today is filled with a lot of preparation for our visit to Antarctica. As our second day at sea starts with Sara’s wake-up call, we are already mid-way to Antarctica across the Drake Passage. Fortunately for most of us, Neptune is merciful and the sea is relatively calm.

After breakfast Felicity, one of our expedition guides, invites us for a lecture about the whales of the Southern Ocean during which she describes many surprising facts about the largest animals of our planet. In the meantime, another of our guides, Jerry, gives a talk about the same subject to Mandarin-speaking guests. Soon afterwards, Sara announces a half-an hour wildlife watch on the outer decks. All guides and guests move outside to get some fresh air with hopes to spot some interesting animals. We see some sea birds of the South Atlantic, but some lucky ones even spot a Fin Whale blow! Most of us gather in the aft of Hondius due to wind, but eventually all decks become busy and crowded, being a good opportunity to integrate and mingle with other guests and our expedition team. After the watch our guides Jakub and Rose start their presentations, respectively about the role of ice for the global environment in English, and about the heroic age of Antarctic exploration in Mandarin.

The next position of our daily schedule is lunch, after which Sara invites us to deck 3 for a mandatory biosecurity check. We bring our Muckboots, jackets, trousers, backpacks and all the gear we plan to use onshore in Antarctica. The expedition team is checking it thoroughly, making sure every tiny dust or seed is removed to minimize the risk of contamination of Antarctica with alien species. Soon afterwards, our camping guides, Saskia and Valeria, perform a camping briefing to those bravest (or the craziest) of us, who for any reason decided they will spend a night on snow and without a tent. The last mandatory meeting of the day is organized by our kayak guides, Adam and Nick, who invite all kayakers to get fitted with the kayaking gear.

Later in the afternoon we all gather again in the lounge for Sara’s lecture about penguins and soon afterwards for a daily recap. Sara presents the plans for tomorrow – our first day on the white continent – which whets our appetites for landing. After another delicious dinner, we start the evening with popcorn watching a comedy movie about adorable penguins that we cannot wait to see in the wild – Happy Feet! Everybody is excited for tomorrow – the exploration finally starts!

Day 4: Landings at Orne Harbour and Danco Island

Landings at Orne Harbour and Danco Island
Date: 25.01.2024
Position: 64°38.4’ S / 62°31.2’ W
Wind: NW 4-5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 0

As the clouds hugged the peaks of the surrounding mountains and light snow dusted the decks, we pulled up to Orne Harbour, the location of our first morning’s operation. Due to strong winds, the expedition team organised a landing / lecture split, so with half the ship staying on the ship to begin with, they enjoyed a lecture by expedition guide, Saskia. The lecture was all about the Antarctic Belgica Expedition and the mapping of the Gerlache Strait, a popular area that we regularly transit through.

Meanwhile on shore, many of us started zig-zagging our way up towards the Chinstrap Penguin colony that nest on the ridge. Once at the colony, we were presented with beautiful views across the Gerlache Strait and down into Orne Harbour. Looking down into the Gerlache, due to the wind whipping across the ridge, it created mini snow tornados, spires of snow whipping across the ground down the mountain.

This morning there was also an extremely impressive calving from a glacier in the bay, consequently, it released a lot of brash ice which was blown towards the landing site. Soon after the calving, the landing site had a solid 30 metre wide covering of brash ice, making for a challenging Zodiac shuttle! However, the Zodiacs are military grade and handed the brash ice brilliantly – an additional adventure for us all!

Eventually we were all back on board to warm up and enjoy a delicious lunch created by the galley team. Due to the ice slowing down the Zodiac shuttles, we were slightly delayed and so we transited round to Danco Island for our afternoon operation and arrived there by 14:30. Danco Island is nestled in the Errera Channel and so it was sheltered enough for a Zodiac cruise and landing split. Both groups of cruising were treated with an abundance of wildlife! We encountered not just one, but several Leopard Seals, Weddell Seals and even a Crabeater Seal. Many of the Zodiacs also encountered a resting Humpback Whale which fluked several times.

On land, we were able to enjoy a short hike up to the main Gentoo Penguin colony and then continue further to the peak of Danco Island, an elevation of approximately 150m. Scattered throughout the colony, there were many Gentoo Penguin chicks, ranging from several days old to 3-4 weeks old. With Brown Skuas soaring above and making hunting sorties into the colony, it made for some very entertaining but tense viewing.

This afternoon was also the first kayaking outing! There were 23 lucky kayakers that braved the Errera Channel and paddled in amongst beautiful ice bergs and porpoising penguins. Just before heading back to the ship, everyone had the opportunity to polar plunge! Around 50 of us took the plunge and braved the icy Antarctic waters!

The end of the day was rounded off with the daily recap, detailing the plans for tomorrow, followed by a delicious plated dinner served by the dining team.

Day 5: Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island (almost) and Port Charcot

Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island (almost) and Port Charcot
Date: 26.01.2024
Position: 65°05.5’ S / 063° 58.4’ W
Wind: W 5-6
Weather: Windy and snowy
Air Temperature: -1

We awoke early this morning as we were excited to see our ship Hondius pass through the famous Lemaire Channel. Many of us gathered on the bow and decks to see the towering mountains either side and the ship glided through the channel. The weather wasn’t on our side as it was a bit windy and rainy but it added to the atmosphere as we observed the scenery around, still beautiful, even doused in cloud.

When we passed through the other side we made our way to our next landing site – Peterman Island. Whilst in transit we all attended the restaurant for a hearty breakfast. On arrival it was unfortunate to see the weather was not playing ball. The wind was over 50 knots and the ship had to move a lot to avoid moving icebergs. Sadly, the weather was out of operational limits and Sara had to inform us that the landing would have to be cancelled but not to worry expedition guide Chloe Power gave us an interesting lecture on seals to pass the time.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. We enjoyed a delicious buffet before heading up to the lounge for a midday recap. During this recap the expedition staff answered all our questions from the question box. There were some really-good questions! During this time the ship repositioned to the location of our second landing. We were excited to hear from Sara that conditions looked good for a landing. Our expedition team went ashore and set up the site for us and then it was time to go ashore.

As we alighted our Zodiacs, we cruised past a huge iceberg graveyard to the shore. Port Charcot has an amazing history, it is the location of the second Charcot expedition which overwintered in the bay and built a magnetic hut and cairn on the island. We had a lovely walk up the hills to the artefacts from expedition and to the Gentoo colonies all around. We were very excited to find some Adelie Penguins nesting among the Gentoo and Chinstraps – all three brushtails in one photo!

We enjoyed our time onshore and all too soon it was time to leave. We were excited to enjoy a short Zodiac cruise amongst the iceberg graveyard before returning to the ship to warm ourselves up and of course finished up with recap and a delicious buffet dinner.

To cap off a wonderful day, the intrepid campers headed out into the dark(ish) night to spend time sleeping (or just staring into the sky) in the heart of the majestic continent of Antarctica at the wonderfully named Hovgaard.

Day 6: Damoy Point and Paradise Harbour

Damoy Point and Paradise Harbour
Date: 27.01.2024
Position: 64°48.5’ S / 063°30.1’ W
Wind: W 3
Weather: Beautiful
Air Temperature: +2

Today, the campers came back from a night camping in the cold and windy outdoors, their first night of camping on the Antarctic continent! The day started with a 06:45 wake-up call then, after breakfast, the blue group was invited to join the expedition team ashore at a landing site called ‘Damoy Point’, while the orange group spent their morning listening to Joyce’s lecture ‘Antarctica below: exploring the wonders of the deep ocean floor’.

Today, the weather was stunning, a true summer day! Ashore, you could visit Damoy hut, which was used by the British Antarctic Survey. Near the hut was an airport strip that they used to transfer researchers which were coming from ships to Rothera Station. Here, you had the opportunity to look inside the hut where the researchers would stay for short periods of time. The walk was circular; next to seeing the hut, you walked past a Gentoo Penguin colony, and we even had a visit from a Weddell Seal! Of course, not only the people on land enjoyed their visit; the kayakers had a grant time kayaking near Damoy Point with very calm blue waters.

It was quite some transfer time to our next destination: Paradise Harbour! During the afternoon, the sun kept on shining, which was perfect for our zodiac cruise in the region. Here, an Argentinian research station called Brown Station could be spotted from our Zodiacs. During the Zodiac cruise, you were told the story about the research station; it was built in 1951 and was rebuilt in 1984 after it was burnt down, by the station’s doctor who did not want to spend another winter there! But other than that, Paradise Harbour truly is a paradise on its own, especially with the good weather that accompanied us. Both the people enjoying a Zodiac cruise and kayakers enjoyed the great views the bay has to offer. In the middle of Paradise Harbour, we were given Chai tea with whiskey to enjoy next to the beautiful views and sounds of ice calving all around us! At the end, we were surprised by a Weddell Seal laying in the sun and even a Humpback Whale who was feeding in the area.

Back onboard, a BBQ was waiting for you! There was lots of food outside on Deck 5, where hotel staff and crew did their absolute best to provide wonderful food for you! It was amazing to have delicious food served outside while looking over Paradise Harbour with Humpback Whales showing up here and there. The day ended up on the dance floor, which marked the end of Day 6 of the cruise, for some later than others!

Day 7: Foyn Harbour and Palaver Point

Foyn Harbour and Palaver Point
Date: 28.01.2024
Position: 64° 32.2’ S / 062° 00.1’ W
Wind: N 2
Weather: Foggy
Air Temperature: +1

Good morning, good morning, good morning!

A difficult wake up especially after last night’s party, what a fun time!!! This ship has given us one after another experience to keep in our memories.

One more good breakfast and we are ready to go! The first stop is Foyn Harbour. They have told us the story of the wreckage of the Governoren, a gigantic moving whaling station that was set on fire during the wrap up party (lucky for us there were no oil lamps last night!!). And we are going where it lies in waiting for the passengers to visit.

The moment we were about to launch the zodiac a call from the bridge came by. WHALES!!!!

It was a snowy, cold and windy morning but our guides managed to bring us close to them. It was a magnificent and emotional sighting. They are beautiful and majestic animals, just dancing in the waves, but soon it was time to let them be. We headed to the shipwreck and gazed into the remains of the ship, sunk more than a hundred years ago, a piece of rusted metal bent by the power of heat and fire and just when we turn around to return to the ship to our surprise there were three Fur Seals under the near cliff. First time in the journey, sleepy and not even curious about us, but of course we started the machine gun of photographs until our kind guide said it was time to go.

Next to us passed a fast orange line, it was the kayak group, what brave people struggling with the waves, enjoying with us this amazing expedition. Of course, because it was the day appointed for that, on the return the guides spotted more whales, so they made a final approach for our amusement. We were thrilled in happiness.

After a delicious lunch from Bawa the head chef, we headed to Palaver Point, a colony of Chinstrap Penguins. The afternoon was windy, snowy, and foggy – almost a white-out! Doesn’t matter though, we headed there on the Zodiacs with our fierce drivers and landed with the welcoming braying of a busy colony and that now familiar smell in the air…

After an hour or so struggling in the climate, the merciful sun appeared on the horizon and suddenly it all cleared up. No more wind, no more cold, no more fog, blue sky, a whole new day in the same day, that is Antarctica, a beautiful last afternoon in the peninsula, with the bonus of gazing at yet more whales in the distance while we were returning, with a warm breeze in our face, and a big smile in our hearts.

Day 8: Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island

Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island
Date: 29.01.2024
Position: 62° 59.0’ S / 060° 33.4’ W
Wind: N 2
Weather: Rain
Air Temperature: +1

The day started very early, with an early wake up. We arrived at Deception Island; this ring-shaped island, which is the caldera of an active volcano which has a narrow entrance, just 230 meters (755 feet) wide, called Neptune’s Bellows. The moment of traversing this spectacular entrance is breathtaking.

From the beginning we knew that’s its was going to be a very special landing. Since the Deception Island volcano is active, geothermal activity still takes place inside the caldera. Sea water temperatures of 70°C (150°F) have been recorded, and eruptions occurred as recently as 1970. Sealers, whalers, explorers, and scientists have been sailing into the island’s Port Foster since 1820, and remains of these expeditions can still be seen. Our Landing started with different historical remains that cover this island, including buildings of the Whalers and the British Base B that acted as the center for the Falkland Islands Dependencies Aerial Survey Expedition.

The beautiful beach with steam, gave us the opportunity to take amazing pictures, along the beach were some Fur Seals; they were little curious about us, and with some “noises” they just were telling us to maintain distance. Just at the end of the beach and after a little hike we reached a viewpoint above Neptune’s Window and Southeast Point, from this summit, you enjoyed great views of Port Foster and little rock columns called the “Sewing Machine Needles”. The first group started the morning with a very special Zodiac cruise across the Bellows with the kayakers close behind, the landscape making us take hundreds more pictures, caverns, funny Chinstraps trying to climb an iceberg (with varying degrees of success!) made of this morning something that we are going to remember for the rest of our life. After we changed groups so, everyone had the opportunity to see the island from land and sea.

After this amazing morning, we return to Hondius to enjoy an amazing buffet. At two o’clock we had the opportunity to learn more about Deception Island, Tiphanie presents “Intro to Deception” and Julia talked about “Whaling”, plus a fascinating video of the last eruption. One more surprise awaited us - hot chocolate on the deck before the Drake was calling us one more time!

Once in the lounge we listen carefully to some of Expedition team talking about their favourite Antarctic wildlife: Fizz (Leopard Seals and Wedell seals), Simon (Sheathbills), Joyce (Humpbacks), Hazel (Krill) and Sara (Orcas).

At the recap, Sara showed to us how big are the Whales using a string (a very long one!) the Blue Whale crossing the lounge into the Lecture room. Jacob explained to us “Why Antarctica is so cold” and Saskia brought us a real sized 1:1 of a young whale…nine metres long carried in by the expedition team. To finish this amazing day, we enjoyed a gorgeous dinner whilst sharing stories.

Day 9: At sea, heading north across the Drake Passage

At sea, heading north across the Drake Passage
Date: 30.01.2024
Position: 59°31.7’ S / 063°56.4’ W
Wind: NW 4
Weather: Clear
Air Temperature: +6

‘Good morning, good morning, good morning’. We’ve been woken up today by Sara at 07:45, but shortly later Simon announced, there were three Fin Whales to be seen approaching the ship. And a few minutes after, the call came that there were a few quite close to Hondius. Some of you were already awake and enjoyed the sightings from the bridge. The Fin Whales hung around the ship for about an hour. A perfect way to start this first sea day across the Drake Passage.

A full day with several lectures was planned for today. We’ve started with a great lecture from Felicity where she told you the different Marine Threats to marine mammals and she shared her passion for, in her eyes, the solution to the worldwide carbon dioxide problem, being the importance of having many whales in our oceans. At the same time Rose shared her knowledge about Ocean Pollution in the lecture room for our Mandarin speaking guests.

The weather was just amazing today. A lot of you went out on deck again at 10:15 to join the Expedition Team outside for our Wildlife Watch while at the Drake Passage. Thirty minutes of fresh air, having a chat and to look for wildlife. It was quiet around us at this time, but the sun was lovely to enjoy being on the outer decks.

As we are unfortunately heading back to Ushuaia, we don’t need our Muck Boots anymore and we had to return them to Deck 3. Some of us ventured into the lounge for a coffee and others enjoyed the presentation of Sara about different women working and living in Antarctica. Followed by another delicious buffet lunch in the dining room.

At 14:00 there was another presentation from Hazel this time. Some of us were really interested to hear from her ‘Where in the world to watch whales, to get us excited for another holiday. At 16:00 Adam (in English) and Jerry (in Mandarin) both shared their passion for the history of the early exploring days in their lectures titled ‘Quest for the South Pole’. With the snowy weather that we had on this trip we could get a tiny bit of a feel to what these men had to go through on their great adventure to be the first to the South Pole in 1911.

We all gathered in the lounge again at 18:15 to hear about the plans for tomorrow, but more so even the weather for another day at the Drake. During recap kayak guides Adam and Nick showed a video they made from the days when they went out, Chris explained the theory behind the latitude and longitude and Rose told us about the Antarctica geopolitics. We then all went for dinner - this time without soup as the weather predicted didn’t allow soup to stay in the bowls! Luckily it wasn’t that bad though, we enjoyed the other courses and another interesting day was over.

Day 10: At sea, sailing north across the Drake Passage

At sea, sailing north across the Drake Passage
Date: 31.01.2024
Position: 55°35.6’ S / 066°04.5’ W
Wind: NW 4
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: +6

We awoke by the gentle roll of the Southern Ocean and a few Wandering and Southern Royal Albatrosses flying around the Hondius.

Valeria started the morning off with an entertaining presentation about The Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901–1903 led by Otto Nordenskjöld. The expeditions’ ship, the Antarctic, captained by CA Larsen, sailed to Snow Hill Island to establish a research station where six members of the expedition overwintered and conducted various scientific studies. The rest of the expedition set sail for the South Orkney Islands. However, after the winter on the way back to Snow Hill Island, the Antarctic got crushed in the ice and sank. At this point, the expedition members were divided into three groups. One of these overwintered an extra year on Snow Hill Island, and the other two groups were forced to build stone huts in order to overwinter at Hope Bay and Paulet Island. By complete chance, the party at Hope Bay and Snow Hill Island met on Oct 12th, 1903, at Cape Well-met, commemorating the long-delayed union after twenty months of enforced separation. An Argentinean vessel, Uruguay, then rescued all three parties in November 1903. The expedition team on board the Hondius had fun acting these scenes out, under Valeria’s enthusiastic directing and narration.

By mid-morning it was time for our ‘Wildlife Watch’, to get some fresh air and scan through the troughs and crests for marine and seabird life. The weather was sunny again today and it was nice to be on the outer decks enjoying our final day crossing the Drake Passage. Chris then gave a talk about his time as a Field Trainer at New Zealand’s research station, Scott Base, in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. He told us many stories of blizzard like conditions, encounters with wildlife, and how he trained scientists and other station personnel to work and survive in the coldest and windiest continent on Earth. Jerry also gave a talk about Chinese research stations and some of the incredible work that is conducted by Chinese scientists in Antarctica.

After another delicious buffet lunch in the dining room, Jakub and Jerry gave us insightful talks about the future of ice on our planet. They told us about the projected retreat of some of the world’s glaciers and how this will affect our world’s sea level.

Some of us spent the rest of the day playing board and card games in the Main Lounge, keeping a keen eye out on deck for wildlife, exchanging contacts with new friendships made, or sitting back with a cuppa tea enjoying the easing swell as we approached the South American continent. Sara then gave us an exciting talk about other destinations Oceanwide offers. It definitely made some of us eager and excited to think about another holiday!

In the evening, Captain welcomed us in the Main Lounge for a farewell cocktail, where we got to say our goodbyes and thank yous to the whole crew and staff of the Hondius. We then got to watch the incredible slideshow of our trip put together by the wonderful Martin and his impressive photography skills. It was such a special way to celebrate our fantastic 10 days in this spectacular part of the world.

Day 11: Disembarkation back in Ushuaia

Disembarkation back in Ushuaia
Date: 01.02.2024
Position: 54° 35’ S / 35° 46’ W
Wind: SW 4
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +8

Early in the morning we arrived back in the port of Ushuaia. Our bags were packed, and we were ready to disembark the Hondius for the last time. We were feeling a mixture of sadness that our journey to Antarctica had come to an end, but also a feeling of satisfaction that our travels were over, and we could head home to rest. We waved goodbye to the crew and staff and then dispersed into the city. Over the last three weeks we have seen some incredibly remote and wild places and the creatures that defy the odds and called them home. We have learnt inspiring new things about the polar environment and our precious oceans, and we have memories that will live forever in our minds. Hopefully many of us will think of these special habitats and species for years to come and endeavour to protect wildlife and the spectacular earth that we share with it.

With that in mind, here is a quote from the British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough - ‘’It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.’’


Tripcode: HDS27-24
Dates: 22 Jan - 1 Feb, 2024
Duration: 10 nights
Ship: m/v Hondius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

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Hondius is the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel and was built from the ground up for expedition cruising.

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