OTL30-19, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation, Ushuaia

Embarkation, Ushuaia
Date: 06.02.2019
Position: 54°51.1‘S, 068°01.4‘W
Wind: Variable
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: =14

It is late afternoon on what turned out to be a lovely blue-sky day in Ushuaia when the first passengers ar-rive to board the Ortelius. Our new family, from the young to the young at heart, walked down the pier with clear excitement and anticipation. The expedition staff greeted each guest as they climbed the gangway for the first time and directed them to the reception to check in. The hotel manager Sigi and his assistant Melanie quickly had all passengers assigned and shown to their cabins where they will spend the next 11 days. Once onboard, an announcement was made to meet in the lecture room for the mandatory safety briefing, followed by an abandon ship drill— practicing how to mus-ter and put on the lifejackets just to be sure everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Af-ter following our muster captains up on deck to get familiar with the life boat locations, the drill was fin-ished and after a small break the group met again in the bar to toast the journey with Captain Mika. Then, as he headed back to the bridge to begin departure preparations, Sigi gave an introduction to the ship and how life will work onboard. Our expedition leader Michael continued on, as the ship blasted its horn and the Ortelius pulled away from the dock, with a brief introduction to the voyage and a reminder about how the weather will guide all of our actions—thus we have a Plan A… but also Plan B, C, D… we got the picture—we need to be flexible! Then the rest of the expedition team introduced themselves quickly including our Doctor Lauren who reminded us to always keep one hand for the ship and to pay attention to hygiene so we can all stay as healthy as possible. Finally, after promises of more briefings to come, dinner was announced and everyone got out on deck to take a few photos of the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia in the distance before retiring below to enjoy a fine dinner by Chef Heinz and the incredible kitchen and din-ing room team, much to the delight of all those new aboard and setting the standard for the rest of the cruise. After dinner, with no more briefings or meetings to be had, many couldn’t resist getting back out on deck to watch the evening. Gazing out over the railings, the first motion of the ship was felt—a faint swell—reminding us that the open ocean was not too far off, you could even glimpse it on the forward horizon. It was difficult to head inside but the need for sleep, or perhaps a last nightcap at the bar, eventu-ally wins out over all. Some folks focused on getting comfortable in their cabins, others gathered in the bar—chatting about all the exciting things to come during the voyage and bonding over a few drinks while Rolando provided wonderful service and witty banter. The doctor also made herself available to discuss with those concerned how to manage sea sickness over the next few days on the infamous Drake Passage. The staff informed the passengers that during the night we would be leaving the shelter of the Beagle Channel and enter open water so to prepare for the “motion of the ocean”. Properly prepared, we drifted off, cosy in bed, dreaming of the adventures in store.

Day 2: At Sea in the Drake Passage

At Sea in the Drake Passage
Date: 07.02.2019
Position: 56°08.6‘S, 066°23.0‘W
Wind: W Bft 8
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +8

The Drake Passage can be a challenge for some people, as we learned on our first day at sea. With high winds and a maximum swell of 5 meters it was a challenge to go about with ‘normal’ activities onboard. Staying in our cabins and trying to avoid sea sickness seemed to be everyone’s best plan. From the bridge some sea birds were spotted, but it seemed that even they somehow were avoiding the less-than-perfect weather conditions. Bill, our staff trainer & onboard artist, captured the mood perfectly.

Day 3: At Sea in the Drake Passage

At Sea in the Drake Passage
Date: 08.02.2019
Position: 60°05.3’S, 064°53.5‘W
Wind: S Bft 2
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +4

It was a slightly different start into the day from yesterday. The sea had calmed down to almost no waves and we were all happy about it. Life was getting much easier on our ship Ortelius now and the Captain and crew were doing a great job taking a course that reduced the movement of the ship a lot. So we heard the lovely wake up call of our expedition leader Michael at 0730 in the morning and getting out of our beds was much easier than the day before. Outside the ship we had wonderful conditions and a sunny morning. We had a delicious breakfast at 8 o’clock and after that the day became a bit more busy. We started with our mandatory briefing for the Zodiac operations. These are the small and very tough rubber boats which will be used for all our landings during the trip with Ortelius. The briefing was very interesting, and more than that it was useful to know how to get into the boats and go on shore. Safety first for everybody! After learning about the zodiacs, we had a mandatory briefing to learn the IAATO reg-ulations that every touristic company operating down in Antarctica has to follow. This briefing is necessary for everybody who want to do landings in such a unique place as Antarctica, to understand how to be a good tourist and best take care of this amazing place we will visit. The briefing session of the day continued after lunch and we learned more about the different activities offered on this trip that many have already signed up for: kayaking, camping, and diving. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon everybody on the ship was called deck by deck to the “vacuum party”, follow-ing the IAATO rules, to clean the outer gear that will be used on shore . This cleaning is mandatory because we absolutely need to avoid spreading any kind of invasive materials like seeds, parts of plants, sand, bac-teria, and even unknown things. Therefore, we had to use some vacuuming stations the expedition team built up in the lounge to get everything as clean as possible. As the day finished, Michael called us to come to the Bar/ Lounge for our daily recap. Here Michael and the expedition team reviewed what was happen-ing today and the plans for the next day. After the recap there was only one more duty. We went to the dining room for our fabulous evening dinner…

Day 4: Danco Island / Neko Harbor

Danco Island /  Neko Harbor
Date: 09.02.2019
Position: 64°32.2‘S, 062°39.6‘W
Wind: SE Bft 1
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +11

In the early hours Ortelius skirted past the South Shetland Islands and pressed southwards. The morning started very early for a few of us; we made our way onto the decks before breakfast to take in the ap-proaching scenery of the Antarctic continent. We soon found ourselves surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and ice caps. We passed through the Melchior Islands which are almost completely covered in ice. With barely a breath of wind the sea was a still, dark pool, coloured by the ceiling of grey cloud and creating a suitably polar atmosphere. We breakfasted quickly and as we made our way back out onto deck the weather continued to improve, the last whispers of wind died away and the sun came out as we entered the Errera Channel and approached our destination for the morning: Danco Island. The expedition team went ashore to scout the landing and before long we were boarding zodiacs bound for the beach. Danco is a small rounded island home to thousands of Gentoo penguins, skua, and is a resting spot for seals. Once ashore we picked our way carefully up the slope, taking care to avoid the network of penguin highways, and stopping frequently to let the inquisitive birds waddle past us on their way to feed their young. The vantage point above the landing spot was the perfect place to take in our spectacular surroundings. Mountains more than 1000 m high form the flanks of the Errera Channel and glacierets, large cirque glac-iers, and huge snow cornices adorn the jagged peaks. As we paused to take it all in we spotted humpbacks out in the fjord, the noise of their deep exhalations carrying for miles in the still air. After a glorious few hours ashore it was time to head back to the ship and we arrived just in time to take in a sumptuous buffet lunch. With full stomachs and a cup of coffee we were soon recharged and ready for an afternoon of activ-ities. During lunch Ortelius had repositioned and was now steaming into Andvord Bay, a huge horseshoe embayment draped with massive glaciers and vast snowfields. Once again we boarded the zodiacs, and after a short journey through the brash ice we were ashore at Neko Harbour. We stepped ashore and onto the mainland of Antarctica, our first continental landing! From here we walked swiftly up the beach, wary of the possibility of glacial tsunamis close to the shore. We then ventured up the snow slope, skirting round the noisy (and smelly!) rookery of Gentoo penguins. From the top the view was breathtaking; the huge fjord was littered with icebergs, growlers, and brash ice. Amongst this medley of ice the surrounding sunlit mountains reflected in the bright, blue mirror of the fjord waters. Aboard Ortelius once more there was time to take in the surroundings and make the most of the beautiful weather as we steamed further south. In the evening we found ourselves in a quiet bay and here the intrepid campers set out for a night on the ice at Leith Cove, a small round island covered entirely in snow. The backdrop was spectacular, and as the campers settled in those of us on the ship were treated to a sunset that lit the mountains yellow and then pink as the sun dipped behind the huge peaks. After a few last photos of the alpenglow behind the ship and it was time for some well-earned rest, and the end to a fantastic first day in Antarctica. Diving: Our first dive of the trip! This was intended as a check-out dive, with a site selected which had a relatively gentle slope, and divers dropped into the shallow water to do a buoyancy check. We dove at Danco Island, located in a beautiful channel and surrounded by glaciers. The large number of icebergs in this area af-fects the seabed by bouncing along the ocean floor, killing any life not able to move out of the iceberg’s path. One group of divers dropped down to 15m and found that there was significantly more life there—the seabed at that depth is below the ice scour zone so the marine life had not suffered from being plowed and destroyed by moving pieces of ice. Our second dive location was Neko Harbour which gave us a great opportunity to try a more unusual dive-- diving on an iceberg! The visibility was generally better on this site-- however, because the iceberg is made of fresh water, it reduces the local visibility due to the mixing of fresh and salt water. There wasn’t much marine life to be seen on this dive but the beautiful patterns of the iceberg made up for that. The seabed was around 200m below us so this time we didn’t get to see an iceberg resting on the seabed. Kayaking: For our first outing in the kayaks, we were a group of nervous paddlers. We took our time getting into the kayaks, but quite quickly after that everyone was feeling more comfortable in the kayaks. We paddled along the shore of Danco Island and saw lots of penguins. The afternoon kayaking session was around Neko Harbour. This afternoon we got the best that Antarctica ever can offer. We kayaked on a flat calm sea like an ice mirror, with icebergs everywhere and some minke and humpback whales surfacing and blowing near and far. As a perfect ending we paddled past a fat healthy Weddell seal resting on an ice flow on the way back to the ship. As we passed it lazily lifted its head and had one look at us before going back to its beauty sleep. Camping: Our first night of camping came with perfect weather. After our zodiac drivers slowly navigated the way to the landing through a field of brash ice, we landed on shore at 20.30pm. The sun was already low in the sky and the light gave all the surroundings a golden glow. After a group briefing and some instruction on effi-cient snow shovelling, everyone got started digging their sleeping spots for the night. It was no surprise that everyone took a break to watch the sunset - it was picture perfect. As the sun went down everyone settled into their sleeping bags and watched the light change. The views of the hanging glaciers around us and the sounds of the ice cracking was a perfect end to a long day in Antarctica.

Day 5: Lemaire Channel / Pleneau Bay

Lemaire Channel  /  Pleneau Bay
Date: 10.02.2019
Position: 64°57.9’S, 063°26.6‘W
Wind: SW Bft 3
Weather: Calm
Air Temperature: +3

Neptune was still on our side this morning, offering us sunshine and blue sky for this very important day. This morning, ice conditions were ok when Ortelius arrived at the entrance of the famous Lemaire Chan-nel, one of the most beautiful places in the world as Michael had mentioned yesterday in the recap. This very narrow passage along Booth Island is a must see for all expedition cruises but it is very often blocked by ice. Luckily, our ship made its way through nicely at low speed giving us the time to marvel at the hanging glaciers, icebergs, seals, and the many whales the we found all along the channel. It seemed like all the passengers were out on the decks or on the bridge clicking shots from the best angles. We reached the exit of the channel with a bit of time that we used for a lecture from Laurence about Ice which ended up in the right tempo just before lunch. Approaching our planned afternoon landing site at Petermann Island, the expedition team promptly went scouting for a landing place. After half an hour of looking for an appropriate landing site, it was decided that it was not possible to safely disembark passengers there… but our experienced staff is never short of ideas. Plan “B” stands for “better”! The staff zodiacs followed along with Ortelius as she repositioned north off the nearby Pleneau Islands for a spilt zodiac cruise. This spot is famous for penguins, seals, and the “iceberg graveyard”… a shallow area where large icebergs are often stranded and supply eager pas-sengers with awe-inspiring scenery. On the cruise, we discovered that a significant surface of fast ice was still holding between some islands and we were able to observe several crabeater seals hauled out, enjoy-ing the easy spot to bask in the sunshine. The scenery was incredible with the surrounding covered snow mountains, the shining blue water, the gigantic icebergs, the fast ice, and the seals: A great moment of Antarctica ! However, throughout the afternoon the wind picked up and it was hard to keep everyone dry on the return journey to the ship— but our expert drivers did their best! Once back onboard Sigi and Melanie had pre-pared a most welcome treat—a hot cup of gluvine to warm the hands and soul. It was soon time for recap to hear about the day’s highlights and learn tomorrow’s plan at Foyn Harbor and Cuverville island. Chris-tophe also talked about the Belgica expedition of Adrien de Gerlache, Angeles explained the principle of echolocation and Laurence explained the mystery of why ice is blue. Recap finished just on time as a humpback whale breached several time nearby the ship as if to salute the Ortelius. What a nice final touch to a very special day in Antarctica! Diving: Today after several changes to the schedule we arrived at Pleneau Island, just outside of the Lemaire Channel. The dive staff did a 30 minute scout to look for some wildlife and an exciting dive spot and de-cided on a group of icebergs grounded on the shallow waters around Pleneau. Because of the wind, the water visibility didn’t promise to be particularly good at the surface but once the divers descended to around 5m the visibility picked up so we could see the icebergs and observe some beautiful blue streaks running through the ice. Many of us then swam off of the iceberg and away from it along the seabed to find some marine life for the remainder of the dive.

Day 6: Foyn Harbor / Cuverville Island

Foyn Harbor / Cuverville Island
Date: 11.02.2019
Position: 64°32.8‘S, 061°57.9‘W
Wind: SE Bft 1
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +6

Early morning the Ortelius sailed into Wilhelmina Bay. For those who got up early they got an early view of the humpback whales cruising the bay, a promising sight for our adventures to come this day. Captain Mi-ka positioned the ship in front of Enterprise Island for easy zodiac access to Foyn Harbor. With blue skies and no wind we had the perfect conditions for a long morning zodiac cruise. Whalers who operated in the 1900’s knew Enterprise Island. The shipwreck at Foyn Harbour is a silent witness of that era. By 9 o’clock all the guests were on the water and very curious of what wildlife encounters were going to happen. While cruising along the shore we had a very good look at several fur seals resting on the rocky coast and posing like pros with a backdrop of skuas, Antarctic terns and Antarctic shags flying around the bay. We thought spotting a leopard seal and several Weddell seals on the ice floes would be the highlight for the morning, but the true Antarctic experience got even better. Four humpback whales cruised into the bay and came close to our zodiacs. With the engines switched off we listened to the breathing of the whales that slowly moved around in the bay, showing their pectoral fins and tales... a breathtaking experi-ence to be sure! After a short time we left the whales in peace and continued cruising the bay, heading for a close up look at the shipwreck of the Guvernouren. A great spot for the divers to explore and for those in the zodiac too. The visibility of the water was so clear we could see lots of remains of the ship at the bottom of the har-bour. By 12 o’clock lunch was served on board and while guests excitedly shared stories of the morning wildlife experiences, the Ortelius set sail for Cuverville Island. In slightly overcast conditions we made a beautiful landing on the island of which two-thirds is coverered by a permanent ice cap. We were able to have a long afternoon with the gentoo colony observing them and learning about their lives. Some of us witnessed the harsh reality of nature when two skuas stole a gentoo chick and killed it, leaving the gentoo parents grieving on their nest. As we left the colony and walked back along the marked path to the beach, one chinstrap penguin showed up. It was to everybody’s delight after having only met gentoos until now. At the pebbled beach a brave bunch of polar explorers stripped down and jumped in the water to experi-ence the cold reality of a polar plunge. Once redressed and after a shower back on the ship, everyone was happy to attend the barbeque on the helideck, excellently organized and carried out by Sigi, Melanie, Chef Heinz and the rest of the hardworking hotel team. It was the perfect closure of this exciting and adven-tures day! For the Antarctic campers, the adventures were just about to start just after the BBQ as Rustyn and Joselyn took them to a secluded special spot… Diving: Whaling in Antarctica used to be a massive industry with many large whale catching and whale processing ships. Today there isn’t much sign of the whaling era other than one or two locations including Foyn Har-bour where a cargo/ whaler ship sank with the bow sitting proud of the surface. It is a great wreck to dive both for the life that grows on the port side of the ship, protected from icebergs, as well as the wreck itself where you can still identify many of its features. We dropped our divers in two groups to reduce the num-ber swimming around a single spot and most of them thought it was a great dive. In the afternoon Ortelius repositioned to Cuverville Island where we went in search of an iceberg to dive! We found a really nice one in what looked like very clear water so we dropped most of the divers in, ex-cept one zodiac group who wanted a dive away from icebergs so they were taken to a small wall on Cuver-ville Island for a dive to look for marine life. Most divers wanted to go ashore so we dropped them off and took any divers wishing to go for a drive to look for wildlife. We got very lucky and saw a leopard seal eat-ing a seal! Kayak: Great morning exploring the ship Guvernouren. The water was amazingly clear so we could see a lot of the hull underwater right from our kayaks. We ended up with some whale watching from the zodiac, having a great meeting with the humpbacks. During the afternoon at Cuverville Island the group made our way all around the island. The top encounter of the day was the huge leopard seal we found on the back-side of Cuverville. Camping: We arrived at our camp on Kerr Point at 20.30pm with Weddell seals resting on the snowy shore near our camp. The camping team spread out and started digging out blocks of snow to build our wind walls for the night. The Ortelius sailed out of sight and left our team behind in blessed silence. Incredibly there was no wind and the water in the bay reflected the mountains and glaciers around us like a mirror. Our team worked together to dig out our sleeping holes and wind walls and soon we were all in our sleeping bags ready for the night, listening to the sounds of blowing, breathing whales from all sides of the bay in front of us. At 05.00am everyone woke to the sounds of loud, continuous whale blows—right near shore! Without a word, and everyone still in their sleeping bags, people sat up and watched as multiple whales surfaced and dove just 20m off shore of our site – a show of tails that seemed never ending. It was an incredible start to a new day in Antarctica!

Day 7: Orne Island / Useful Island

Orne Island / Useful Island
Date: 12.02.2019
Position: 64°39.7‘S, 062°38.7‘W
Wind: Light air
Weather: Snow
Air Temperature: +3

An amazing day started off straight away this morning. Anyone awake when the campers came onboard appreciated a hot chocolate to start the morning, then started to get ready for the morning’s excursion. At 9 o’clock everybody is ready and equipped for the landing at Orne Island. We experienced snowy weather, big beautiful clumps of snow crystals, with the backdrop of a calm sea. Our expert drivers managed to navigate the zodiacs through some brash ice, to finally land on the rocky shore of Orne Island. Lots of fur seals were sleeping on the beach, or taking a bath few meters away. The highlight was to approach a col-ony of chinstrap penguins (a new species for most!), with the black and white head. Some of the chinstrap pairs had chicks, quite well grown and downy, fuzzy grey. We also encountered many gentoo penguins, protecting their babies from some Antarctic skuas flying around looking for an easy meal. This site used to have a large colony entirely of chinstraps but it seems that it is being taken over by the adaptable and loveably gentoo since we were not able to see very many chinstrap in one place. After a nice great time ashore, we are back to the Ortelius, and surprises continue on the way! Captain Mika gave us a great chance to see orcas (Type B, with their white patches showing more yellow/brown due to the coating of diatoms on their skin from the phytoplankton-rich waters). As the Captain maneu-vered to allow us to appreciate the show of this group of orcas, they were soon joined by humpback whales, a fur seal, and eventually a huge flock of Wilson’s Storm Petrels feeding alongside the young orca on smaller prey than the adults. A gentoo penguin even got mixed up in the bunch, which gave the orca a bit of sport for a minute before it raced away to safety. What a spectacular show! In the afternoon, we started a wonderful cruise in zodiacs off the coast of Useful Island, between glaciers on the perfect sea like mirror. We approached Useful Island to observe fur seals, but also were lucky to glimpse a leopard seal hauled out and sleeping on a block of ice. Just a few meters away, we then saw a small group of elephant seals, really massive laying on the rocks. We continued the cruise around the small outer island, and got the chance to see another colony of chinstrap penguins plus some gentoo as well. Some of them were porpoising and swimming close to the zodiacs giving folks a great view of how these gorgeous animals move so gracefully when in the water. We also approached some icebergs, won-derful pieces of ice with stunning blue colors. We finished the day and came back on board in time to get together for our daily recap, hearing Meike chat about penguins and why they are so well adapted to their environment. Diving: Our locations for today hadn’t been dived by anyone in the team so it was a real adventure. In the morn-ing we dropped zodiacs, picked up all the dive team, and set off to explore the islands. We found several fur seals and so several divers went for a quick snorkel with them, where the seals approached relatively closely. We then moved onto a relatively small iceberg where we dropped divers onto it so they could swim around and down the sides to the seabed, and continuing the dive away from the ice and looking for marine life. For our second dive we went to Useful Island and did a short zodiac cruise before the divers decided they wanted to get in quickly so we dropped them onto a small iceberg again so they could dive the iceberg then swim off along the seabed to look for animals. Kayak: Beautiful morning around Orne Island. Flat calm sea with lot of wildlife activity. Both outings took us around beautiful icebergs and islands full of fur seals and penguins. From our kayaks we could see both chinstrap and gentoo penguins entering the water. In the afternoon we had a great last kayak among huge icebergs and finished up our experience with a BIG leopard seal and two even bigger elephant seals.

Day 8: Pendulum Cove, Deception Island

Pendulum Cove, Deception Island
Date: 13.02.2019
Position: 62°57.8‘S, 060°37.4‘W
Wind: W Bft 5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +4

Thanks to the dynamic nature of this expedition trip we were able to fit in a special visit to Deception Is-land where we were able to cruise with the ship inside an active volcano! The entrance through Neptune’s Bellows was a dramatic passage with only tens of meters on either side of the ship for clearance. Immedi-ately we could see how different this landscape is, with black and red and tan volcanic rocks covering most of the coast instead of the clean white glaciated slopes and peaks we were used to seeing along the continent proper. The next sight we encountered was a steaming beach next to our landing site—a small re-minder that we are inside a volcanic crater that is still active today. This was a more anthropological land-ing at Pendulum Cove, where we saw the remains of buildings destroyed by the last volcanic eruptions in the late 1960s. Walking up to the site of the ruined Chilean base, Daniel and Joselyn were helping every-one be aware of the fragile mosses and other vegetation that are starting to grow again after everything was killed in the last eruption… it was amazing to look down and realize so many green things were surviv-ing in this hostile area of volcanic rocks and high winds. Once back to the ship the Captain took us on a small cruise into Whalers’ Bay where we were able to see from a distance this iconic place where a large whaling station used to operate, imagining what it would look like with the bay covered in whale carcasses during the processing season, and then with 20 whaling ships anchored over the winter waiting to begin the next harvesting season once the weather turned warmer and the whales returned from their mating grounds further north. We could also see the large airplane hanger, reminding us that this was the place where the first flight over Antarctica was made. As the Captain piloted us safely through the Bellows again he set course close by the outer slopes of Decep-tion so that we could pass by the infamous Bailey Head to see the massive colony of chinstrap penguins that occurs there. The shoreline was littered with fur seals and what appeared to be small blocks of ice… but on a closer look it was actually two white-morphs of southern giant petrels. As the ship turned away from the impressive amphitheatre of penguin bodies, we realized that all good things eventually have come to an end, so we began the long trip back to Ushuaia. Diving: Deception Island! There was a lot of interest initially with most of the divers interested in diving. Then someone noticed the water was very murky so one by one the divers dropped out… until there were none! The dive guides went out to scout potential dive sites for next time and dropped in to find several small fish and amphipods but a very dark and murky dive which wouldn’t be recommended to any but the most en-thusiastic diver!

Day 9: At Sea

At Sea
Date: 14.02.2019
Wind: W Bft 9
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

We woke well within the Drake Passage, which compared to our journey South seemed at this point a lot friendlier to us this time around. There was some motion in the ocean but by now we had our sea legs and seemed well prepared for whatever the Drake decided to throw at us. After a leisurely wakeup call and a wholesome breakfast, we were given our first lecture of the day by Assistant Expedition Leader Martin. Titled ‘Seabirds – masters of the sea and sky’ this lecture provided a fascinating insight to the evolutionary adaptations that seabirds have to not only survive throughout the formidable Southern Ocean but through-out all of the world’s oceans. As we continued with our relaxing day at sea we were given another lecture titled ‘The impact of invasive species on islands – An overview of the Sub- Antarctic Islands’ by expedition trainee Helene. This lecture summarised her time on the Sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Islands and reminded us all of the bio-security measures that are required when visiting environmentally sensitive areas such as the pristine Antarctic Peninsula. A follow-up presentation was also provided by expedition guide Joselyn who described the day to day life of working for the US Antarctic program at McMurdo and South Pole stations. This photo and fact-filled presentation provided an insight to what it like to actually live and work on the continent of Antarctica and the challenges that can be experienced when being in one of the most inhospitable regions on earth for months at a time. We ended our Valentine’s Day at sea with our daily recap meeting in the lounge where we were given some insight into the weird and wonderful world that is found beneath the surface of the ice of Antarctica. We also watched a short video proving that perhaps penguins can indeed fly after all… The wildlife at sea today was quite quiet, but once we were back into the grips of the Southern Ocean we were again greeted by our albatross and petrel friends that accompanied us on the first two days of our voyage from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Day 10: At Sea

At Sea
Date: 15.02.2019
Position: 57°25.6’S, 064°22.0’W
Wind: W Bft 7
Weather: Clear
Air Temperature: +6

The seas got a bit rougher overnight and the ship felt very quiet for most of the day. Bill gave an interest-ing lecture in the morning about artists who have painted the sea… he helped us to see the ocean from the perspectives of a variety of artists who themselves obviously has very different relationships with the ocean. Indeed our eyes were opened, and perhaps more than one person was inspired to put their own visions of the seas around us down on canvas. The morning presentation was about all there was of note regarding the ocean-side environment. The skies were remarkably absent of birds, for the most part, dur-ing our entire northbound Drake crossing. Somehow the kings and queens of the air must be surfing the air currents in other parts of the Southern Ocean! In the afternoon, we were called to the lecture room on deck 3 to return boots and lifejackets. And almost in the same breath, Sigi called us deck by deck as well to reception to turn over our credit cards and make a final accounting of all the fun had at the bar and souvenir table during the trip. After filling out the comment cards and dropping tip envelopes into the box at reception, everyone finally made their way to the bar to give a toast to the Captain, and of course the ship, the crew, and each other, at the Captain’s Coctail celebration. The final call came inviting everyone to dinner, so we could all enjoy a final experience together, sharing memories of the trip over the excellent fare prepared by Chef Heinz and team.

Day 11: Ushuaia

Date: 16.02.2019

All good things come to an end, as they say. Today was our last morning on Ortelius. After a last night in our cabins, which had really started to feel like home; after all, there is no place like a comfy bed in rough weather. But all good things must come to an end… so that there can be another beginning! To start off the day, we put our suitcases in the corridors ready for the crew to unload. After one final sumptuous breakfast we readied ourselves to leave. However, this morning the weather was not in our favour; strong winds blasted down the valleys around Ushuaia and after we made a few attempts to moor alongside the harbor master closed the port for safety. The winds were part of a deep low pressure just to the south of us in the Drake Passage and although they disrupted our schedule, we were very fortunate to be in a shel-tered harbor and not in the wild, open Southern Ocean. We waited patiently for the wind through the morning, taking in the scenery from the decks, and relaxing with a coffee in the lounge. Finally, around lunchtime, the winds eased and the port reopened. Ortelius carefully came alongside and the gangway was lowered. It was finally time to say farewell; to the ship, its crew, the expedition team, and to all our new friends. Appointments were made to stay in touch and we said ‘see you again’ not ‘goodbye’. We descend-ed the gangway and picked up our luggage from the pier, and set off by bus or foot towards our individual destinies, heading for new adventures. We carry with us a wealth of new memories and will be forever touched by our experiences of the great white continent. Thank you all for such a wonderful voyage, for your company, good humour, and enthusiasm. We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be! Total Distance Sailed: 1775 NM Furthest South: 65°12‘ On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Mika Appel, Expedition Leader Michael Ginzburg, Hotel Manager Sigi Penzenleitner, and all the crew and staff, it has been a pleasure travelling with you.

Have you been on this voyage?