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PLA32-20, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula, Basecamp

by Oceanwide Expeditions

Logbook

Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 09.03.2020
Position: 5°53’S / 067°42’W
Wind: E 4-5
Weather: Clear
Air Temperature: +10

So here we are at last in Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of the world. Well, from Ushuaia we’ll be going south...a long way south. But for today, we ambled about this lovely Patagonian city, savouring the local flavours and enjoying the sights. Ushuaia marks the end of the road in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, but also the beginning – the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

During the summer this rapidly growing frontier town of 55,000 bustles with adventurous travellers. The duty-free port flourishes with tourism but also thrives on a sizeable crab fishery and a burgeoning electronics industry. Ushuaia (literally “bay that penetrates to the west” in the indigenous Yamana / Yagan tongue) clearly benefits from its magnificent, yet remote, setting. The rugged spine of the South American Andes ends here, where two oceans meet. As could be expected from such an exposed setting, the weather has the habit of changing on a whim. However, temperatures during the long days of the austral summer are relatively mild, providing a final blanket of warmth before heading off on our adventures.

For many of us this is the start of a lifelong dream. The excitement comes in different forms for each person, but even the most experienced of us must feel genuine excitement departing on a journey to the Great White Continent. Accordingly, most passengers arrived promptly at the port, ready to board the good ship MV Plancius, our home for this Antarctic adventure!

We were greeted at the gangway by members of our Expedition Team and our ship’s doctor Nelleke where everyone’s health survey was reviewed and temperatures screened in order to keep all passengers and crew secure regarding the Coronavirus risk. After clearing the screening, we proceeded up the gangway where we met Hotel and Restaurant Managers, Alex and Dragan, and to be directed to our cabins with the assistance of the fabulous hotel crew. Once everyone had been approved for boarding, we all gathered in the lounge on deck five to begin our safety briefing. First was a video, entertaining but also clearly showing us what was important to pay attention to on the ship for our safety. Then we met our First Officer Miia, who with the crew and staff led us through the details of the required SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) Safety and Lifeboat Drill, including trying on our huge orange life jackets and walking to the lifeboat stations to become familiar with their locations.

We then had some time to adjust to our cabins, explore the ship, and take in the striking scenery of Ushuaia’s mountainous backdrop before reconvening for our next briefing with Alex our Hotel Manager to learn more about our floating hotel/home for the next 11 days, and how life onboard will operate. This was followed by a few words from our Expedition Leader, Iain Rudkin, and the rest of the Expedition Team who will guide us in Antarctica. Finally, Iain introduced our Captain Artur Iakovlev who after some wise words of welcome, proposed a toast to our voyage.

Our first dinner onboard was a chance to chat with other guests and be impressed by what Chef Khabir welcomed us into the dining room to celebrate the first day at the famous Drake Passage.

Day 2: At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage

At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage
Date: 10.03.2020
Position: 56°49.1’S / 065°30.2’W
Wind: W 3
Weather: Slight Overcast
Air Temperature: +7

A quiet morning in a place where many legends talk about strong winds and big swell. Grey light, a shy sun painting the immensity of this vast ocean, giving us the sense of life that we‘ve been looking for. We are in search of this dream-- this day, and it is finally becoming real.

We start to familiarize our bodies with the never-ending tango between the ship and the waves, a strange love shared since forever. This stretch of ocean, called by the sailors the furious fifties, the deadly forties of the Southern Ocean’, is quite nice for us on our way to white continent, a true Drake-lake.

During the morning the activity guides gave the Basecamp Activity Briefing, explaining all about Mountaineering, Kayaking and Camping and how their activities would work for the voyage, meanwhile everyone on the ship continued to adjust to life on a moving platform. Many things happening around, many questions to answer, everybody is excited!

After lunch we could register for the activities in the lounge. After the registration sessions were finished, Rustyn gave an entertaining lecture about the Antarctic Treaty, and urged us all to become Antarctic Ambassadors.

At the end of the afternoon we had our Recap, our daily moment to review what we have seen and done during the day and to hear about plans for tomorrow. Dorette talked about her role as photography guide and showed a mini video-clip she made covering the embarkation process. Rustyn talked about sea-sickness just before we went to diner on a luckily very easy-going Drake Passage.

Day 3: At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage

At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage
Date: 11.03.2020
Position: 60°01.9’S / 063°37.6’W
Wind: NNW 1
Weather: clear sky
Air Temperature: +2

A nice morning, first real sensations after a full day on this sea. The Drake has been merciful with us, we woke up again in a true Drake lake.

This morning Iain offered us the Mandatory IAATO Briefing and another Safety Briefing about Zodiac boarding, how to get into them, the ‘Three steps’ that the expedition guides will ask us to do every time we board the boats at the gangway to start any landing or zodiac cruise. It seems easy but it will be surprising how often we can forget the process… but they will remind us as many times as is necessary. It’s all about safety!

After that we started with one of the most important things before arriving to Antarctica: The vacuuming of all our outerwear, backpacks and any other kind of equipment that we will introduce to this area. The reason? PREVENTION of introducing exotic species into this pristine environment.

While crossing into the Antarctic convergence and upon approaching the South Shetland islands, more and more wildlife could be seen from the ship. We spotted Fin-whales, Hourglass Dolphins and some long-finned Pilotwhales, and even an Arctic tern was spotted.

In the late afternoon Dorette introduced her photography workshop to us. Followed by the daily recap of Iain. After dinner, Celine gave an entertaining lecture about the most commonly known inhabitants of Antarctica, the penguins.

Day 4: Orne Harbour/Danco Island

Orne Harbour/Danco Island
Date: 12.03.2020
Position: 64°37.9’S / 063° 32.3’W
Wind: E3
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: 0

Our first day in Antarctica starts early. We get a morning call by Iain already at 6:30 a.m. We get dressed and head out to see our first destination and the scenery is lovely. We approach a small bay surrounded by icebergs and steep mountains. The bay is called Orne Harbour. Many bays around the peninsula are called harbour as they gave shelter for former whaling ships. Right after breakfast we start the day with our first Zodiac cruise.

The weather conditions are a bit fresh -1 degree and 13-15 knots of wind. Well this is what we can expect. We head out and see lovely chinstrap penguins and Antarctic shags on the rocks of the cliffs. Above the cliff we see already the mountaineering group ascending the mountain on the edge of the bay. The penguins look at us curious, some hop in the water and head off, some are moulting around the rocks to get their waterproof feathers for the winter. We explore further and find out that the whole area is full of humpback whales. These wonderful gentle giants are all around in little groups. We say hello, some little groups mostly the groups consist of 2 individuals, are sleeping but some are quite active and check us out. Some passing the Zodiac really close or some even spy hopping and check us above the water surface. What an incredible moment to see and hear these lovely animals breathing so close to us. Some of us even felt the breath and the water during their blows on their skin. We are speechless, what could we wished more for. 2 hours later we are still speechless and frozen! We slowly head back to the ship and get new strength with a good lunch buffet back on our temporary home Plancius.

For the afternoon destination we are heading around the corner and cruise into the Errera channel. A beautiful channel on the peninsula. We visit Danco Island that is situated in the middle of the channel. The sun comes out, the wind disappears and the scenery is lovely calm and perfect. The channel, again, is covered by beautiful glaciers all around the mountains. We head out to our first landing. We head on the zodiacs and the expedition teams drops us around the corner. We get the chance to walk up the dominant hill on the island. Along the hill we pass plenty of little gentoos rookeries. The little chicks are already left alone during the day by their parents. The parents go to sea and come back for feeding the chicks. What happens when you leave teenagers alone at home. They are just everywhere, they are bored, and they just checking out the bypassing tourists. The little teenager penguins have no clue about the 5m rule and approach us gentle, curious and in an unbelievable cute manner. We enjoy these new friendships and take a rest, sit down and inhale this fantastic landscape that the hill climb has to offer us. The view is spectacular and we are impressed by this unique landscape. We get more than 3 hours time to enjoy and right when our free time on land finished the sun is settling behind some clouds. Maybe just to make leaving this island a bit easier.

We meet the team again for our daily recap, but it is hard to follow their interesting talks about the color of ice and humpback whales. The scenery passing through the icebergs of the Errera channel towards the evening camping destination is again incredible. Another hundreds pictures are taken. What a day so far!

Unfortunately our outdoor adventures ended for this day. The camping was cancelled as penguins took over the camping area. Well anyhow it would have not been the dream night full of stars anyway. Many unlucky campers showed up at the bar, so I guess the evening was nice anyway.

Day 5: Port Lockroy, Jougla Point/Damoy Point

Port Lockroy, Jougla Point/Damoy Point
Date: 13.03.2020
Position: 64°49.6’S / 063° 31.0’W
Wind: NW4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 0

This morning, in Iain's voice when he wakes us up we feel a new excitement. We're about to land at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island...
This is a historic site, born out of Operation Tabarin in 1945... British base "A" was an important research station in meteorology. It is now a charming little museum very informative and one of the few Post Office on the Peninsula.

This station, overrun with gentoo penguins and snowy sheethbills, is only occupied during the 4 summer months and this year's team has just left the site. However, we are allowed to leave postcards with the money for the stamps. They will not be processed until next November and will therefore arrive in about a year's time!

Due to landing restrictions, we are divided into two groups. While the first ones visit the museum, the others take a small zodiac cruise, an opportunity to land at Jougla, where we can observe whale bones. Divers have reconstructed a skeleton with the bones of different species. One of the highlights is to see a live scene of the harsh wildlife, a leopard seal catching a penguin and devouring it.

After our succulent lunch on board, it is time to go on another excursion. We don't have far to go as our afternoon landing is at Damoy Point in the small, shallow Dorian bay. With the help of Iain and Pippa, we have to walk in the water for a while before starting our exploration. Some go directly to the British Antarctic Survey hut hosted by Tom and Celine. Closed since 1990, it can still be used as a refuge.

The most valiant ones follow Rustyn's footsteps that lead them to the highest gentoo penguins rockery of the place with a beautiful view of the fjord. This excursion has to be suddenly interrupted because the wind increases in strength. The captain reports to our expedition leader that the swell at the gangway is getting deeper and deeper. The return to the boat is particularly wet in the zodiacs.

One more day is coming to an end. We go to bed with fabulous images in our heads.

Day 6: Neko Harbour/Andvord Bay

Neko Harbour/Andvord Bay
Date: 14.03.2020
Position: 64°50.9’S / 062° 32.5’W
Wind: VAR 2
Weather: Rain
Air Temperature: +3

This morning we arrived in Neko Habour, a stunning bay surrounded by towering mountains and a very active glacier. It was a still morning with a little drizzle of rain and low cloud, or as the Scottish would describe it, it was a driech morning! But the bay is filled with interesting icebergs of all shapes and sizes which makes the landscape even more interesting. As the zodiacs dodged the moving ice, everyone was dropped on the shore and were greeted by an inquisitive gentoo colony. Whilst here, we were able to map out a path to the top of a little hill/lookout point and also along the shoreline so we could observe the penguins from all angles! There were plenty of fluffy chicks, trying to lose their down in time for winter, and plenty of chubby chicks chasing around the adults for more food, but ironically were slowed down by their full bellies! Everyone enjoyed the entertaining chicks and juveniles swimming in the shallows, darting around the ice. After a small hike to the top of the hill, we had a great vantage point right across Andvord Bay, where we soon spot three humpback whales, slowly cruising by, just 30 metres off the shoreline. With the occasional rumble from the active glacier, wildlife and mountains, Neko Harbor is a stunning location, even if it is a little driech.

The afternoon’s adventure was a zodiac cruise to explore deeper inside Andvord Bay. The wind had dropped, and the sun was poking through the clouds, creating beautiful light glinting off the water. The cruise got off to a cracking start as the first few zodiacs spotted some sleepy humpbacks and cruising minke whales. It is safe to say, everyone had incredible wildlife interactions today. Throughout the afternoon, we had curious minke whales, playful humpbacks, sleepy crabeater and weddell seals scattered throughout the bay. Andvord Bay is filled with icebergs, from the deepest of blue in colour to tall spires looking like they will topple over at any moment. For the kayakers and few of the zodiacs, the afternoon was particularly special as they were approached by a handful of very active humpback whales, which continued to play, fluke and pec slap around and under the boats. The engines were shut off and everyone was quiet and speechless as they observed the special interaction of curious humpbacks checking out them out.

After a very special day, everyone’s spirits were high and so to top it off, we had a ship BBQ on the back deck! The crew provided a huge spread of delicious BBQ meat, salads and veggies, followed by a table full of deserts and cakes, all washed down by wine and beer for those who wished. The night carried on into the early hours of the morning for some, dancing the night away in the middle of the Antarctic Peninsula!

Day 7: Portal Point/Graham Passage

Portal Point/Graham Passage
Date: 15.03.2020
Position: 64°29.7’S / 61° 43.8’W
Wind: SE 2
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 0

Another Antarctic day starts for us at Portal Point. The view and the mood of the area is moody. We have low clouds, foggy view, glassy water surface and calm winds, typical Antarctic weather. The plan for the morning is a split landing and a zodiac cruise, as well as the regular activities like kayaking and mountaineering. The first passengers get dropped ashore. The scenery is special and everybody is distracted by the unusual mood. Different type of seals hauling out on shore. We see Antarctic Shags flying around and just in front of the landing site we see humpback whales playing in the water.

We take the chance and walk up the small hill to observe the scenery. The greyish weather in combination with the blue of the icebergs, we see around the bays, is incredible and seems unreal. We were so lucky and encountered breaching whales just in front of us in the water. What a spectacle and we are just in the middle of it. During the landing it starts to snow in big beautiful white snowflakes the visibility drops but it has no negative impact on this environment.

The Zodiac cruise get the chance to encounter the whales a bit closer. Various small groups of humpbacks are moving around mainly feeding on krill. Krill is the most abundant wild species of animal on earth and it is the key factor in the Antarctic food chain. The whales are swimming through the swarms of krill. The mouth wide open, catch all the krill and filter the water through there baleens. We got to see the feeding really close and saw their mouth wide open. Incredible, so close. We are privileged and happy to encounter these gentle giants. What a morning. A bit cold and wet, we return to our lovely Plancius and enjoy the lunch.

For the afternoon a real expedition is planned. We should explore the Graham Passage, a narrow gap to pass through. Normally ships can not pass due to the icebergs inside this tight passage. On our arrival the passage looks miserable. 22 knots of wind or even more funneling throughout the passage. Rain and clouds are making is even more miserable. Iain decided to cancel the afternoon landing, as the risk of higher winds with gusts is just to high and to go out just to get wet, does not so much sound like a successful exploration. Well our clothes are not dry anyway, so an afternoon on the ship watching the weather outside does not sound too bad. Pippa is shortening our afternoon with a really interesting lecture about the marine mammals in the southern ocean and right to finish the day, Alex, our hotel manager, is calling for Happy Hour before Recap. Well this afternoon passed over quicker than expected. Our recap with the plans for tomorrow, information about salps and icebergs got distracted by some bypassing whales. We just love Antarctica. It never gets boring even when we need to stay on the ship.

Day 8: Cierva Cove/Mikkelsen Harbour

Cierva Cove/Mikkelsen Harbour
Date: 16.03.2020
Position: 64°08.2’S / 60° 57.0’W
Wind: S 2
Weather: rain
Air Temperature: +2

We wake to a rough sea and a slight roll, as the wind howls down the Gerlache Strait. Luckily for us we sail into the shelter of Cierva cove, and although still a little windy, we are able to begin our zodiac cruise. We set off in relatively calm conditions, through brash ice and towering icebergs. To the South we can see Primavera Station, an Argentinian scientific base; the orange buildings standing out from the otherwise rugged landscape. Amongst the ice we find Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins swimming and feeding, occasionally porpoising through the swell. The swell that rolls in from the strait causes the icebergs to sway, and some even to roll.

A curious Minke whale circles some of our zodiacs; a fantastic sight from the smallest baleen whale in Antarctica; usually a solitary, reserved species, but sometimes it seems curiosity gets the better of them. The incredible wildlife encounters continue, with a Leopard seal, which swims around the zodiacs, and curiously eyes us up; these apex predators are known for their aggression, but this one maintains a curios composure.
As the wind increases, we head back to Plancius, in time for another delicious lunch prepared by the fantastic galley team.

Over lunch we relocate North to Mikkelsen Harbour, South of Trinity Island; here we will land at D’Hainaut Island; a small island with Gentoo Penguins, whaling remains and an Argentinian refuge hut. The island is very muddy at this time of the year, with most of the snow and ice melted away; leaving small rivers and a lot of penguin guano! Amongst the rocks and guano, we find many chicks almost ready to fledge to the sea, as well as some Giant Petrels feasting on a perished penguin. The rain poured as we walked amongst this rather morbid scene; showcasing the darker aspect of the nature here perhaps.

On the shore we discover the remains of a whaling boat, as well as many whale bones, scattered along the beach. Many Penguins rest on or amongst these remains; a novel sight.
On the beach a Fur seal rests, occasionally rising to scratch and stretch – much to our delight.

After rinsing our very muddy boots we head back in the zodiacs to Plancius, where we begin to sail North, leaving the Antarctic peninsula behind and head for the South Shetland Islands.

Day 9: Whalers Bay, Deception Island/ Yankee Harbour

Whalers Bay, Deception Island/ Yankee Harbour
Date: 17.03.2020
Position: 62°59.1’S / 60° 33.6’W
Wind: VAR 4
Weather: snow
Air Temperature: +1

During the night we had sailed up the Gerlache Strait and across the Bransfield Strait towards the South Shetland Islands where we were planning to spend our last Antarctic day. At 07:00 Iain woke us all up as Plancius was approaching Deception Island, thereafter passing through the infamous ‘Neptune’s Bellows’. The whole of Deception Island is classed as an active volcano and the entrance was where the rim of the volcano collapsed and allowed the water to flood in creating Port Foster.

Our landing at Deception Island (Telefon Bay) was a completely different sight than we had previously seen this trip. The beach was black volcanic rock, which contrasted beautifully against the white snow. Many Fur seals were lounging and wrestling around the beach in all directions from our landing.

We explored the abandoned buildings and walked up to Neptures windows overlooking the open ocean on the outside of the volcanos crater. Our landing was short as we were racing a storm, but the combination of fog, sun, white snow and black beaches made for no less than a mystical morning.

After lunch and a small break we set out again for Yankee Harbour. As we arrived to our landing, a large Weddel Seal lay only meters from our zodiacs. If that wasn’t enough a Fur Seal and a Crabbier Seal both lay scattered across our path. We walked the long, narrow spit of land that was so unique to Yankee Harbour. Again our landing was short as the Captain was warning us of an approaching storm, but the weather was beautiful and the long walk was exactly what everyone needed.

Back on the ship, and back in warm dry cloths we enjoyed recap and heard stories from staff. We set off into the Drake… not knowing what to expect.

Day 10: At Sea to Ushuaia

At Sea to Ushuaia
Date: 18.03.2020
Position: 60°18,4’S / 61° 25.0’W
Wind: NW8
Weather: Rain
Air Temperature: +4

If one gets treated to a Drake lake on a trip, the Captain’s wisdom always dictates that we will have to pay for this someday, and today this day had come. Speeding up trying to be at the Cape in front of Hurricane force winds we ploughed through swell of 6 meters high. Good old Plancius bounced up and down and swinged sideways. Every now and then a big wave would hit the ship and it sounded as if a large sledgehammer was banged against her side. In the morning both Pippa and Rustyn managed to give lectures, respectively about Antarctic Whaling and Gear Evolution. During lunch the sea was so rough we were served a small lunch in our cabins. In the afternoon everybody was so busy trying to hold on to the ship or not becoming sea-sick the lecture program was postponed.

Day 11: At Sea to Buenos Aires

At Sea to Buenos Aires
Date: 19.03.2020
Position: 56°58,1’S / 27,9° 27,9’W
Wind: W8
Weather: Rain
Air Temperature: +8

Still rough seas in the morning but it was already a bitt less than the day before. Tom was giving his lecture about Geology and the opening of the Drake Passage and its implications on the development of ice-caps on Antarctica. Its hard to imagine that this ice-covered world was once covered with lush green forests, geologically speaking not even so long ago. After lunch the lecture program continued with Celine explaining us how to track sea birds and marine mammals and how in return they can track us ! After this very interesting lecture we got briefed that we set sail to Buenos Aires instead of Ushuaia because of a shutdown of all domestic flights in Argentina. This news brought by Iain was met with a round of applause, with was sort off a surprise to the staff. Passengers immediately started to volunteer to help out to fill the extra days at sea with entertainment. Rustyn was promoted from camping guide to cruise director/entertainment manager and started to consult with passengers who wanted to help out with the entertainment in the next days. In the evening we held a pub-quiz in which our knowledge of Antarctica was tested, with a full lounge and fanatic teams it was a close call who eventually won.

Day 12: At Sea to Buenos Aires

At Sea to Buenos Aires
Date: 20.03.2020
Position: 53°29,1’S / 64° 39,7’W
Wind: NW9
Weather: Partly clouded
Air Temperature: +9

So today starts the first day of our second part of the trip heading north towards Buenos Aires. In the morning we get called for a short meeting by Iain. The newest Corona update is that Buenos Aires is locked down until the 31st of March 2020 - more news that probably changes after just a few hours. We will stay positive and wait to see what happens. We will reach Buenos Aires in approximately 5 to 6 days sailing and so we will watch out for more news.
After this news, Steffi gave a lecture about adaption of plant and animals to the polar regions. So now we know finally why penguins do not need socks.

After our well-deserved lunch we got the chance to listen to the adventures of Iain. He spent 3 winters on an Antarctic base in the southerly part of the peninsula. We listened to his stories curious and enjoyed the small anecdotes of a life that is probably hard to understand for an outsider. We know now for sure it is more fun than it sounds.

Directly after this informative lecture we got to see another historic movie documentation about a sailing ship passing Cape Horn. We stayed silent with our experiences of the drake, as this was absolutely way more adventures what we experienced. Not everybody needs to be the toughest one.

During the afternoon the sea state was getting significantly calm, so we could use the opportunity to get some fresh air and it already smells different than in Antarctica. The water and the air temperature are significantly rising.
We enjoy another great dinner by our Indian Chef and meet up later for the memories of our travels so far. The Expedition Team is presenting a slide show with plenty of pictures they collected during the trip in Antarctica. What a fabulous reminder and what great moments we all share.

The slide show was followed by a quiz “Do you know your guide?” Our guides were telling us stories out of their lives and we have to say true or false. Well, some interesting things came up.

Day 13: At Sea to Montevideo

At Sea to Montevideo
Date: 21.03.2020
Position: 49°28,4’S / 62° 04,7’W
Wind: S2
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +11

Today was the start of our second day sailing towards Buenos Aires … or so we thought. As the news came in overnight, after everyone had their breakfast, another meeting was called by Iain to inform everyone that our new destination is … **drum roll** … Montevideo, Uruguay! The office informed us that Buenos Aires has closed its port and we were no longer allowed to disembark there, so we are currently on track to arrive there in 4-5 days, luckily it is next door to Buenos Aires!

This morning was action packed! It kicked off with an IT Support workshop run by Mal so everyone could use the internet responsibly and so we could all continue to use the free wifi to remain in contact with our friends and family! Next, was a bird ID workshop run by Celine on the deck outside. There have been many kinds of petrels and albatross flying around the ship for a few days so this was very useful workshop. But shortly after this, we had arranged to meet up with our sister ship Ortelius, who is on the same path as us to Montevideo, to collect some medical supplies and a few extra fresh fruit and veggies! As Pippa, Steffi and Alex set off in a zodiac, there were cheers and Mexican waves from all the decks! Great excitement! We could also see all the passengers on board Ortelius doing the same thing when the zodiac drew closer to them. After matching the ship’s speed, the goodies were skillful lowered into the zodiac and then just like that, Ortelius was on her way again!

After yet another delicious lunch, the afternoon started with a lecture from Felicity talking about the modern-day threats that marine life faces today – ship strikes, entanglements and overfishing. Shortly after, there was an organized fire/abandon ship drill. Miia, the chief officer, had organized some “difficult” passengers to test the staff and crew’s abilities but thankfully, all went well and she was happy with everyone’s performance/response!

Recap tonight was also very entertaining, with Tom giving a talk on Plancius, and the Dutch independence war with Spain and how we could all relate to being stuck on a Dutch ship not allowed to enter Spanish harbors…! Luckily, everyone found it hilarious! After dinner, our first movie night was set up in the dining room where popcorn and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was waiting for anyone who wished.

Day 14: At Sea to Montevideo

At Sea to Montevideo
Date: 22.03.2020
Position: 45°35,6’S / 60° 13,9’W
Wind: WNW 5
Weather: Partly clouded
Air Temperature: +15

The sea on our way north welcomes us with calm seas and warmer temperature in the morning. The air feels and smells different. During the morning we get a new update. Well nothing new, just that it seems that the embassies are working on solutions. At least something where we can hope that it will turn out successfully. All our passports were scanned to the authorities in Uruguay. Let’s see what happens in 2 days, but it looks like we will need to get directly from the ship to the airport and into the plane. Well that is fine with us, Uruguay was not really planned on our agenda anyway.

During the morning our murder game started and there was big energy vibe going on, well half of the participants were dead within a few hours. I would say we can be considered to be effective.

In the morning Mal was presenting a lecture about climate change which ended in a nice, open discussion about opportunities or chances. Different people got to share some of their information and different opinions were appreciated.
For lunch the hotel crew prepared a BBQ on the back deck inclusive a theme: Pirates on board of Plancius. Nobody was prepared for a costume party but people got creative, so we saw a big variety of new pirate features. Door opener developed to swords, hairdryer turned into parrots, different photographic hardware ended up being used as an eyepatch and some passenger “lost” arms and legs.

Rustyn organized a small walk of fame for our newborn pirates and the 10 best costumes were prized with a free shot of cheap rum and a huge portion of honor and respect for the playful mind they had. Some dancing was observed after the BBQ and we just enjoyed to be out on this beautiful ocean feeling free in this changing world. In the afternoon we watched a movie about a sea kayaking adventure of Adam he did in 2014, with a fabulous footage abouts hope, dreams and personal achievements. Interesting stories and people we have on our ship.

For the re-cap we got weather updates, Rustyn updated us with the latest news of the entertainment department, Juraj shared with us his Antarctic memories. He cut a 5 min video and Dave was sharing his experiences how to train Search and Rescue dogs.

Before we move towards dinner, we enjoy quick a beautiful sunset with dolphins in the water.
BUT the best comes: we continue our “Argentinian BASE Camp” and we head out for camping on deck 7. Well better late than never. 35 people got the chance to sleep under the stars of the Atlantic Ocean, the others went to their cosy beds.

Day 15: At Sea to Montevideo

At Sea to Montevideo
Date: 23.03.2020
Position: 40°55,0’S / 57° 29,5’W
Wind: NW 5
Weather: Clear sky
Air Temperature: +17

A beautiful morning to wake up to – not a cloud in the sky, calm seas and warm air. The morning kicked off with a really interesting lecture by Pippa on ‘Ocean Sound – Acoustics in the Southern Ocean’. Everyone present, was able to listen to snippets of all the Antarctic marine mammals, some slightly adjusted to our hearing range – amazing! However, this was the final staff lecture and then began the passenger lecture take over! I began with a talk by Don on gender differences in communication which was quite amusing. There was then some time to enjoy the sunshine out on the decks, watching albatross and petrels glide gracefully alongside the ship.

After lunch, the next passenger lecture was given by Nick on his newly created subject ‘Snowology’ …this was an interesting overview of very technical terms such as “biggies” (big snowflakes) and smallies (small snowflakes), and then carried on to discuss some of the threats to snow, for example, snow cones and snowball fights. And finally, after the very entertaining lecture about Snowology, we were given a talk by Dave, a meteorologist, about the weather systems during our trip in the Antarctic Peninsula and how the polar weather systems are changing due to global warming.

Meanwhile, the final stage of the murder game began, with new twists and added challenges, let’s see how long he final few stay alive! The evening’s recap included a recap on Poo-nami’s (the importance of whale poo in carbon capture) by Felicity, followed by a 15min film created by James.

After dinner, drinks and music were enjoyed in the bar whilst the staff worked through the passenger list to collect and send of potential flights to get everyone home, safe and sound. Finger’s crossed all goes to plan!

Day 16: At Sea to Montevideo

At Sea to Montevideo
Date: 24.03.2020
Position: 36°41,5’S / 55° 10,8’W
Wind: NNE 5
Weather: Clear sky
Air Temperature: +23

After again a nice breakfast, the theme of this day again was lectures by guests. The first lecture was given by Maria about TMJ disorders followed by a presentation of Maggie about couples communication, which came in handy for some of the staff who still had to communicate their partners they were going to sail back with Plancius to Vlissingen. After these informative lectures they Plancius’ scavenging hunt took place. The hunters in couples had to roam around Plancius is search for pieces of information answering questions and carrying out little tasks e.g. taking a funny picture with one of the staff members (which I guess was not one of the most difficult tasks).

Day 17 – 25th to 27th March 2020: Disembarkation Montevideo

Disembarkation Montevideo
Date: 25.03.2020

After arriving in the port of Montevideo, three days of disembarkations followed. All of us could feel the tension, is it going to work…? To be allowed to disembark we all needed a valid airline ticket out of Montevideo. This was quite a challenge as flights got cancelled or changed by the minute. Expedition staff worked hard to check flight statuses and provide the necessary paperwork requested by the Uruguayan officials. Passengers were continuously checking their booking and rebooked where needed, this could be quite frustrating as the ships internet through satellite is not really equipped for such a massive data stream. Anyways, although the emotions and tensions were visible, everybody kept the spirits high resulting in several sessions of orderly disembarkations. Because our Antarctica expedition became an extraordinary one, saying goodbye to new friends made was not always easy, but eventually everybody managed to get home safely. We are very grateful for the Uruguayan authorities for making our safe travel home possible.

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 3047 Nautical Miles

Furthest South: 64°84’S / 62°52’W
Furthest North: 34°89’S / 56°19’W

On behalf of everyone on board we thank you for travelling with us and wish you a safe journey home.

Details

Tripcode: PLA32-20
Dates: 9 Mar - 20 Mar, 2020
Duration: 11 nights
Ship: m/v Plancius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

Trip log video

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Aboard m/v Plancius

The ice-strengthened vessel Plancius is an ideal vessel for polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic.

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