It has been seven days since we embarked from Punta Arenas, Chile. I can't believe all that has happened
It has been seven days since we embarked from Punta Arenas, Chile. I can't believe all that has happened and all that I have learned in seven days. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I can believe all that has happened and all that I have learned as this is my reality. So I guess what I can't believe is that this is my reality at the moment....this is slightly cryptic, I know, but how many people can say, "I'm in Antarctica"?!?!
As of this morning, we have successfully sailed through the Drake Passage. Honestly I was prepared for worse conditions than what we experienced. I feel like we were pretty fortunate on the first couple of days; however, a certain someone in the deckhouse last night said "hey...we made it through the Drake Passage"....uh oh....not so fast. So..... that particular statement or the fact that I was whistling onboard yesterday (who knew that was bad luck?!?!?!....it wasn't in the ship manual!!!) things last evening looked like this....
Team Red Watch (GOOOOO TEAM....and some more high fives. Honestly, it's not just me...) took to the decks with big smiles on our faces at 20:00. It was the first time the skies had cleared all day....moon was rising, seabirds were flying, wind was calm. So, I was thinking to myself....geez we're lucky. Not only do we not have the dog watch, but also we have the weather on our side. After a day of snow, sleet and at times hail (or snhaian - snow/hail/rain combo) we were in our glory. But hmmmmmm.....why is Captain Harko having crew furl sails and looking so serious? Apparently something in the mix us newbies didn't quite comprehend at first. From sunny, clear skies to a slightly messy squall with winds up to 45 knots within the space of an hour. Weather is so dramatic, unpredictable and thrilling. Needless to say, voyage crew Red Watch (yup, that's capitalized) were relieved of our lookout and helping duties as the swells began to break onto the ship. And here we pause for another shout out to our superhero permanent crew, who took over lookout duty with their capes and superpowers (ok, so they may have been harnesses, waterproof gear, and a Superman coffee mug, but still this crew amaze me, and sometimes intimidate me with their knowledge and ability every day).
After all the weather drama, and pitching and rolling in our bunks last night, we arrived in the South Shetland islands this morning with enormous icebergs to greet us. Many of us are so excited to be at anchor in calm seas and to not have to compensate for ship movement during soup eating, drinking, walking, sleeping, dressing...you get the idea...
Oh, and you'll never guess....there were a couple of penguins to greet us too - several thousand in fact. I met Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins today when we made our landing on shore. I experienced another "is this really happening?" moment as these little guys wandered around the island and walked up close to us with no fear. They are such clumsy little fellows on shore, yet so graceful and speedy under water.
The guests and crew of the Europa ring in December 2014 with a landing in Antarctica, meeting penguins, and experiencing the sun setting after 23:00 over Antarctic cliffs and icebergs...how cool is that?