group mail play plus user camera comment close arrow-down facebook twitter instagram

Paradise and Neko

Scraping and shoving we fight a deck caked in snow, trying to keep our footing as we prepare to launch zodiacs for the morning’s cruise. While we instinctively regret the grey weather, the two humpbacks who have joined us are blissfully unphased by the drizzle. Over the radio we are welcomed into Paradise Harbour by the Argentinians at Brown Station, whose handful of huts sit timidly at the water’s edge, a steep black slope looming above them. We begin cruising in the zodiacs, blue-eyed shags glancing warily back at us from the rocky shores as we ogle at the towering formations. By a neat fracture high above, a bright blue streak of malachite strikes a break in the grayscale landscape. Gliding into Skontorp Cove, from below bubble up ‘shooters’, chunks of ice breaking free from the glacier below the water’s surface. The familiar rumble of glacial carvings turns heads, and occasionally we catch a glimpse of the ice smashing into the ocean. In Antarctica, the land itself is alive.

“Ok yard tackle, haul away!”. The boats are hoisted back on board and its back to weaving between the icebergs as we pick our way out of Paradise Harbour. Stronger the Antarctic wind blows, but the whales and penguins all around are yet to read the forecast, milling about joyously below pointed wavetops. As if proving its indifference to the weather, a nearby humpback hurls itself out of the water in a fantastic display of power before crashing through the waves again.

At Neko Harbour we are deafened by wind and hail, the gusts reaching 45 knots across the deck. With thick ice lining the bay it becomes apparent that landing here will not be possible. We have had our fair share of beautiful weather these last few days but it is not to be trusted – today Antarctica warns us of its untamed power. And so we continue north, passing between Anvers and Brabant Islands as the Gerlache Strait widens into the open ocean. The sun goes down, the swell goes up. Voyage crew take a long night of sleep ahead of the watch schedule resuming, and deck crew spend the night lashing down anything that moves.

The Drake is ahead. The Ocean Wanderer heeds its call.

Photo by Beth

Written by:
Mattias Borchardt-Hume | Deckhand

Comment on this article