Wind wind wind and no wind and ice and whales.
We left Deception the same night, the old lady always ready for a good bit of swell and the nightwatch ready for some serious wind and snow. Crossing the Bransfield from the South Shetlands down to the peninsula is seldom a calm night, and it was not this time either. We woke up to a fair bit of wind, snow and the first large icebergs in the distance. When we arrived to Spert Island, our first plan, halfway the morning; the wind was undoubtedly to much to even consider lowering the zodiacs. At least that made for an easy decision : after watching the impressive rocks and icebergs from a distance through the fog and
snow, we went on to the second part of our plan, a landing at Mikkelsen Harbour. After engining against the wind for a while it became clear that this could not be right, not like this to an unlikely landing possibility. As the wind kept increasing the weather forecast kept forecasting gentle winds from seemingly randomly changing directions.
Today as yesterday our grib files were useless for planning, the only thing we could use for planning was now. So we decided to go with the wind, with now, turn of the engine and set sail for the third part of our plan, Cierva Cove. Still our first plan, just a bit earlier. And so we arrived to a plan that made sense. In Cierva Cove the wind left us. Suddenly we were in calm waters. Surrounded by icebergs, large icebergs, blue and turquoise and pulsating white against the dark skies. We lowered our 3 small boats and set out on a cruise between the icebergs. For a while we could silently be overwhelmed by all the ice around us. A
good while, but not long enough to change for a second round and not long enough to get back to the ship without being salted by the spray.
We made it back of course, back to our warm and solid ship, covered in a proper layer of snow. However unlikely it seemed, after dinner the wind had calmed down. Again we experienced how a whole day of wind and uncertainty can compress itself in a moment that balances it all. Everyone who had not been able to come earlier now came out for a short drive to see the snow covered Europa from water level. That in itself was impressive enough. But who could have thought up the Humpback whales
that joined us, or imagined the one diving under our zodiac during the first ride? Yes, it was a day full of wind and of waiting. But most of all it was a day with sudden calm, the most impressive icebergs, listening to the call of the Humpback whales around the ship.
Picture by Florian Luetolf