Sunday, 22 March 2015

Back on the road!

Rhonda arrives in style
It's already 3 weeks since I left Antarctica behind. Since then it has been mostly logistics.

I flew to Punta Arenas where I celebrated my victory with a group of British guys. This "quiet night" ended in one of them falling down the stairs and smashing his head open leaving him unconscious in a pool of blood on the floor at 3am.  This is what happens when you start drinking BLUE drinks after dinner! The emergency services was engaged for 10 minutes and things got pretty stressful for a while but he made it to the hospital and in to good hands in the end. His flight home was delayed for 10 days while he recovered but last I heard he was doing well.

The adventure never ends....even when you want it to!!!!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Need some more reading material?

I have written a couple of articles for these guys lately and they have offered a discount to my blog readers -  so here you go. I hope it will be of use to some of you.

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

How was it for you?

1st March

This morning I woke up and looked out of my port hole. Every time I tried to do this from my lying position I’d bang my head on the low ceiling in the process. This morning was no different!
“Oh No” I exclaimed (right after “Ouch”) as I looked out of the window and saw what I thought was thick fog surrounding us! Then I realised it was condensation! I wiped it away and a sunny day was revealed! Clear blue skies and calm waters! We were going home!

After some time scrubbing the boat from top to bottom in preparation for the new teams arrival, we jumped ship and left on the zodiac for one last trip to shore.

Our 10 seater charted plane was waiting for us and in 3 hours we would be in Puerto Arenas. I can't say I wasn't glad to be getting back on dry land! 3 weeks at sea is a long time for someone who has never sailed before. I missed the road.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

28 Feb - Are we there yet?

Our crossing from Deception Island to King George went without further hitches. Arriving though, was not straight forward.

It was choppy and we struggled to get a good hold with the anchor again. Getting the position right is just not easy in these conditions. We also had another boat in the harbour to avoid (He, of course, would be swinging too). Our first attempt at dropping the anchor ended in chaos as the message (through the wind) from the bow came back as “There is a cable stuck on the anchor”. We seemed to be dragging and the skipper could not figure out what to do. It wasn't making sense. The radios could not be heard over the wind and so two of us were shouting at the same time to relay the messages from the bow to the pilot house.

26 February - BOOM!!!

Yesterday ended up a near disaster. The only words on the tip of my tongue were MAYDAY MAYDAY!

A blizzard started up and so we all decided it was better to stay anchored where we were. Yvette and I made dinner and we all shared some wine. As I am the only white wine drinker (and I had had a bad day) I drank close to a bottle to myself. Everyone else polished off the last of the red supplies.

After dinner it was decided that we would all need to be on Anchor watch again. The main issue was that we had anchored fairly close to the shore to allow for shallow waters. However, the rule when anchoring is that you have to let out 4 times as much chain as the depth of the water. This will stop the anchor from dragging (if you're lucky). However, it also allows swing and that is fine as long as the wind is blowing in the right direction. On this occasion (as with others) we had to be close enough to shore for the shallow waters and so this left us open to wind direction. If it changed we could end up grounded. The only sure thing about the weather in Antarctica is that it changes EXTREMELY quickly. This is why we needed anchor watch.

25 February - Deception Island

Sitting on the boom to weight the boat
23rd February

Anchor watches required.  Came aground AGAIN Today! Had to climb the boom with Sally and Xavi to weight down one side of the boat as we tried to dislodge ourselves. This was becoming a habit.

24th February

After a lovely evening of wine and steak I went to bed with an episode of breaking bad (series 3 episode 10). It had been a great day of sailing and sunshine! This place really is magical with a bit of sunlight on it! The weather had broken for a brief spell and we made the most of our respite, sitting on deck, taking in the unbelievable scenery and watching out for Whales. We met a family of Orcas as well as the now common sightings of humpbacks.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

22 February - Entering the Lamaire Channel

From Vernadsky we headed North along the Lamaire Channel.

The weather has been horrid over the last couple of days. Rain, snow and wind. We had an ice burg hit us during the night and we lost one of our lines so this morning there was a mission on to get a new line out to ensure we were secure and not swinging wildly while we prepared to leave. It was a lot of effort considering we were not going to stay long but the wind was too strong and unpredictable to take any chances. We have had a couple of smaller bergs hit us already. These are generally redirected with the Zodiac.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

20 February - Second bike landing on Antarctica.

I discovered the morning after our party that the best cure for a hangover is to get your dry suit on and go Kaiaking around the ice bergs!

What a stunning day. Cath and I set off and within 10 minutes of being in the water we were graced with the sighting of a couple of humpback whales. They were a good distance away and we watched as they continued on their path - apparently oblivious to our presence - before heading for some funky looking ice bergs. The shapes were stunning and they glistened in the morning sun. It really was breathtaking. The penguins jumped in and out of the water around us as we paddles silently on. I will never forget
that experience. It was perfect!

The next morning we left Water Boat Point and headed West.

18 February - Water Boat Point

Having landed the bike at Paradise harbour we headed over to Water Boat Point to visit  the Chilean Naval base - Gonzalez Videla.  This historic site has been used for research since Shakelton's expedition in 1922. Today it is home to a large colony of Gentoo penguins and13 men (at least for part of the year).  We radioed ahead and asked permission to land. Permission was granted and so we set about baking them a cake by way of thank you. They were near the end of their "shift" and presumed rations would be low.