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.
whales popped in and out of view. Antarctica was showing us her best side today. The blue of the Ice Bergs is something that I believe cannot be replicated. The ice has a magical dream like quality and to be sailing through them silently was wonderful. We bothered no one and nothing. No engine sound and no footprint. I lay on the deck near Rhonda (who had been brought forward to the bow) with the sun on my face and just took it all in as we managed a modest 4 miles an hour!
|Humpback Whales and Rhonda|
perfect anchor and settled in for the evening after putting out 3 lines to nearby rocks. The lines were to stop us swinging too much as we were in a sheltered bay with little room. That night we ate dinner aboard the Ice Bird and enjoyed an early night while the going was good.
The next morning we contacted the nearby base and asked permission to land the bike for the
second time in Antarctica. Vernadski is a Ukranian base and home to 12 men. Unlike the Chileans who stay for just 5 months, these guys stay for 12. They are not Navy or Airforce but a group of scientists. Their role is to collect data.
Cath and I went ashore to speak with them and discuss our options. After a quick chat it seems we had many and we were going to have to try and squeeze a lot in to this day!
Our new plan was to land the bike, have a play in the snow, do some tobogganing, have a sauna (built at the base) and a dip in the icy water and then join the guys again for a barbi and a few drinks.
|Landing the bike|
really was getting some attention. It's not often you see a sailing yacht coming through the ice bergs with a Motorbike strapped to the bow. It seemed the Navy, Airforce and scientists alike were loving it and they were more than happy to pull out all the stops to help and even entertain. It made a change from counting penguins I guess (actually on this base there was no colony. This is why we gained permission)!
|Rhonda at Vernadsky|
Once in the Zodiac we took her around to the boat ramp where the Ukrainians were waiting with a crane. Carefully Rhonda was winched out and placed gently on the jetty. It went smoothly. It always helps to have a load of big Ukrainian men on hand!
|Fun in the snow|
|It's tough work!|
|In the base with my little Welsh sheep and their local big sheep!!|
down locked together with one of us holding a go pro above our heads to capture some pretty funny footage!
That night we had a wonderful spread and enjoyed some great hospitality in their cosy bar area. The home brewed spirit of Almond snaps, sugar, 5000 year old glacier water and some other stuff helped to keep the conversation going and after the first lot of our crew left at around 12.30pm on the first zodiac, the party games began! They are hard to explain but I ended up landing on my head at one stage with a chair on top of me! Needless to say I failed that particular challenge as did everyone else who tried! We left at around 3am. Life jackets on, in to the zodiac, navigate a few ice bergs and we were home and thankfully still dry!
|Drinking games before it went wrong!|
|So long and thanks for all the fish!|
More pictures from the day
to leave. Just as I did the Chileans. I had an urge to stay and do some time with them. It probably could have been arranged too but I left on the boat as planned. Not brave enough to make the decision.
That was to be our last party on Antarctica. The Lamaire Channel had other plans for us!