Sunday, 24 December 2017
24.12.2017 - 24.12.2017
As we go up to breakfast we see signs of land and also our first iceberg. There's even the hint of some sunlight and the breaking up of the overcast.
The next activity is again in the lounge where we are briefed on the environmental rules when going ashore. Basic common sense but needs to be stressed. Basic distances from wildlife, avoiding nesting areas, stay within marked areas and look out for each-other. The correct procedure for boarding the Zodiacs was explained and a short talk on appropriate clothing and wearing of life-vests.
Next activity was the 'bio-security' check. During this process all our external clothing was checked and vacuumed to ensure there were no contaminants taken ashore. We then moved on to the 'mud room' where we we selected our boots and we found our assigned location. We were then asked to sign a declaration stating we had been processed. A considerable amount of time and effort but for a vital cause.
I've noticed that the photo-chromatic lenses are darker in the bright light here than they are back home. This is making it difficult to compose an image on the camera and most times I press the shutter and hope for the best.
After lunch it was determined that conditions were suitable for us to go ashore. An interesting exercise for us as much of the gear had not been previously worn and we had no idea how it would perform. The waterproof trousers were excellent and worked beyond expectation when we stepped off the Zodiac into 50 to 60 cm of water. The gloves proved difficult to put on but once on functioned very well. The parka proved perfect for both wind and wet, the only bit of gear that let me down was the backpack.
The trip from the ship to the beach was exciting as the zodiac was pushed into the wind and the waves. We were drenched as the spray driven by the wind splashed over us without respite. When we stepped off the craft it was onto a rock-strewn beach with waves breaking over us. I found the footing almost impossible to negotiate and would have fallen many times but for the assistance of Jenny and one of the crew. There was no chance of me doing anything adventurous as I constantly tripped over the rocks. Took the advice of one of the crew and sat on a boulder to quietly observe.
Managed to capture an image of a penguin and also the ship lying at anchor. The wind was relentless and after an hour or so we made it back to the beach to be back-loaded to the ship. The guys who stood almost fully immersed to hold the zodiac and help us board definitely deserve a lot of credit. Returned to the ship and stripped our gear off in the mud-room.
On reflection I'm more than pleased to have made it ashore but will need to seriously think about doing it again Perhaps if conditions are more favourable I'll give it another try. Meanwhile nothing but high praise for the whole crew.
Christmas Eve Diner was a very festive affair. There were pixie hats for each of us and an impressive menu including a glass of champagne for the toast. After the meal we gathered in the lounge where the crew assembled to form an impromptu choir leading us through a range of Christmas songs. To top off the evening we had Santa drop in with presents for everyone.
Once again it was well past our regular bed time when we returned to the cabin and crashed. All together it is proving to be a busy trip with little time to read or write.
Of significant concern is the increased frequency of the camera failing to respond. Some functions like the zoom and the focus appear to work intermittently. I'm inclined to suspect that there has been some moisture introduced despite the 'dry bag'. Looks like I'll have to invest in a waterproof model.
Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony