Tuesday, March 18, 2014

the journey home

We awoke in a force eight.  A force four had been predicted but we instead enjoyed a six metre swell with the odd eight metre thrown in.  Talking of throwing, I reckon a good quarter of the ship's company didn't make it up and about that day, including a number who'd been complaining about the lack of a good storm!

The decks were closed, not surprising given the bow of the ship was regularly in the waves.  It made breakfast a lot of fun, in fact it made everything a lot of fun, especially as we were accompanied during this storm by between three to five Antarctic Petrels, this one snapped through a sea covered window in said storm:


I was chuffed to bits to see these birds as I'd assumed we'd missed out on them and they kept us company for very nearly four hours, splendid :)

We were supposed to land at Deception Island on the way back to Ushuaia, but the storm meant we couldn't navigate 'the bellows' a relatively narrow entrance into the active caldera.  Instead the decision was made to head early into the Drake Passage and instead to go around Cape Horn on the return.

As we approached Cape Horn however a force 12-plus was then forecast, the highest category of storm at sea, given the risks of Cape Horn and the approaching storm a further decision was made to head for the safety of the Beagle Channel, which we reached at 05:30 on the morning, fully a day before the latest we could get back.  We then waited, while the edge of the storm blew over and beyond us, for the local pilot to navigate the ship back to harbour.


I saw my last albatross of the voyage, a Black-browed Albatross:


Brown Skua flew close to the ship:


The pilot did eventually join us, hopping from his boat through the door of our ship:


And we enjoyed the various sights the Beagle Channel has to offer as we headed in:



We made harbour early and could then choose to stretch our legs, join in the various presentations or pack, I did most of these.  It was the time then to disembark for days 4 and 5 of the trip home, flights, waits, boredom and then home sweet home!!  

An amazing adventure, a magnificent landscape, South Georgia in particular together with the various days at sea with some wind and sunshine were my highlights.  I met some lovely people on board, some of whom I hope to stay friends with in the long run.

If you are a vegetarian I strongly recommend either (a) telling them you are a vegan to get a decent meal each day, or (b) be prepared to be forgotten and/or treated as second class, this was by the far my biggest complaint of the whole trip, the provision of food for vegetarians was mostly woeful and considering the expense, not acceptable.  The quality of the expedition crew however was genuinely first class and the experience will live long in my memory.  

I added 110 life species including sixty of the vary hardest to see, and I had set foot on every continent on Earth in just eighteen months.  Probably won't do another cruise though...

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