Run Silent, Run Deep

Trip Start Dec 09, 2013
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Trip End Dec 21, 2013


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Where I stayed
Ocean Diamond
What I did
terns, penguins, and a hut

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our final day of excursions was as breath-taking a the first. Our wake-up call came early this morning so we could go up on deck to watch the boat maneuver through the ice of the Lemaire channel. This is the first time this season that the boat has been able to get through. The patterns in the sheet ice as it has been breaking up were beautiful. The photographs came out in black & white particularly well because of the strong lines.



Our destination was Pattermann Island. There was a small Argentine hut there which is often used as a holiday base by the researchers who over-winter and want a change of scenery.  The geology of the island was very different as it had huge granite boulders as well as basalt.  We were only a group of eight for our kayaking expedition. When the pack ice is melted more, the island can be circumnavigated but today the far end was blocked by ice. We had a delightful paddle to where the ice began and then hugged the shoreline on the way back. We got up close and personal with the penguins, terns, gulls, and cormorants. My favorite moment was a small bay. At the end was a lengthy slope with a single penguin standing on his own. Of course, I got so excited taking pictures of him that I dropped my glove in the water. What followed was a five minute exercise demonstrating poor kayaking skills as I circled around it in an attempt to retrieve it and thus leave no trace.

All three of the double kayaks left shortly after the glove incident, leaving just two of us and a guide to continue paddling. We had great fun paddling through the ice and got up to the edge of it again on the south side.  We could see clear to the bottom close into shore in about ten metres of water.  A little further out and the depth had clearly dipped to hundred of metres of dark water. The quiet seemed to engulf us despite all of the other people in the area.  

We went ashore briefly at the end of the excursion. While the Adelie and Gento penguins were their sweet selves, in Pattermann it is the view from the top down into the infinite sea that steals the show. Well worth the hike (even if we felt slightly silly doing it in dry suits)

Lunch and a quiet afternoon chatting in the bar followed.  The polar plunge was the highlight of the afternoon as 40 intrepid passengers stripped down and leapt of the boat into the frigid waters – watched by 140 other passengers who thought that lot was crazy.  We cheered and snapped photos while the jumped. Surely a better option.

A food fight at dinner that centered around a birthday cake was the highlight of the evening. We were very glad to miss getting whipped cream embedded in our hair.

Drake Passage begins tonight. Patched and pills just in case of sea-sickness. I can't believe the biggest part of this adventure is at an end.  We’ve done so much more paddling than I expected. I feel as though I’ve been on  a paddling trip rather than a cruise. 
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