This morning we navigated back to Paradise Harbor.
- The name was given by whalers who would head to this bay in a storm as the harbor offers protection from winds of almost any direction.
- Waterboat Point (across from Lemaire Island) was the sight of the ill-conceived but lofty-named British Imperial Antarctic Expedition of 1921 that had two teenagers living under an up turned boat for the winter.
- It is also the home of the Chilean research base, Gonzàles Videla although little actual research takes place and the staff is entirely military.
- Gonzàlas Videla base staff are fond of announcing themselves as “Paradise Bay Harbour Master” to passing ships.
We were the first boat again to take off to our last landing on Gonzàles Videla and what a surprised we received. There was a very rare (1 in 22,000) white penguin. It is called a Leucistic Penguin (also sometimes spelled leukistic) and it lacks pigment. A Leucistic Penguin is different from an Albino because it still has pigment in its feet and its bill, so it is not technically an albino.
We saw a Crabeater Seal on an iceberg, but rather than sharing my photo, I am going to share the video Jay Patel’s (a fellow traveler) took yesterday.
There was also Elephant Seal near our landing and the Gentoo was right near it.
Dorene captured these photos of a Skua landing near the Gentoo and then taking off from the rock.
It is kind-of sad to have completed our last landing. Each one has been so exhilarating. It is hard to think about how this expedition is coming to an end.
Sue Deitderich sent me one of her favorite photos of the Gentoo watching the Ocean Tramp that we had seen yesterday.
Wendy took this wonderful photo of an iceberg today. I am not sure where she took it, but it is beautiful.
We celebrated Heidi’s birthday in the observation lounge this afternoon even though her birthday is not until the 29th. Her Mom, Sondra, thought it would be more fun to celebrate it on smooth waters rather than when we back in the Drake Passage. The staff made a cake big enough for 20 people for all of us to share. So Sondra broke out the champagne and we started the party.
As we were traveling we were looking for more whales. We started seeing some blows and a few whales appeared but not much over the surface of the water. The ship hung around the area for a bit and then continued heading further north towards Wilhemina Bay to look for more whales.
I still loved watching the icebergs…
…but we weren’t finding many whales. So the captain and the expedition team decided to head further north to the Gerlache Straight.
We were just sitting and talking when we noticed that it was time for dinner so Fred, Bill and I started into the dining room when somebody yelled out, “Wow” and we knew there was a whale somewhere. Fred went to the back of the observation lounge; I grabbed Fred’s jacket; and Bill and I ran up to the upper deck. It was actually snowing and blowing. My hands were freezing and I wasn’t getting any photos with my camera so Bill gave me his gloves and we stayed out for a little bit longer.
Finally we gave up and went to dinner. Somebody should have been video taping the events at dinner. We started to eat and somebody again yelled, “Wow” and we would all stood and ran either to one side of the dining room or out on the back deck. Cameras were clicking everywhere. Then we would all sat down to eat again and somebody from the other side of the room shouted out and we ran to the other side. That scenario just kept repeating. I didn’t get any photos of whales so I just took one of Fred and Rick taking photos.
It was great fun. Fred got a video and, of course, Morten took several fantastic photos so I have to post them all.
At 21:45 they announced that we crossed back over the 60th latitude, left the Antarctic waters, and were back in the Drake Passage. We were only rolling a bit.
Fred went with me when I slid some of my brother Bob’s ashes off the back side of our ship slightly after we passed the 60th latitude. I had asked about doing it in Antarctica and found out that it would have been illegal. It felt appropriate to put him in the slightly turbulent waters.
Tonight’s program (at 22:15) was the famous MF FRAM Crew Show. The show was wonderful. Joni and I even danced with the staff at the end.
I was looking forward to feeling like I was in a hammock as the shipped rocked through the night.