Wed 1 February 2023
Yet another day at sea! Despite going as fast as we can, Campbell Island remains frustratingly still some distance away. Excepting another miracle like we had at McMurdo Sound, it seems as though we will not be able to stop at Campbell Island and will be heading directly back to NZ. One of our table at breakfast this morning arrived with “it feels like we’ve been on this boat for 2 years!”. It is getting a bit monotonous as we have grey foggy skies and endless swell with nothing much else to amuse us outside. Thankfully the wind and swell have dropped a bit (and the temperature has increased to 10C)- although that deprives us of the entertainment of all the chairs sliding sideways while we are listening to lectures.
Today Samuel talks to us about his “Wintering over in Antarctica – 5 months at Dumont D’Urville Station. It is an absolutely brilliant presentation talking about so many different aspects of life down there including history, logistics, accommodation, scientific work, camaraderie, hi-jinx and of course amazing wildlife photography with gorgeous pictures of emperor penguin chicks and Weddell seal pups that had the entire audience aaahing.
John changes hemispheres and tells us about the “Quest for the North Pole”. In his usual engaging style we hear about many of the earlier attempts and some of the disputed achievements/attempts along with various flights by balloon, airship and airplane. Many of the same characters appear that we have heard about for the South Pole.
After lunch there is the opportunity to book special deals on upcoming Heritage Expeditions. Oh how I would love to be able to ….
Vincent wows us with an amazing presentation on “Polar’s Symphony” where he looks at various classical music/composers who use nature as inspiration for their music – and in one case actually use bird calls as an instrument. These composers are primarily northern hemisphere but he shares one that is based around Scott’s expedition to the South Pole and his eventual death – and illustrates it with black and white photos from our trip that are so evocative – it is absolutely magical.
Later there is an Antarctic Discussion Panel where John, Steve, Jenny and Bryan answer a whole range of questions on the Antarctic Treaty, Fishing, Climate Change and more with many people interested in how we can best achieve the Antarctic Ambassador roles we have pledged to undertake. Basically sharing the experiences we have had, the majesty and fragility of the environment, as widely as we can; and to take the opportunity to write to ministers, talk at schools etc to share the message.
We did have a film scheduled but at dinner Aaron announces that we should reach Campbell Island by 9.30 and that the captain would take the ship into Perserverance Harbour so that we could have as much of a look as we can while there is still daylight. Then we unfortunately have to continue our voyage back to Bluff if we are going to meet schedule for Friday morning.
At 9.15pm many were in the observation lounge eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of Campbell Island. Unfortunately there is a heavy sea fog and we can hardly see the sea let alone any further away. It is amusing to see people peering hopefully through their binoculars in hope of seeing something. Eventually we start to see the dark shape of land appearing and race out onto the decks. Aaron gives us a description of what we are (or ought to be) seeing in Perseverance Harbour including the prominent hill (Beeman Hill) that sits above the weather station and old research station. Mt Honey and Mt Lyall that are (apparently) either side of the harbour remain shrouded in mist. We do see quite a few seabirds including the Campbell Albatross but unfortunately by that time it is getting too dark to capture any photos. One of the zodiacs rushes out to retrieve a pair of boots that had accidentally been left behind by a staff member on a previous trip. By that stage most of us figure that we are not going to see much more so head off to bed.
It is sad that we haven’t been able to spend any time at Campbell Island but it was a trade off between seeing more down in Antarctica and we couldn’t guarantee that we would be able to see much anyway. Those onboard who were more interested in wildlife were most disappointed as they didn’t really care about the huts. Those like me who are interested in a bit of everything are glad that we had the experience of getting as far south as we did, seeing McMurdo Station and the final hut. It has made the last 7 days seem like a very long time to be at sea – cabin fever is definitely becoming an issue for some.
Day 1-2: Meeting and Departure
Day 3: The Snares
Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: Macquarie Island
Day 7: Macquarie Island
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: At Sea
Day 10: At Sea
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Cape Adare, Antarctica
Day 13: Possession Islands
Day 14: At Sea, Coulman Island
Day 15: At Sea
Day 16: At Sea
Day 17: At Sea, Ross Ice Shelf
Day 18: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 19: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 20: Cape Evans/Cape Royds
Day 21: At Sea
Day 22: At Sea
Day 23: At Sea
Day 24: At Sea
Day 25: At Sea
Day 26: At Sea/Campbell Island
Day 27: Final Day at Sea