Another Christmas gift from Laura and Fede was that we didn’t have to sail the next day; we spent a second day in Foyn Harbor. An aside here, I didn’t realize there were so many little islands around Antarctica. After 11days at sea, we haven’t set foot on the continent yet and won’t for a couple more days.
Anyway, Foyn Harbor was our playground for an extra day, and we took full advantage. We started the day with a hike straight up a giant hill (mountain?) of snow. The snow was deep in some places, and we sank up to our knees. There might have been a bit of falling. From the top, there’s that view that I’ve only seen here in Antartica. Gorgeous glaciers with huge cracks that look like they’re going to calve at any moment. There’s a lot of pent-up power there.
As always for me, coming down was a whole lot more fun than going up is. We had taken little plastic sit-on-top “sleds” up with us, but they didn’t work that well. The snow was too deep, and the sledding angle was too gentle. Instead, I took the idea of the natives and penguin slid down the hills, head first, occasionally assisted by the single-leg frog kick for speed. This worked well. The penguins are on to something. This was screaming good fun, and we spent a bit of time climbing back up and sliding back down. I’m sure I scraped all the waterproof off my jacket and pants, but it was worth it (she says now, on a super sunny, warm day). Eventually, we hopped back in the Zodiac and did a tour of the Bay. We got crazy close to massive icebergs. We also saw a couple of abandoned water boats up on shore. The water boats collected water (duh) and transported it to the big whaling ships. We got to closely inspect the big rusted ship. Laura says people sometimes dive around the ship, but that doesn’t sound that appealing. Supposedly, the bay is too shallow for Orcas, but a Leopard Seal would easily fit down there. Above water, Antarctic Terns have taken up residence on the ship.
Laura made Borscht for lunch, and it was delicious. We’re anticipating bringing home a few Antarctic l-b’s for sure. It was probably less than great timing right after lunch, but Bertrand taught whale school for us. He showed us which whales we might see and characteristics to look for. We are documenting the whales for Bertrand’s experiment, but also for www.happywhale.com. They are keeping track of whales and some seals around the world, and when “your” whale is seen somewhere in the world, they send you an email to tell you where. We have to get good photos of the underside of the fluke of humpbacks, dorsal fins of other whales, and the faces and necks of Weddell Seals, which are the cutest ones.
It wasn’t a comment on how riveting whale school was, but we all needed a nap afterward. Then, Katherine, Bertrand, and I took out the kayaks. I was the steerer in the two-man boat after I told Katherine I know how to steer. I never said I was good at it, and there was a lot of that annoying back stroking, which brings you to a stop. It was still super fun, and thankfully, my Goretex clothes are still waterproof, despite the morning of penguining down the hill. We paddled between enormous blue and white icebergs. We tried to get to places where we might see whales, but no luck. We were successful in finding and retrieving a block of ice that had fallen in to the water and took the ice axe to it for gin and tonics. Laura figures the ice is about 10,000 years old. In any case, it made the drinks cold.