The big ...big... blue sea! Oh and some Icebergs
12.03.2007 - 19.03.2007 -6 °C
As part of the trip we were due to stop off at Elephant Island, where Shakelton and his compadres had walked and sailed to as part of their heroic adventure.
Unfortunately for us... the weather wasn't nice enough to allow us to drop anchor and get ashore and funnily enough the captain told us that in the previous three trips, they'd never been able to land on the island and as a result they were contemplating removing it from the schedule. Not really a good thing, however as we'd been at sea for two days already to get us to the island... we were already realising that it would result in 8 days at sea before we'd spot land again!
We waved goodbye to the inhospitable island and headed North into the Drake once again.
Funnily enough the weather was pretty good and the water temperature started (ever so slowly) to get warmer day by day. We were still south of the Antarctic convergence (which is where the cold water of Antarctica and the warmer waters of the South Atlantic "converge") so the weather was still damn cold though!
The watch was at 11 people (almost a full complement) however, as per usual, some of the others that had been fine for the whole Antarctic peninsula seemed to have forgotten their sea legs and wound up downstairs in their bunks...ill..... apparently!
This was really starting to wind Steph and I up!
Minus feckin 6 degrees !!!
That's what the temperature was last night and we were stood out in it on watch !
Talk about cold !
Taking into account the wind chill on the bow it worked out about minus 15 !!!
The watch is now down to 6 people... Steph had to bail last night and the rest of the guys are feeling a bit worse for ware!
Funnily enough I'm on good form and am starting to enjoy thing on board (even if it's freezing and windy and the seas rough!)
Makes you wonder how those poor soles in Shakelton's tiny boat coped with this weather and how all sailors in the olden days coped! We at least had nice coats and gloves etc....
The weathers getting worse! The cold water also means that the water making machine (reverse osmosis) isn't working as efficiently as expected, therefore fresh water reserves were down to a minimum. The Captain had banned showers until the water levels recover.... which of course was met by the expected contempt from those amongst us who more and more we're beginning to believe that “sailing the Southern Oceans in a sailing ship” was to be a cruise liner style journey only suddenly (to our great joy) to find things….. a little bit more uncomfortable to say the least! Idiots !!!
We on the other hand don't mind the lack of hot water and showers for a few days as those amongst us that had already began to conserve water by showering already smelled.... what did we care
We had a DVD player and big screen TV on board so most of the time we spent down stairs or in the deckhouse, however, as one of the guys pointed out, the deck house was beginning to look like a geriatric hospital more and more each day and since the faces in there weren't grinning when you entered... it wasn't a happy place! People started to hide in places around the ship and Steph and I found ourselves either outside (for as long as possible) or hiding in the library to get away from the incessant moaning of the other passengers!
This trip is doing one thing though.... it's teaching us restraint and patience that's for sure !
Dolphins.... "Comet Dolphins" as one of the guys on board labeled them ! They were fantastic and funnily enough, with a bit of persistence you were always rewarded with some fantastic sight by the ocean every now and again!
They were Hourglass dolphins, however, it was pitch black and the only way we could see them diving in and out of the Bow waves, was because they lit up the water as they shot through it as Phosphorescent algae and small squids etc. would light up the water as the dolphins passed through. It was beautiful and they continued to do this for a half hour or so. They'd disappear and then suddenly three or four comet trails would appear in the water and shoot across the bow.... Beautiful isn't the word for this and those of us that remained on watch were certainly grateful for the show we'd been privileged enough to just witness!
The Wind is beginning to pick up over the past few hours and the captain has asked that we are particularly vigilant during our watches as there are "Bergy Bits" and "Growlers" (Small chunks of Iceberg that don't show up on the radar as the majority of the iceberg is under water) in the water....
We were heading through Iceberg Alley and having completed our watch successfully navigating through the icebergs we handed over to the other watch and went to bed.
What the Feck !!!!
We've hit something. I was jolted awake as something hit the ship and I heard the remnants of whatever it was creaking down the side of the ship.... What was happening!
I lay awake in bed hearing people scurrying above board and listening to the shouts going on.... however... they weren't to panicked and the ship hadn't stopped or anything.... We must have hit something I thought and went back to sleep.
We had hit a Growler and luckily for us we'd hit it head on (Which is the strongest part of the ship!)
The watch hadn't seen it approaching and by the time they did... it was too late and we hit it square on!
A Small hole was punctured in the bow which was quickly patched up by the engineer and some mastic or whatever and other than that (Having had one of the crew hanging of the Bow sprit with a torch) everything looked fine.
Morning broke and it was then that the damage was identified....
We'd lost our lady.... our head cast... Our wooden cast of the lady that was fixed to the front of the ship! This was not a good omen at all I thought and we still have about 30 days sailing ahead of us!
That night a few of us made a small offering to Neptune and hopefully he'll watch after us better than he had our lady
The next two days sailing were pretty uneventful. The winds picked up... icebergs started to get larger but further dispersed and the watch numbers started to increase again as people began to rediscover their sea legs (or the weather got warmer.... hmmm... I know which one I thought)
Finally land is spotted and we sail through between Bird Island and the mainland of South Georgia. We've made it !!!
Steph found this quote in the book she's reading whilst we're under sail.....
"Passengers get sea sick, grow quarrelsome, don't sleep at night, do not enjoy themselves much as a general thing; - No, I never go as a passenger" - Herman Melville's "Moby Dick"
I can honestly say that Both Steph and I (especially Steph) are not passengers any more and as each days sailing progresses we both are becoming more confident and more helpful to the permanent crew.... It's a good thing and the journey is far more enjoyable as a result!