• Home
  • Triplogs
  • HDS24-21, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula, Discovery and Learning Voyage

HDS24-21, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula, Discovery and Learning Voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions

Logbook

Day 1: Embarkation, Ushuaia

Embarkation, Ushuaia
Date: 24.12.2021
Position: 54°48’.6 S, 68°08’.0 W
Wind: Var.
Weather: P.Cloudy
Air Temperature: +16

Most of us flew into Ushuaia the night before our early morning luggage drop-off and sanitation which began at 8am, when many of us caught first sight of our ship, Hondius, already tied up at the pier awaiting our arrival. After drop-off we had time free to explore the southernmost city in the world and have lunch around the charming downtown before making our way in assigned groups to the sea front for mandatory covid testing - and our first interaction with the two ship’s doctors and some of the expedition team. Once all guests had confirmed negative test results, we boarded buses for the short drive to the pier and were dropped off alongside the ship - our home for the next 10 days. We received warm welcomes from the Expedition Team and were escorted onboard, ready to start our adventure! Those of us in the earlier groups had time to explore the ship while we awaited arrival of all the passenger groups.

By 4.30 pm all 98 guests were onboard and we cast off from the wharf at just after 6.00pm, turned our bow to the Beagle Channel and set sail in the direction of the infamous Drake Passage and our destination – Antarctica! - seen off by a flyover of Black faced Ibis, the last ‘land birds’ we would see for 10 days.

After the mandatory safety drill we all went down for our first meal aboard together, served buffet style. Because of the forecast of rough weather for the next day our expedition leader, Sara, wisely brought forward the mandatory IAATO briefing to be delivered immediately after dinner, which ensured everyone was able to attend. Afterwards we mingled at the bar or took to the decks to soak up the atmospheric views of the late evening sun in the Beagle Channel and to spot our first albatrosses, dolphins and whales of the cruise in anticipation of many more in the days ahead.
Most of us flew into Ushuaia the night before our early morning luggage drop-off and sanitation which began at 8am, when many of us caught first sight of our ship, Hondius, already tied up at the pier awaiting our arrival. After drop-off we had time free to explore the southernmost city in the world and have lunch around the charming downtown before making our way in assigned groups to the sea front for mandatory covid testing - and our first interaction with the two ship’s doctors and some of the expedition team. Once all guests had confirmed negative test results, we boarded buses for the short drive to the pier and were dropped off alongside the ship - our home for the next 10 days. We received warm welcomes from the Expedition Team and were escorted onboard, ready to start our adventure! Those of us in the earlier groups had time to explore the ship while we awaited arrival of all the passenger groups.

By 4.30 pm all 98 guests were onboard and we cast off from the wharf at just after 6.00pm, turned our bow to the Beagle Channel and set sail in the direction of the infamous Drake Passage and our destination – Antarctica! - seen off by a flyover of Black faced Ibis, the last ‘land birds’ we would see for 10 days.

After the mandatory safety drill we all went down for our first meal aboard together, served buffet style. Because of the forecast of rough weather for the next day our expedition leader, Sara, wisely brought forward the mandatory IAATO briefing to be delivered immediately after dinner, which ensured everyone was able to attend. Afterwards we mingled at the bar or took to the decks to soak up the atmospheric views of the late evening sun in the Beagle Channel and to spot our first albatrosses, dolphins and whales of the cruise in anticipation of many more in the days ahead.

Day 2: The Drake Passage

The Drake Passage
Date: 25.12.2021
Position: 57°26.35’ S, 64°19’.0 W
Wind: NW4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +7

Xmas day!...... in the infamous Drake Passage!!-…how surreal!?! Not completely benign but reasonably well behaved all day with a 3m swell. Just like the waves the expedition team was on a roll. Firstly, we got boots sorted out with most of the passengers braving it down to Deck 3 with sometimes more than just one hand for the ship. Before lunch Sasha gave us the first glimpse of Antarctica by giving an informative lecture on the icy, windy and surprisingly dry continent.

After lunch, Hazel gave a great opening presentation on the amazing seabirds we could encounter on our cruise. She introduced us to the five albatross species we were likely to see on the trip and amazingly, within 3 hours we had recorded all five alongside the ship! All the happy campers and the keen kayakers then had their introductions and briefings from the specialist lead guides, Ben and Axel for camping, Alexis and Sebastian for kayaking.

During the afternoon we crossed the Antarctic convergence, the biological boundary of Antarctica - our first major milestone. Many guests took the opportunity to catch up on their sleep or a quiet read whilst gaining their ‘sea-legs’, we were invited down to the lounge for our first recap of the trip which included a briefing from Sara on the next day’s activities), a short talk on Giant Petrels from Andrew, followed by Bill’s famous ‘’look, see, think” talk. Suitably inspired we all went down to the dining room for a great dinner.

Day 3: The Drake Passage

The Drake Passage
Date: 26.12.2021
Position: 61°58’.45 S, 63°23’.8 W
Wind: NNW4
Weather: Hazy
Air Temperature: +3

The day dawned pleasant and calm as we continued across the Drake Passage. Not even close to being the usual ‘Drake Shake’ we were starting to call it the ‘Drake Lake’. During the night the 60th parallel was crossed which marks the geographical boundary of Antarctica. Early mariners referred to these high latitudes as the ‘furious fifties’ and ‘screaming sixties’. We were grateful to be in such a comfortable, well-built ship like Hondius and could only imagine the hardships and suffering of men who ventured into these latitudes in wooden sailing ships.

At 09:30 our lecture programme continued with an informative talk about ‘Glaciers and Glaciation’ by Assistant Expedition Leader Laurence. This set us up very nicely for the frozen continent that awaited us. Expedition Leader Sara followed on at 11:00 with a talk about ‘Penguins of the Southern Ocean’. We were left in awe by Sara’s stunning photos of these wonderful creatures creating an even greater air of excitement and anticipation, as we pondered the prospect of our first penguin encounter.

The first half of the afternoon was spent down on deck 3 doing mandatory biosecurity checks on all our outdoor equipment, known affectionately as the ‘Vacuum Party”. The expedition staff were on hand to check for any unwanted foreign bodies that could contaminate Antarctica’s pristine environment.

For those venturing out on decks we were seeing large numbers of Wilson’s and Black-bellied Petrels close to the ship and Antarctic Prions had replaced yesterday’s Blue Petrels. After a few unidentified blows our first great whale surfaced close on the port side. It was a fin whale – only the second largest animal on the planet! Unfortunately, it did not resurface and several other subsequent contacts were hampered by the increasing mist which eventually brought an early close of play.

We then all met for a mandatory Zodiac briefing at 16:30 given by Sara. We returned to the lounge at 18:00 for Captain’s Cocktails. Due to covid protocols the bridge officers are not allowed to mix with guests, so Sara read out a message on his behalf. We concluded with a champagne toast followed by our celebration dinner. We headed off to bed full of excitement for our first zodiac landings on the 7th continent.

Day 4: Danco Island, Orne Harbour

Danco Island, Orne Harbour
Date: 27.12.2021
Position: 64°40’.35 S, 62°36’.0 W
Wind: Var 2
Weather: CloudyAir
Air Temperature: +3

Excitement ruled the day…the morning began very early for the many passengers who stood on the foredeck wrapped up in multiple layers of merino wool and gortex to catch their first glimpse of Antarctica. The photographers amongst us were certainly not disappointed - a horizon filled with sparkling white glaciers and towering mountains emerging from the swirling clouds. Our luxurious new home, Hondius, motored steadily to Danco our first adventure destination.

Conditions were ideal for the early morning activity - kayaking. No wind…nothing to even ruffle slightly the flat calm endlessly interesting sea. It was a ‘paddlers playground’ dotted with small bergs and brash ice which had drifted in since the vessels last visit. The rest of us were all ferried from the ship to the landing site. This for most of us was our first ever Zodiac ride… an exciting, bumpy, addictive experience. The guide team had laid out a safe route to the large gentoo penguin colony and the more energetic of us of us climbed higher up the hillside to gain a vantage point looking down on the beautiful scene of an ice strewn sea.

Major entertainment then followed as over 60 hardy souls participated in a ‘polar plunge’, stumbling or running with loud shrieks and hysterical laughter on making contact with the freezing water. Some of us dived in for immediate total immersion whilst others were content with just a lower body splash. Vigorous towelling of red and purple tingled bodies followed and everyone dressed to be ferried back to the warmth of Hondius.
After lunch, the ship repositioned to Orne Harbour under the dramatic menacing rocky mass of Spiggot Peak for the afternoon activity. Zodiacs landed on a boulder outcrop at the base of a long steep snow slope, again a safe route carefully marked out by our guides. The climb led to a Chinstrap penguin colony at the top of the ridge. The views from here were amazing…glaciers tumbling into the sea from towering mountain masses and Hondius appearing like a small ship model far below. The cruising Zodiacs zoomed about the ice studded bay in pairs, leaving white trails in the sea. Passengers were treated to sightings of a Humpback whale on the edge of the brash ice, seals lazing on the rocks and penguins diving from edge of the land into the freezing water.
Recap followed before dinner and passengers reflected that this aspect was, at times, like a mini-university educational cruise as information was imparted by experts on diverse subjects such as history, snow and ice, geology, flora and fauna. A great first Oceanwide expedition day!

Kayaking Log 1
We started at 6:30 dropping the kayaks for the first time into the electric blue ocean full of white and light blue icebergs. A light snow fall welcomed us as 28 kayakers, excited and full of enthusiasm, were ready at the aft shell door as our two specialist guides, Alexis and Sebastian, collected us.
We started in a free ice spot - our armada of kayaks paddling forward with commitment. We entered the ice field, avoiding the biggest bergs and rounding the smallest ones, in perfect weather conditions - no wind, flat calm water - a smooth start for our heterogenic group. We spotted two Weddell seals close to the Gentoo penguin colony of Danco Island with some of the penguins swimming and jumping around our kayaks. Overhead we saw Antarctic terns & skuas, Blue eyed shags and some Snowy Sheathbills. A great first paddling session in Antarctic waters, indeed.

Camping Log 1
After a first day full of emotions and great weather conditions, it was our time to aim for camping at Stony Point. We had dinner and then got ready for the night out. Axel and Ben went out on the first zodiac before us to assess the camping spot and conditions. Initially, wind speed and ominous cloud coming towards the location put the activity in risk and for a short time the guides thought about a cancellation. But as we all know how quickly conditions can change in Antarctica, so they decided to wait a bit to be 100% sure. Fortunately, the wind dropped and so the first campers could go ashore.
Once there we were briefed by the guides we started digging holes, getting ready before the predicted worsening weather reached us. As soon as a few shovels were available, Ben and Axel began the mission of setting up the facilities for the toilet and then everything was ready to go to sleep. As soon as we were inside the bivouacs, snow and wind hit the campsite and put our snow shelters to the test. The difficult conditions lasted for a few hours before our guides came to wake us up; by now many of the campers were keen to get back to the comfort and warmth of Hondius!

We heard on the radio that the zodiac operation had started and then saw them first ones approaching. Well, that was a true experience of camping in Antarctica, and we reflected on what Ben said on the first day: ‘’Some of you will love this experience but more that the half will hate it”. Proof that Antarctica needs to be respected as we don’t naturally belong to this environment.

Day 5: Brown Station, Lemaire Channel

Brown Station, Lemaire Channel
Date: 28.12.2021
Position: 64°39’.7 S, 62°38’.5 W
Wind: Var 2
Weather: Clear
Air Temperature: -1

This morning we enjoyed a landing at Brown Station (previously named Almirante Brown), an Argentinian research base which lies within Paradise Harbour. Early 20th century whalers gave the area this name in recognition of its beautiful scenery of towering mountains and impressive icebergs. Once we had figured out how to put on our snowshoes, those feeling energetic hiked steeply uphill to the viewpoint whilst others stayed within close proximity to the base. The base as it stands today consists of structures which were rebuilt after the original buildings were destroyed by a fire in April 1984; portions of the ruined original Brown Station are evidence of the fact there was once trouble in Paradise Harbour. The cause of the fire?..... the station’s physician had already spent a year working at the base, which would have included a harsh winter lasting many months, during which there would be no daylight. Understandably, he was looking forward to heading home. When he was given the news that he would have to remain at the station for another winter the prospect proved too much; he deliberately set fire to the base to ensure he would be sent home! Fittingly, the station personnel were rescued by a US ship called ‘Hero’.

Alongside the base and fantastic scenery, a colony of gentoo penguins provided interest at this site. Other wildlife seen during our visit included Snowy sheathbill, Antarctic skua, Wilson’s storm petrels and numerous Crabeater seals hauled out, resting on the ice.

In the afternoon we were unable to go zodiac cruising around Paradise Bay (our plan ‘A’) so we remained on board and cruised through the Lemaire Channel instead. By this point in the trip everyone had realized that plan ‘B’ does not mean a lesser experience; on the contrary, this backup plan gave us an afternoon of the most spectacular scenery and some wonderful wildlife! We had fantastic views of three Antarctic pinniped species and, having received a great talk by guide Hazel about these flipper footed animals prior to entering the channel, guests were able to put their newfound knowledge to use in identifying them as Crabeater, Weddell (pictured right) and Leopard seals.

Due to thick ice towards the end of the channel we had to turn back the way we came, but no one was complaining; this just meant we got to take in the scenery again from a different angle! A birding highlight was the numerous Snow petrels, a stunning bird with all white plumage which delicately flits between icebergs feeding upon krill. The expedition team and guests spent the whole afternoon on deck enjoying truly magnificent views of towering mountains with cups of steaming glühwein in hand.

You could be forgiven for thinking that was enough excitement for one day, but we were treated to a fabulous finale in the evening. The relaxed, quiet environment of the lounge was shattered by the excited exclamation of ‘ORCA!’. Expedition guide Andrew spotted the unmistakable dorsal fin of a male orca (aka killer whale) in the distance and those guests who were able to spring into action quickly were rewarded by a fleeting encounter with this animal, which was accompanied by a smaller female, as they passed by the port side of the ship at great speed.

Day 6: Orne Island, Cuverville

Orne Island, Cuverville
Date: 29.12.2021
Position: 64°39’.7 S, 62°38’.5 W
Wind: Var 2
Weather: Clear
Air Temperature: +3

Early morning Hondius approached Orne islands. The weather was sunny and almost still, so the day promised much. After the breakfast we put our gear and lined up by the shell door to board our zodiacs - our aim was to reach at least one of the penguin rookeries. The island was fully covered with a thick layer of snow so we h ad to struggle making our steps, but none of us complained because, after all, it was Antarctica!

Besides Gentoo penguins it was possible to see nesting Chinstraps with both species of penguins incubating their eggs waiting for the chicks to hatch. Nearby Antarctic skuas were waiting for any penguin to get distracted and take advantage of stealing an egg. The surrounding landscape was fascinating; the Gerlache Strait, walls of mountain ridges partly lit by the sun, partly obscured by clouds with icebergs dotted all around. We could even see Plancius, the little sister of Hondius, enjoying their own activity not far from our landing site.
During lunch the captain repositioned the ship and we then disembarked to Cuverville island. The island was quite small, but famous for being a home to the biggest colony of Gentoo penguins on the Peninsula. The weather was just unbelievable - the wind dropped to nothing, the sun was shining - it was possible to walk wearing only a t-shirt. We enjoyed the penguins for about an hour and then were taken for a zodiac cruise around the island. Sailing amongst the icebergs some of us were lucky enough to spot all the species of seals that could be met in the area: Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seal.
The dinner was also special – a surprise BBQ provided by our brilliant hotel team! It was a bit cold outside but hot, mulled wine (and a little dancing!) solved the problem. A big thanks to Sigi & his crew.

Kayaking Log 2
Orne Island (am): With a promising forecast we woke early to be ready and could confirm that weather conditions were actually far better - no wind, mirror calm water - perfect for kayaking!!! It was a dream start, all in silence, absorbing the peaceful yet powerful of the natural world. We were there in the moment, quiet beings all celebrating life together. From the shore Andrew spotted a humpback whale so we decided to head in its direction. Finally… after a 15-minute dive it surfaced. We watched in awe at the blow, followed by the dorsal fin and back and lastly the tail fluke as it dived into the depths again. We ended the morning with a last visit to a Gentoo penguin colony. Fabulous!

Cuverville Island (pm): The weather conditions in the afternoon were even better and we started at the northeast tip of Cuverville Island with a plan to circumnavigate it. A Minke whale came very close to us and we were able to compare the different dorsal fin and shy behavior compared with the humpback we saw this morning. We had great bird watching as we paddled through an ‘ice garden’ of bergs. Towards the end we had a very close view of a Crabeater seal and then two beautiful Weddell seals lying on the rocks in front of the biggest Gentoo penguin colony on the Antarctic Peninsula. Best kayaking since the beginning of this season. No doubt about it!

Camping Log 2

Our camping the previous day was cancelled due to the amount of ice around the Lemaire Channel area but we got our opportunity today. During our briefing our expert guides told us not to drink alcohol before going ashore as this was risky in the potentially low temperatures. The lure of the BBQ meant that some decided against coming ashore. Ben & Axel went out first to Kerr Point, Ronge Island to scout the conditions. They made steps to get up from the rocky landing to the snow field at the base of a beautiful mountain with hanging glaciers on top. They looked like were going to fall on us but Ben and Axel reassured us about the carefully chosen disposition of the terrain which meant that avalanches couldn’t reach us.

On arrival we realized how lucky we were with the weather conditions and such a beautiful location chosen by the team. As the group that night was much smaller, it didn’t take too long to be ready to sleep. Excitement kept us awake but we knew some sleep was necessary before our pickup at 4:30am.

Back onboard of Hondius, chatting with the previous group, it was possible to understand how beautiful Antarctica can be when nature decides to smile on us but to be respectful and not push too hard when conditions get challenging. Again…a true experience in the wild Antarctica!

Day 7: Gerlache Strait, Foyn Harbour

Gerlache Strait, Foyn Harbour
Date: 30.12.2021
Position: 64°35’.9 S, 61°58’.5 W
Wind: SW3
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

We thought we knew what we were going to be doing when we woke up early today having been briefed yesterday for a landing on the rocky atoll of Useful Island. However, it was not to be - the forecast indicated wind and ice in the area, so it was decided to head straight for the second planned location of the day…Foyn Harbour. Guides and passengers settled down to a few hours rest and rehabilitation, with settling down to sift through and edit their mounting collections of photographs. They should not have bothered! This was an Oceanwide Expeditions Adventure cruise where asymmetry and flexibility are the keys to excitement.
A cry from the bridge at 64 degrees 28.8 south, 62 degrees 14.4 degrees west in the Gerlache Strait….a large group of Humpbacks at 12.00 off the ship, dead ahead. Our skillful captain slowly eased Hondius into the best possible position facilitate viewing and photography. What then happened over the next 1.5 hours was a wildlife encounter that was simply off the scale.
At least 40 whales were spread out all around us feeding and exhibiting of a wide range of behaviours….lunging, fluking, flipper and tail slapping, mothers guiding calves. And all of this at amazingly close range with the audio back drop of their incredible ‘roar’ as they broke the surface to exhale. If that was not enough several curious individuals deliberately and repeatedly approached the ship, coming right alongside and circling us. Every so often they would just hang motionless or even spy hop – clearly checking us out. The whole ship was out on deck by now, knowing that we were witnessing a truly unique spectacle that will inspire us for the rest of our lives. Just WOW!
Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away and motored towards Foyn Harbour. With Hondius anchored, zodiacs and kayaks took to the ice-covered waters were launched to explore the area. The kayaking group meandered quietly and gently through the confused mass of ice whilst the zodiacs noisily pushed the ice out of our way. Several seals and a whale were spotted during this exploration of the area
Our target was the MV Governoran, an historic wreck slumped in a narrow bay, its red rusted and rivetted bow rising like a dramatic piece of sculpture from calm water in. The twisted decaying metal above and below the sea gave no hint that it was once the pride of the Norwegian Antarctic whaling fleet - at one time the largest whale factory ship operating in these waters. A drunken party on board in January 1915 at the end of the whaling season resulted in a knocked over an oil lamp and started the blaze which ignited her massive cargo of whale oil and so spelt her end. Thankfully we learned that no lives had been lost.

After a surprise hot chocolate (plus rum, if desired!) delivered by Sara and the hotel team, we carried on taking in the softening late afternoon light - snow covered mountains perfectly framing the ice studded sea. We switched off our engines for some moments of personal reflection in the atmospheric silence. A day never to be forgotten.
Kayaking Log 3
The conditions we were waiting for finally happened - brash ice, beautiful icebergs drifting around us against a strong current. We paddled forward, in silence, pausing to watch the forces of nature maintaining the balance in a spectacular weather condition. We were a group of 26 kayakers, this time take their own decisions with a distant supervision from our two guides. Everybody was happy - looking, seeing, thinking and engaging brain.
Finally, we got to the cove where the Governoran has lain since 5th January 1915. We loved being able to paddle inside and around the shipwreck. Arctic terns were flying over us and the sea was calm allowing us to get really close to the superstructure. Crystal clear waters allowed us to see the remains of the old whale factory ship’s hidden treasures under the surface– fascinating. Sara and the hotel team brought us hot chocolate with rum to warm us up our and we had one last paddle to take us to the end of this amazing adventure.

A message from your guides, Alexis & Sebastian: We started as a group of individuals kayakers to become friends and a great team. Thank you so much and we hope to see you again for more adventures.

Day 8: Deception Island, Hannah Bay

Deception Island, Hannah Bay
Date: 31.12.2021
Position: 62°38’.9 S, 60°38’.2 W
Wind: NE8
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 0

We were woken at 04:45 (!) by Sara’s as she called us to the outer decks to witness the ship’s transit through Neptune’s Bellows at Deception Island. Excitement levels were palpable as we prepared to sail into the heart of a volcano that had last erupted in 1970. The conditions outside were perfect with clear skies over a flat calm sea - uncharacteristic for the South Shetland Islands, which normally have a wild and windy aspect about them. As the Captain skillfully guided Hondius through the narrow entrance, the towering cliff off the starboard side seemed almost close enough to touch. The Expedition guides were on hand to point out some of the interesting features, such as Neptune’s Window, a large cut in the caldera wall. On our port side as we passed through the bellows, lay the remains of a whale catcher called Southern Hunter which came to grief on a submerged rock in the narrowest part of the channel.

Once inside we were in Port Foster, arguably one of the most hidden and protected harbours in the world. We could appreciate why American sealer Nathaniel Palmer gave the island its name in November 1820. At just 7.5 miles (12km) across, every part of the inner caldera wall was visible to us. To starboard we saw Whalers Bay with the remains of the whaling station that operated between 1906 and 1931. There were also the ruins of the British ‘Base B’, set up as part of Operation Tabarin in 1944 and largely destroyed during the 1969 eruption. We dropped anchor off Telefon Bay and launched zodiacs ashore to explore the black volcanic landscape. Along the shoreline a few Chinstrap penguins and sleeping Weddell seals were there to greet us. We followed a route marked out by the expedition guides that took us up to the rim of a n impressive crater from the 1967 eruption, with an awe-inspiring view across the whole caldera with Hondius lit by the early morning sunlight.

Back on board, breakfast was served as we made her way back out through Neptune’s Bellows. At 10:30 AEL Mark led the way with a talk entitled ‘Living in Antarctica: Life at McMurdo’ - a fascinating insight into life at the largest base in Antarctica, where Mark had clearly enjoyed his time supporting the U.S. scientific program. The rattle of the anchor being dropped was heard at around 11:00 as Hondius came to rest in Walker Bay on the south side of Livingston Island. Hannah Point, our destination could be seen near-by, but windy conditions greeted us. As the Bridge and Expedition Team monitored the conditions the wind increased to 40 knots, which was well beyond safe operational limits. Sadly, the decision was made to abort our afternoon landing and head towards Ushuaia.

At 16:30 Expedition Guide Felicity gave a lecture presentation entitled “Licence to Krill”, looking at the threats to marine life around the Antarctic continent. Our fantastic Hotel Department prepared a special final dinner of 2021 which was followed by a quiz in the lounge. Celebration drinks and dancing commenced as we welcomed in the new year of 2022. Let’s hope its a good one!

Day 9: At Sea – The Drake Passage

At Sea – The Drake Passage
Date: 01.01.2022
Position: 59°39’.15 S, 63°58’.1 W
Wind: NE4
Weather: Fog patches
Air Temperature: +2

Today was our first full sea day crossing back over the Drake Passage heading north. In the morning conditions were very calm, similar to the ‘Drake Lake’ we had been fortunate enough to have on our first sea day heading south. Despite this it was quite quiet on the wildlife sightings front but an adult Wandering albatross turned up mid-morning. This species has the longest wingspan of any living bird, reaching nearly 13 feet! They are perfectly adapted for dynamic soaring, a style of flight which uses very little energy, taking advantage of strong winds. Whilst some of us became uncomfortable as the wind and waves increased throughout the day the albatrosses and other seabirds were loving it!

A varied and interesting lecture schedule was provided throughout the day; Laurence started things off with ‘High-latitude bathymetry: the world beneath the waves’ shedding some light on the deep, dark ocean floor. This was followed by Sara’s talk regarding ‘Women in Antarctica’ which revealed the untold stories of the wives of Antarctic explorers, such as Shackleton and Scott, along with modern day heroines of the frozen continent. After lunch Bill delivered his thought-provoking lecture ‘Paintings of the sea’ before Andrew and Felicity rounded off the day’s talks, inspiring guests with information about tackling plastic pollution and the power of citizen science through photography.
We briefly observed a small pod of Long-finned pilot whales, spotted in the distance at the 11 o’clock position in the distance off the port side. They weren’t interested in approaching the ship and so we quickly lost to sight of them as they travelled away at speed. These distinctive animals are actually the second biggest members of the dolphin (delphinidae) family after the killer whale/orca, with adult males reaching up to 6.7 metres. With their black colouration, large size and bulbous, rounded head, pilot whales are unmistakable with good views. Down in the southern hemisphere they also have a distinctive white patch behind their dorsal fin.

By the evening the sea state had increased considerably; compared to the calm morning we were now experiencing high winds and large rolling swell. With conditions set to continue for the rest of our journey back north the doctors were kept occupied handing out patches and pills to those who had previously been convinced they didn’t want them! Those feeling up to it headed for dinner and played board games in the bar into the evening whilst others hunkered down in their cabins.

Day 10: At Sea -The Drake Passage

At Sea -The Drake Passage
Date: 02.01.2022
Position: 55°27’.15 S, 65°53’.6 W
Wind: W11
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

From the early hours of the morning, the swell started to increase as we sailed closer and closer towards the predicted ‘purple monster’…! Breakfast was, shall we say, quiet - not all of us felt quite up to eating this morning. However, the view from the tables was spectacular! Some of the waves were reaching 10 meters in height and so whilst eating, the horizon would appear and disappear, with spray constantly washing the windows. Due to the bumpy conditions, the mornings activity of returning muck boots was postponed several times, to help minimise everyone’s movement around the ship.
Instead, the first lecture of the day was given by Hazel, who talked about the history of whaling and our relationship with cetaceans today. Whilst Hazel was talking, the wind speeds outside were climbing and eventually gusts were reaching a maximum of 84 knots! This is the highest wind speed the Captain Artur and officers have ever experienced!

The second lecture of the morning was given by Ben, who talked about the history of the Beagle Channel and the Yamana’s. As a few more people started to appear, another delicious buffet lunch was served. The sun was shining and the swell was beginning to calm down as we came into the shelter of Cape Horn. After lunch, we started wrapping up the end of the adventure; everyone returned their muck boots and paid off the dreaded bar tab! Before the final round of antigen testing, Ralf joined us in the lounge and chatted about what it’s like to be the head chef on board a polar expedition ship. He told us about how difficult it can be getting the right provisions all the way to the bottom of South America, how many thousands of eggs he buys for each voyage and how the menu changes with the conditions outside!

This evening’s recap was one to remember; it was Captains Cocktails as well as the debut showing of Juan’s slideshow – an incredible summary of our adventures around the Antarctic peninsula.
Afterwards, we all headed to the restaurant for our final dinner, another superb 4 course meal provided by Ralf and his team.

Day 11: Disembarkation, Ushuaia

Disembarkation, Ushuaia
Date: 03.01.2022
Position: 54°48’.67 S, 68°17’.9 W
Wind: W2
Weather: Fine
Air Temperature: +9

We arrived back in Ushuaia on board Hondius having completed our Antarctic expedition of Discovery & Learning Voyage!

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1686 nautical miles
Furthest south: 65°07’.13 S, 064°01’.38 W

Thank you all for such a wonderful voyage, for your company, good humour, enthusiasm, patience, and support with our covid safety protocols! We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be! On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Artur Iakovlev, Expedition Leader Sara Jenner, Hotel Manager Sigi Penzenleitner and all the crew and staff, it has been a pleasure travelling with you!

Details

Tripcode: HDS24-21
Dates: 24 Dec, 2021 - 3 Jan, 2022
Duration: 10 nights
Ship: m/v Hondius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

Have you been on this voyage?

Aboard m/v Hondius

Hondius is the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world, optimized for the most innovative exploratory voyages throughout the Arctic and Antarctica.

More about the m/v Hondius »
Loading