Tuesday, February 27, 2007

12 hours to go…Part One

Choosing to ignore the magnitude of the upcoming marathon I’ve prepared for race day by taking every opportunity to leave the ship and head ashore. The first excursion of the day was to Half Moon Island, a beautiful crescent shaped strip of land towered over by the nearby glaciers of Livingstone Island.

We hiked three miles along the shore carefully avoiding the boisterous bull Fur Seals. The females have taken their pups north to the Sub-Antarctic islands whilst the males have stayed in the South to gorge on Krill in preparation for the rapidly approaching winter. Packed with testosterone they barked and growled, regularly charging at our group. Having heard that they’d taken a chunk out of someone’s backside on a previous visit we were careful to give them a wide berth!

Not to be outdone, the Skuas were quick to alert us to their presence. If their swooping bombing runs didn’t end with a peck they turned instead to biological warfare – one crafty bird leaving my jacket covered in poop.

The afternoon brought an extremely close encounter with a Humpback whale and her calf. Cruising through the relatively calm waters of Yankee Bay they were easy to spot each time they breached the surface. It wasn’t long before we were rewarded with the incredible sight of them fluking.

We lost sight of the whales for several minutes but when the pair next surfaced they were just a few metres from the zodiac and headed straight for us. Whilst the mother took evasive action and dived beneath the boat the calf, who didn’t seem to have its bearings, bumped the boat rather like a toddler who’s just starting to walk.

A final race briefing was held at 9pm when the ship returned to Maxwell Bay. We’ve been warned that the course on nearby King George Island is ‘extremely challenging’ with fresh snow having fallen. The weather forecast is also ‘bleak’, though I’m not sure quite what that means in Antarctic terms.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tanya and Matt!! Are you kidding me that with that piddly amount of training you won the whole thing!! Awesome! Great to see the photos and read about the adventures so far! It looks gorgeous...and damm chilly!! I hope you guys are having a great adventure and I can't wait to hear all about it!! You'll be happy to know it is starting to feel like Spring back home! Lori : )

Anonymous said...

Fantastic to keep up with your adventures.Wonderful pictures and so pleased that despite sea sickness,bad weather etc...you all made it! Well done. Thinking of you lots. Love to you all Mum xxxx