Todays excursions consisted of touring iceberg filled Paradise Bay and a landing at nearby Neko Harbor. To get there, we sailed along the peninsula under a mostly cloudy sky. All along the way, amazing views of the snow covered shoreline mountains were reveled. Despite it’s deepness in places, snow and ice seemed fluffy as whipped cream. Cruising into and around Neko was about all I was allowed to do though.
Having photographed glaciers and sea ice in Alaska many years ago, I was really looking forward to being out among them again here in Antarctica. I would have been too, but I was still stuck onboard. It was far too windy and cold for my poor lungs, so I busied myself with exploring the ship a bit. I found the disco bar and gambling rooms, located and did laundry. I still had to be available during our usual consulting times to meet with people needing instruction, but most people were out on the zodiacs. I’d removed the motion sickness patch 2 days before, but was still feeling overheated and dehydrated, so staying put really was the best for me. From time to time, I did sneak out topside to look around. It would have been foolish to believe that I wouldn’t. Even though I was confined to ship, I was still in the middle of a spectacular landscape and I had an amazing platform from which to photograph. 22 hours of daylight and the constantly changing quality of light and swirling clouds meant there was no shortage of inspiration. I was compelled to venture out at least a little. As soon as my nose started to moisten though, I’d dash back in and recover. Later in the afternoon, the ship moved out of Paradise Bay and over to Neko Harbor. Neko is an inlet on the Antarctic Peninsula on Andvord Bay, situated on the west coast of Graham Land. The Harbor was discovered by Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache in the early 20th century. It was named for a Scottish whaling boat, the Neko, which operated in the area between 1911 and 1924.This was a landing I sorely wish I could have taken part. On shore were hundreds of nesting Gentoo penguins perched on rocky outcroppings. Again, I was restricted to photographing from the ship and watching the zodiacs come and go. I managed quite a few really nice landscapes during that time, but I still really missed being able to get close to the penguins. Happily, I responded quickly to the antibiotics over the 2 days since getting grounded. I was given a tentative clearance on Christmas day to resume all activities on the 26th. I still wasn’t feeling perfect, but with care I hoped to make it through the trip without any further problems. Christmas eve onboard was pleasant but subdued. A lot of us were feeling a little homesick for family and friends. All the residents seemed to stay inside their rooms, while the crew staff were treated to an extra special dinner. Slabs of prime rib, turkey and ham with all the trimmings were included. They did feed us well during the entire trip. The expedition team members were allowed to eat in the officers mess, which was a cut above the crew mess, but still a few notches below the resident restaurants above. We were not allowed to eat up there unless invited by a resident. Actually, that worked for the best. Eating sort of became that thing you do somewhere between consulting, photographing, meeting, lectures, socializing and, oh yes, drinking! Did I mention our alcohol was included? Later, the band that was along for the excursion provided music in the crew nightclub, so, you know, we did alright.A look out the port holes made me jump up. The light was getting good again, so before turning in I made another round around the top deck for a few more images. Tomorrow we will be traveling through the Lemaire Channel. It’s really getting good now.