[This post written 6/29/08; position: lat -52'55", long -66'46"; temp 4C; wind chill -10C]
In response to Tracy’s comment on yesterday’s post, thank you, Tracy. I’m very glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the virtual trip. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing about it, and having such a great excuse to take thousands of pictures! Will I be joining the scientists for the March voyage? No, I won’t be. Someone else will have their turn at an Antarctic adventure next March.
Today, finding myself at leisure, the sun out, and the temperature above freezing, I spent some time out on deck. We have had petrels following the ship ever since we left iceberg A43K a few days ago. The ones I enjoyed watching today were Cape and giant petrels. I estimate that I have about a thousand pictures of petrels by now, most of them truly crummy, because it’s so hard to photograph birds while they are flying. I’m better at it now than I was at the start of the voyage, but that is not saying much. Still, it was great to be outside in the sun. The wind no longer has the biting quality it did further south. With the wind chill now in the minus single digits during the day (and the days much longer!) it felt quite mild out there.
The top picture doesn’t really capture it, but the sea in the ship’s wake was particularly beautiful today. The sun shimmered on the white tips of the waves. In places, the water was so luminous that it seemed to be lit from within, glowing blue-green. The Cape petrels are always fun to watch, they are so skillful in flight — swooping and diving, scooping water with their feet and their beaks. The thing is, they move too fast for this photographer. I took lots of blurry pictures of them. But there were these two giant petrels. Giant petrels are the heavy aircraft of the petrel world, and they move much more slowly than their smaller cousins. Thus, they are a better target for novice photographers. Unfortunately, the best giant petrel picture I got today, lovely though it was, filled the frame to overflowing, mostly cutting off the bird’s head. So I settled for this one. Not as good, but it will give you some idea what I was seeing today in the NBP’s wake.
Now I am off to join the party we’re having down in the galley. The invitation says we should wear our “issued best.” IOW, items of extreme weather clothing we were issued but haven’t worn yet. For me, I guess that’ll be the heavy plaid flannel shirt and the sea boots. We are now in the Strait of Magellan, and the ship’s information screen says our next destination is “A pub with libations.” We should be in Punta Arenas by 10:00 a.m. local time tomorrow. Ah, solid ground, be kind to me, please.