After dinner last night, in the spectacular Neumayer Channel, Larry Hobbs announced over the PA system that Orcas had been spotted near the Melchior Islands. Guests streamed out onto the decks as these gorgeous creatures moved all about the ship, their power quite incredible. The massive fin on the large male clearly visible, and youngsters moving about in groups. Excitement levels were acute – so many having dreamed of seeing the cream and grey top predators. The Orcas had no sooner dispersed when Humpback Whales were seen in profusion around Le Lyrial. Photographic opportunities second to none, and beautiful photographs and video’s were taken, including bubble-netting. The denizens of the deep were bidding us an Antarctic farewell, till well after 1am. The Captain keeping the ship close to these awesome mammals.
Atmosphere on board was somewhat subdued, guests having handed their life jackets in yesterday afternoon, and this morning would be handing back their rental boots and waterproof trousers. The goods we found in pockets and boots were very interesting indeed – credit cards, camera batteries, orthotic insoles, etc.
Photo coach Richard Harker gave a presentation on digital workflow. Referring to Ansel Adams and other famous names who edited their photographs in various ways, photo post production is available to almost all with a digital camera and computer. Richard offered wonderful advice on editing and using Photoshop or Light Room programs. The number of questions clearly indicates that many wish to upscale their skills in this complex field. Naturalists were out on deck pointing out the wildlife about the ship.
Patri Silva was up next with “Albatross-we have a problem!” Highlighting the threats posed by long-line fishing to Albatrosses, these magnificent birds mate for life, and fly incredible distances foraging for food. Should a bird be killed by baited hook, then the partner may perish awaiting food/rotation at the nest site. Patri explained the methods being adopted to reduce the long-line dangers to Albatrosses, but they remain endangered birds, unfortunately. Patri’s presentation last evening on the Red-jacket Albatross was unforgettable.
Shackleton wrote “..As though we were truly at the world’s end, and were bursting in on the birthplace of the clouds and the nesting home of the four winds…” The dreaded Drake Passage has daunted our guests, but the Captain assured them of a smooth crossing, with more wind due for the morning tomorrow. All day we sailed fast on a gently rolling sea, in this sleek, fast, comfortable ship.
I was invited to join the Young Explorers for lunch, to chat about explorers, etc. The staff downstairs in Le Celeste restaurant were charming, offering menus to the children, and providing small burgers, etc for their little appetites. Conversation was lively, with 3 or 4 children often speaking at the the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Bright young minds, and all delightful.
During the afternoon, I spoke about lesser known personalities of Antarctica. Men like Mawson, the winter journey to collect Emperor Penguin eggs at Cape Crozier, Lashly, Crean, Wild, whose stories are easily as remarkable as the main players. Wild and Joyce are the only men to have earned the Polar Medal and four bars. I concluded this lecture with a story about Alfred Henry Hook, VC, hero of Rorke’s Drift, suggesting that we should all consider how we would like our lives remembered and live our lives to that end. Hook would have been so proud of the inscription upon his gravestone in Churcham. It would be fantastic if the experiences, bonds and conversations forged together on this voyage were taken with us all, once we leave the ship and this incredible cruise together.
Captain’s Farewell cocktail party and dinner was a resounding success – the Captain Le Rouzic is a thoroughly charming, engaging man who thanked everyone sincerely for their contribution to this great time together. Dinner was outstanding – most guests retiring early after the late night provided via whale watching last evening. I sat with a charming Australian family, with two young daughters, and had the most enjoyable evening. Altogether a glorious day en route back to Ushuaia.