+27 (0)82 4000 470 rob@robcaskie.com

It is a sad, strange anti-climax when the last day of a cruise dawns, particularly one as extraordinary as this. For the Classic 9-day Antarctica itinerary, these guests have been blessed with unusually calm crossings, and the most exquisite weather. Most on the team cannot remember 5 consecutive days of such fine weather in the Peninsula, ever. After a gentle start to the morning, on a very calm Drake Passage, Larry Hobbs gave a wonderful talk on his studies and experiences to date, culminating with his thoughts on sustainability. Larry, aka the Whale Whisperer, has led a charmed life and travelled extensively studying various marine creatures, including fresh-water dolphins in Burma/Myanmar.
Early research with Polar Bears was very amusing, as the tranquilliser had little effect on the eyes. As a result, immobilised bears’ eyes would follow the movements of the scientists disconcertingly. On one occasion, a new antidote to revive the bears was introduced. Manufacturers claimed the drug would work in a minute or more. Well, a bush pilot was standing directly in front of the bear, as the drug was injected. The bear responded immediately, and literally ran right over the top of the pilot, in its efforts to get out of there! The pilot apparently packed his plane, flew back to Barrow, then took a commercial flight south, never to be a bush pilot again. With experience from the Amazon to Antarctica, and almost all over the globe, Larry has an encyclopaedic knowledge which he shares graciously, and in the most entertaining manner.

Jannie Cloete spoke to the passengers about disembarkation procedures in the morning. Guests were advised to leave one shoe in the room safe to ensure that they never left anything behind. Getting 200 passengers off the ship, and onto various flights to Buenos Aires, with their bags, requires careful logistics, and Jannie and Sally do an incredible job of it. I spoke to the Young Explorers about Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition, before discussing various survival items to take along from a selection on offer.  Helen Ahern and Dean Hattingh have created magic for the Young Explorers, who have learnt a great deal on this program. We then had the opportunity to view the video created by Melanie of this voyage. Seeing our itinerary packaged into a video is a fantastic reminder of just how much we have done over the past 9 days, and ALL the landings conducted in sunshine. Sliding in the snow on two landings was clearly very popular, as was every hiking opportunity.

Dolphins were regularly seen around Le Lyrial once we entered the Beagle Channel a little after midday. Plenty more entertained the guests whilst we waited, stationary, for the pilot to guide us into Ushuaia port. I spoke about Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition, with some reference to his earlier voyages on Discovery and the Nimrod. Many guests have read about Shackleton, and were delighted to have the story unfold in the Theatre, as the Endurance was trapped in the sea ice off Vahsel Bay in January 1915. Eventually, in November, the ice would completely smash and sink their beloved ship, leaving 28 men and 57 dogs afloat on the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. Over the following 6 months, suffering the most awful conditions and deprivations, the men would find their way in 3 lifeboats to Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton took the gamble of attempting to sail a lifeboat 750 miles across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia, to get help. What followed is perhaps the greatest feat of navigation in history, and after more than 4 months, Shackleton would eventually rescue all of his men off Elephant Island. Given the luxury and food aboard Le Lyrial, one could see guests trying to imagine Shackleton’s circumstances and desperation. An appropriate story of triumph and human endeavour with which to finish this incredible journey together. The lecture, the very last on this cruise was well attended, thankfully.
Orde-Lees, in his diary of the Endurance Expedition wrote “And now to conclude. Is it worth doing? Ask any member of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition and you will receive the reply :Yes, I would not have missed it for the worlds’ and Would you go again? – Rather! Such is the call of the South!”

Some guests have asked me to recommend some books pertaining to my talks. Herewith a selection, not in any particular order bar the first-

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry Garrard
South by Ernest Shackleton
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
Shackleton’s Boat Journey by Frank Worsley
Scott’s Journals by Robert Falcon Scott
The Home of the Blizzard by Douglas Mawson
The Quest for Frank Wild by Angie Butler
Shackleton’s Forgotten Men by Beau Riffenberg
Race to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen

Before dinner a collection of photographs taken by the Expedition Team, and prepared by Richard Escanilla was shown in the Theatre. A wonderful collage of shots, many of guests, accompanied by music, and some video’s. One guest has been kind enough to give me many of her stunning photographs, for which I am very grateful. Internet speed from the ship makes it impossible to send photos daily for the blog, so this season’s photos appear in the following season’s blog. Suzana thanked the team and guests alike for a simply sublime cruise, before we enjoyed another wonderful meal on Le Lyrial. Quite a number of staff on this team are departing tomorrow, whilst the remainder return to the Peninsula. Sadly weather predictions for the following cruise are not nearly as favourable as we have enjoyed. Paying one’s taxes to cross the Drake, as it is fondly known!  Many have gone off to explore Ushuaia, on a balmy 10 degree evening, reminiscing about this once-in-a-lifetime adventure which has seemingly exceeded everyone’s high expectations. Travel blessings to all travelling tomorrow, and may our paths one day cross again.
Goodbye for now.

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