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

The Captain mentioned that the sea would strengthen on day 3 of our crossing between Ushuaia and South Georgia. Indeed, it has. Powerful, deep swells thankfully running in the same direction as we are travelling. As a result the ship is very comfortable with the stabilisers out, but swells were coming over the dining room windows on Deck 2 regularly at lunchtime. We are dying to see a whale come past the window, but have not been that fortunate yet. During tea time a rogue swell inundated the stern of the ship, swamping Deck 3’s outside deck area, bursting open the Main Lounge doors and swamping the carpet! The surprise on our Ukrainian singer’s face was unforgettable as she frantically turned off electrical equipment, and tried to save her computer (successfully). My heart goes out to the Housekeeping Department now mopping up, and trying to dry the carpets. Life at sea…
This sea would be dreadfully uncomfortable were it running against us. One of the great advantages of going to South Georgia first on an itinerary, rather than last.

I gave my talk on Shackleton this morning, and nobody can believe they survived these oceans in a life boat, in May of 1916. Admittedly, he also took the route of the wind and current from Elephant Island to South Georgia. A very smart move, but there were no alternatives. It was go for broke. Do or die. There are many guests reading about Shackleton. My habit of opening the outer doors to the theatre and letting in cold, fresh air is going to take some getting used to. I had many guests ask why the doors were ajar, and did I know how cold it was, as if I couldn’t possibly have noticed! I reminded those who were sleeping at the end of the lecture why I open the outer doors prior to my talks…

The guests on this voyage are extremely enthusiastic on almost all matters. The photography lectures have been full, my lecture was full, and many are out in the elements with the naturalists learning to identify birds and improve their photography.
Dealing with folk like these is a privilege, all keen to get as much as possible from this experience. One aspect on the ship that astounds me is the laundry. I usually get clothes back in 18 hours, spotlessly clean and beautifully ironed. If I am fortunate enough to come again, I will only bring one pair of shorts. Most land-based laundromats take 48-96 hours to complete one’s laundry? Once I went to a well known store in Pietermaritzburg requesting a part for an appliance. It had to come from their warehouse in Durban. When I asked how long it would take, they said 10 working days. I asked if they were serious, they said yes. I countered saying I could get something delivered from Anchorage, Alaska to my home address in Howick in 10 working days.
Perversely, with the connections involved, it takes many of our guests as long to get home in the USA as it takes me to get home to South Africa. The 18-hour haul from Istanbul to Buenos Aires, via Sao Paulo, is not to be recommended, unless one flies out on 23 November and Omicron Covid news breaks on 24 November with commensurate border closures! Skin of my teeth really…

Oftentimes I pinch myself at the good fortune bestowed upon me to be here. Our team comprises a Brazilian, two Argentine’s, a Uruguayan, a Falklander, a Costa Rican, three Brits, four Americans, a Mexican who now resides in Austria, and two other South Africans (Cobus and JD from Pretoria). With a KZN farming background, it really is almost inconceivable to be working on an Expedition Team like this one. Due to the appeal of this vocation, I try to make myself as useful as possible, ready to lecture or Recap at very short notice, and being prepared to do anything required of me. There are thousands of folks dying to have our jobs. For those aspiring to work on Antarctic Expedition Teams, the opportunities have never been better, since many companies are building/launching new expedition ships, all of which require staffing. A good start is the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Powerboat Level 2 qualification, and then as much experience driving Zodiacs as you can get. Most companies want one to be qualified to drive Zodiacs alongside your specialist skill.

I sat with some members of the team at dinner, and we had a lively discussion regarding our perceived differences between weird, eccentric, wacko and batshit crazy!
After dinner we spent some time mopping the Reception area since large waves have forced water past the metal (bad weather ) doors and wet the floor extensively. In a short while we turn across the prevailing waves as we round the top of South Georgia. There is going to be sports. Toiletries secured, and all loose/breakable items to be carefully stowed in cabins. As the good doctors in Hilton would say “whilst you are mincing around in the Antarctic”…

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