Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Spinning Yarn: Majacraft MajaSponsor! #101

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The plan to take my spinning wheel to Antarctica, (fuelled by a dare from my brother), required a bit of research into the most convenient wheel to take. I had been looking at taking a wheel that was compact and very portable, but also one with endurance which was friendly to use, and my research led me to Majacraft, a New Zealand based company in the North Island – at Tauranga. When Glenis and Owen Poad of Majacraft heard about my trip to Antarctica, they wanted to be part of it, and so offered me the Little Gem.

 Made of New Zealand “Rimu” wood, each piece matched for colour and growth ring pattern, it is also modern is size and shape. It is an elegant wheel, by any standards. The polymer drivebands are guaranteed to a temperature of minus 30 for 20 minutes, which was ideal for me at my destination. Add to that the functional and compact carry bag, and it is a wheel for the most discerning Antarctic traveller!

Spinning Yarn: On the way to Christchurch #96

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Following the well marked highway, I viewed the spectacular coastline all the way to Palmerston, where I just had to stop and walk along the beach. Looking out over the Southern Ocean I raised my hand in a fond greeting to the Frozen Continent 4 days sail away and turned my attention to walking the tideline, where, tangled in the washed up seaweed, God gave me a Paua shell! Whole and complete! What a find! (I collect seashells, and have done since I was about 6years old, living in Nova Scotia).

 Under a bit of time constraints, I gave myself only an hour at the beach. The shell safely tucked in my pocket, I could hear the car, and the highway, calling me on to the next stop.

Spinning Yarn: Last night Entertainment #94

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

 Cathy and Terry, the entertainment coordinators, organized a show for us, using the multi-talented crews, both Ship and Expedition. Minimum resources brings out invention, and we marveled at the song, dance and acting skills of each and every person.

  The Expedition Team and the Ship Crew exposed their fun side and the fact that they too could spin yarns, when the re-written words to “I am Australian” became “We Shared Antarctica” and the costumes matched each person’s specialty as well as each verse! Alasdair McGregor became explorer Dumont D’Urville by draping tricolour cloth and wearing a simulated tricorn hat; Dr Alex Watson, draped in white cloth and properly coloured makeup around his eyes, became the only known species of Antarctic bird who wears glasses! David Sinclair donned his penguin hat and waddled around with his camera….

 The Zodiac drivers, the kitchen staff, the hotel staff all took part – lots of singing and dancing and wild applause! Most enjoyable and well thought. Such hidden talents behind the scenes!

Spinning Yarn: Campbell Island #92

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

 The high seas of the last few days had not abated by the time we reached Campbell Island, and it was not safe to take Orion into the harbour. We used the Island body to shelter on the lee side, and broke out the Zodiacs for a bit of an ocean run.

 Campbell Island is another Albatross colony cum sanctuary. There is one species, Dr Alex Watson told us, that lives only here. 

 The picture I took from the Zodiac, showing the rocky outcrop that stands off the coast of the island proper, circled by the “Campbell Island RAF”, shows a busy airport with flights arriving from all over the island, a variety of planes in all shapes and sizes, and an assortment of colours painted on the fuselages. Identity markings….

 The many birds were enjoying the edible bounty that the rough weather had brought to the surface, and the winds, and updrafts, playing with flying – circling and daring each other. I do not think that was my imagination! Birds dogfighting! What next!?

Spinning Yarn: Mismatching Plates #90

Friday, June 24th, 2011


Plate tectonics is the science of studying the movement of the Earth’s crust. We learned a bit about this on this trip.

 Macquarie Island, Campbell Island and New Zealand are all on the edge of the same plate, which is moving towards the Austral plate.  Usually one of the plates tucks underneath the other one, and slides below, but these plates are meeting edge on. The islands are a result of the meeting edge being lifted out of the water. Confirmed by geological study and observation, the islands are expected to move accordingly as the plates continue their journey.

 The whole area is volcanic. Antarctica itself is granite. The islands have visible and colourful layers of volcanic activity showing on the exposed surfaces and cliff faces. Age is apparent also, and it was good to have John McDonald with us to explain it all.

Spinning Yarn: Off to the Resort #85

Sunday, June 5th, 2011


 How many satisfied customers can one resort hold? I remember seeing photos of resorts where there are as many bodies at the beach as there are in the restaurant, as there are at the disco. Some of the holiday makers love to swim, or sunbake on the sand, or travel back to their rooms to get changed for the next activity. The area is fluid with tourists coming and going and relaxing; everyone does their own thing. Macquarie Island is no different —-not really. It is booked out, though.


Where's Wally?

Spinning Yarn: Calling All Rabbit Fur! #83

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

 It’s a pity that rabbits do not have blubber, they could be melted down instead…. You should see what they are doing to the island! It looks like a moonscape! Rabbits were introduced to the island as a way to feed shipwrecked sailors. Left alone for a few years, the rabbits multiplied so much that shipwrecked sailors could not keep up with the numbers – and even the skuas (Antarctic vultures) have trouble. Poison is the answer, and there is pallets of it ready to be distributed – just waiting for the right weather day.

 In the evenings, we had briefings on our progress, what latitude we were, how far we’d come, our speed, etc — all the statistics. We also shared the day’s best photos. Macquarie Island day had this great photo of two flying skuas fighting over a rabbit. Having just seen first hand the devastation these animals cause, a rousing cheer went up for these enterprising skuas. It put me in mind of a soccer game – Skuas 1, Rabbits ½ each!(or should that be Skuas ½ each, Rabbits 0)