Archive for the ‘Icebergs’ Category

Spinning Yarn: How Far toChristchurch? #95

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Leaving the ship was not a complicated as it could have been. We said all our passenger goodbyes the night before and had only to wait for our bags to be put on the dock. Some passengers had hotel reservations for Dunedin, some had planes to catch, others had more local sightseeing to do…And me? Well I needed to hire a car – one way —to Christchurch.

The car rental company I spoke to before I left Melbourne told me to call them when I arrived in Dunedin – and I did – but they were not open for the public holiday! Nor were they available the next day, so I boarded Orion without having booked a vehicle. Upon our return, a Saturday morning, I called again. They were open this time, but sorry, they do not do one way trips. (They could have told me that in Melbourne!) Obviously, I was not happy, but I was not worried, either. …..Faith…..

 Out on the wharf, the car rental companies and taxis waited for us to farewell the Expedition Team, lined up to wave us off and give us our parting gift of a  souvenir photographs CD. The Lady from the local rental company very kindly drove me to the tourist bureau, where another learned lady located the rental car I was to have – right in town! Within 40 minutes of leaving Orion, I was back on the road and away on the next leg of my adventure – A drive up the East Coast of South Island.

 Maybe I should have asked for a map…..Nah…..

Spinning Yarn: Back on Board, Never Bored! #87

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Returning to the ship, we made sure to walk through the bucket of anti-germ wash.

With all those penguins, and Sea Elephants and seals, it would be so easy to step in something unpleasant, unwittingly bringing it aboard. That would never do!

 Back in the rooms, we removed the lifejackets and the boots and the coats, hats, mittens and cameras, changing into something more comfortable for the afternoon tea that awaited us. Yes, it was time to eat yet again! And you know – you really build up an appetite with all this fresh air and walking, so it was most welcome (as well as delicious) especially the hot drinks.

 We awaited the day’s briefing….

Spinning Yarn: Polar Plunge #77

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

 Anyone for a swim? Brash Ice is very refreshing…..

 Yes, there were some of us that dared to defy reason and sanity, donning bathing suits and safety harness, to “close encounter” the Southern Ocean. Just to say we had done it, I suppose. Wrapped in thick dressing gowns before the plunge, candidates lined up on the marina deck of the ship in preparation for being buckled in to the snatch straps, and to face the deep COLD COLD ocean.

 Cries of “Yeaaahh” resounded on the deck as each person launched from the platform. Cries of “Eeeeeww” echoed back from the upper deck as the rest of us wore their splashes.

Once fished out, the icicles broken off bodies and back into the dressing gowns, the Hot Chocolate was very welcome, as were the warm showers before dinner.

 Back in the warm, in the Lounge, those of us who recorded the event were busy swapping photos and angles ….Smart of me to take photos….

Spinning Yarn: Where the whale was #76

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Brash Ice is, apparently, a good place to find whales doing their hunting. They travel parallel to the trail of breaking ice looking for stray penguins, fish, unsuspecting tourists…. They did not find us, however. (Heheheh)

 All of us had our cameras at the ready, to make a photographic connection with the huge and graceful creatures, but all we found was an old wooden mallet floating, mysteriously, close to the edge of the Brash, which we rescued. We also found a huge piece of Styrofoam – where did that come from?  — which we auctioned off for the Mawson’s Huts Foundation that evening after dinner.

 Some of us were able to spot a whale tail as it followed its owner back into the deep, but, Gee, you had to be quick with the camera….

 PS: Our after-dinner cocktails sported ancient (Black) ice cubes…taken from the Southern Ocean and digested happily in this Century.

Spinning Yarn: Who can see the B9B? #74

Monday, March 28th, 2011

 I asked Harry, from the NZ Department of Conservation who was with us on board, if the quality of the ice is ever tested, and does it indicate any impurities, or age, or anything else. His reply was that the ice is tested, most of it to be found quite pure.

He also explained that Antarctica is divided into quarters (A, B, C, D) and the icebergs are named for their quarter of origin, tracked in their movements and recorded for size and distance traveled.

 There are 2 currents around Antarctica – they flow in opposition to each other, and the icebergs travel according to which current catches them. The B9B has originated in B quadrant, the 9th piece to break off and “B” because it split from “A”. What size must “A” have been?


Spinning Yarn: Ice Blocked! #73

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

 The summer ice Antarctica may well be at the lowest annual level and distance from land, but it is still present and it pays to be ever watchful, not only with eye but also with satellite and radar and all the modern navigation and positioning equipment. Originally planning to visit French Antarctica at Dumont D’urville (about an inch around the coast to the right of Cape Denison) the plan was abandoned due to inaccessibility – they were iced in!

 So was Cap Jules.

 Plan C was the B9B Iceberg, second largest in the world at 100kms long and 6 stories high. Not only can you not miss seeing it, you cannot see all of it all at once…..

 Its form is large and cold and dramatic. The wind was blowing the soft snow off the top, giving the impression of smoke. The colours were amazing – blues, greens, turquoises, jades, gunmetal grey at water level –  and its lines of growth quite visible even from our parking spot in the distance.

Spinning Yarn: The Sun Comes Out #72

Monday, March 21st, 2011

 For our visit, God had blessed us with TWO days of mild weather and no wind. We saw and experienced the Cape in its most welcoming behaviour, loving every minute. As we were preparing to leave on the next part of the trip, the sun broke through the overcast cloud cover and painted with light some of the icebergs in the bay.  All of a sudden, the Bay became the focus of our attention, the playful penguins and somnolent seals were spotlit on Nature’s icy stage, in full view of the 100 passengers and their cameras.

 The Orion weighed anchor and began to move around to the edge of the Bay, making progress towards the next point of interest, the B9B iceberg, one day away, while we the passengers took our evening meal out on the back deck, in the full Midnight Sun.

Spinning Yarn: Through the Rookeries #63

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

 We reached the end of the cliff face, and paused. The vista before us was breathtaking.

On a mirror sea, the small shore ice floated calmly, watched by the blue-ice cliffs over loaded with the weight of heavy snow. Under a gunmetal grey sky, the picture was one of calm, the palette of colour all in tones of glowing ice blue. The peace broken only by the gurgling of the penguins.

 Beside the cliff and just before the edge, a group of penguins gathered around their dead mate, demanding of me an answer – what I was going to do with him? Nothing, guys- just look and study the feathers – No, they are not spinnable…..

 Taking leave of the multitude of Adelies at that spot, we continued on our way around the cliff, through the rookery to the shore on the other side – a line of red penguins marching single file through the ranks of Adelies in their black and white suits….

Spinning Yarn: See Ice, Sea Ice #55

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

I had never thought there would be a difference in “species” of ice. Icebergs are great hunking masses of the stuff that has broken off an ice shelf, or glacier  and these are fresh water. Compressed snow. And they glow from the inside out. It is like a light has been placed inside and the power turned on. It is the most gorgeous, iridescent blue!  All the snow pressure has pushed out all the air trapped in the ice, so all that is left is pure water.

 Being Fresh water (ie: snow), the ice is not as dense and therefore floats higher in the ocean water.

 Pack ice, on the other hand, is frozen sea water – salty – and freezes at a lower and colder temperature than fresh water. It is also denser and sits lower in the water. (Maybe that’s where the saying of 9/10 underwater comes from)

 As we moved into the pack ice territory, We were told at the afternoon briefing, that we were not to concern ourselves about the banging and bumping noises and motion of the ship – we are on the ORION, not the Titanic…..

Spinning Yarn: The Ice Comes #53

Friday, January 28th, 2011

 Who would have thought that a whole shipload of passengers would be so excited at seeing some ice! This is the outside version and not the kind that floats in your drink.

100 passengers screamed in delight! The little bits of isolated pack ice became more frequent and closer together until we had a whole horizon of ice to view and snap with our cameras…

Told to look out for whales and birds, and wearing our new Expedition coats, we clung to the rails and breathed the cold air , all the time snapping pictures in the almost-setting sunset, and keeping our eyes on possible living movement.

 There is nothing else for miles, as far as our eyes can see—only us in our Blue ship –so where do the birds come from?