17 March 2020
We were lucky to have a beautiful clear day to paddle in the Errera Channel where we had a visit from a Minke whale circling our kayaks! The wind picked up in the late morning, which was a good test of our paddling skills, and we were pleased to reach land for our visit to Danco Island.
The afternoon excursion to Neko Bay gave us our first steps on mainland Antarctica! For many of our new friends on the ship, this was a time to celebrate making it to their seventh continent.
Exploring Wilhelmina Bay and Portal Point in low lying cloud the following day was a striking contrast to the bright skies experienced at Danco Island and Neko Bay. Paddling between the giant icebergs, which stretched on forever and into the cloud was an eerie experience. The water was very still, with a satin-like sheen, in a deep blue almost black colour. It was a moving experience paddling in such a stunning, mysterious yet serene landscape. The silence and still waters were only interrupted by the calving of icebergs, a massive roar of crashing ice, sending a chaotic series of waves bouncing around the area for a good few minutes after.
It also happened to be Owain’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than taking a quick dip in the 2.6 degree Celcius ocean! The Polar Plunge was definitely a highlight, with most of the ship passengers lining up to jump off the gangway for a crisp swim, celebrated with a round of drinks afterwards, of course.
Portal Point marked our last landing on the Antarctic Peninsula, and provided stunning 360-degree views over the water. It was a beautiful place to sit and reflect, looking out over the ocean, snow falling, thinking about what an incredible, important, breathtaking place Antarctica is.
Written by Inspiring Explorer Ihlara McIndoe