From January 21 to February 13, 2013, John ventured on a voyage into the Ross Sea to visit Ernest Shackleton’s or Robert Scott’s expedition huts, both British explorers racing to be the first to land at the South Pole in the early 1900s. In Tasmania, he boarded the Orion, an ice cutting ship that transports a select number of tourists and scientists to the Antarctica region. The trip at sea was 24 days and ended in New Zealand. As a dedicated adventurer of treks into remote and uncivilized corners of the world, he has long desired an adventure at sea. Here are his first impressions of the voyage from his journal. The trip is chronicled for each new experience as the ship progressed through the ice to the Ross ice shelf and Captain Robert Scott’s hut.
“We are now two full days and one half at sea. Until this afternoon the sea wasvery calm and it was sunny. Now the waves are much bigger,white caps everywhere. The wind is whistling where I sit in the bow lounge on the sixth or top deck. No one is outside as it iswindy and has gotten pretty cold. The ship’s stabilizers are amazing. Despite the somewhat heavier seas and flying spray, it keeps it bouncing no more than a speed boat. I’m so far not having any issues with the motion. Actually, I’m loving it. I’ve just come in from sitting outside on the back deck, which is mostly sheltered from the wind, watching the waves and the three albatrosses that are soaring just over the waves behind us. Quite a show.”
“Now the journey back to land and there is a change in mood and expectations for me. I have learned from this trip that the unexpected isthe adventure andthat accounts for some extraordinary sights like today. The light streaming through the window was so intense it was blinding. For the first time in at least a week, we had sunny, blue sky. Simultaneously, we were looking at a sea of closely packed ice pads (called growlers) with amorphous sculptural forms spread across thetop of each one. It was as if Henry Moore had been turned loose to decorate an ice garden. The interplay of the brilliant light reflecting off the ice, the blue sky, the greyish blue ocean and the streaks of white clouds was glorious. It reminded me of the top of Mt. Rorima except done in ice (as I write this, the sun has reemerged after disappearing for the rest of the day). Near the sun in the sky is one small cloud that somehow has been turned into a tiny rainbow. This place is amazing. Again, we awoke a group of penguins, and again they waddled and scooted away and fell into the ocean. A few minutes later, we woke up two seals. They looked at us, decided we were a little too weird for their liking and began the undulating crawl away from us. They got to the edge of their ice pads, however, and it appeared that going into the sea, which is at about 30 degrees here, was not too their liking either. So they hesitated, looked back at us going by and dropped back down into sleeping mode.”