Day 5: Zodiac cruise

After we had sailed south of the circle, we were hoping to do a landing at Detaille Island, but there turned out to be too much ice to reach it. So instead, we dropped anchor near there in Crystal Sound and did some scenic cruising in the zodiacs after brunch.

We spent about an hour and a half cruising around among the ice and the wildlife. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and very little wind.
Inside the zodiac. Adrian the bird expert was driving it, and you can see his camera is out and sitting on his bag next to him. That’s how I knew it was safe to get out my camera.
Arches in the ice look really cool, but they aren’t safe to sail under because they could collapse at any time.
Quark had hired this French videographer, Hugo, to record some promo videos during our expedition. By the end of the trip, he had already put together a first cut of his video, and they showed it to us on the last night. It was awesome! It will eventually be online.
He got to go out in his own zodiac to get the footage he wanted.


Our ship and some other zodiacs in the distance



Fur seal, looking to me a lot like a wet rat



Crabeater seals, which aren’t found much farther north than this

Whales will come up to pieces of ice like this and try to knock the seal (or seals) off by diving under one edge of the ice and coming up to rock it. We didn’t witness this on this trip, but the guides told us they’d seen a group of whales work together for quite a while to rock a seal off the ice. (And sometimes the seal still manages to get away.)


Cauliflower iceberg?

We were able to get pretty close in our zodiacs…I shot these seals with my 24-70mm lens, not the long telephoto.
Approaching the ship at the end of the zodiac cruise. You can see the zodiac ahead of us unloading.
We’d been hoping to sail through a very narrow channel called the Gullet that afternoon. Alex had told us the night before that they’d been unable to see the area from the satellite photos from the past week because it had been cloudy, so they weren’t sure how much ice there was. He’d warned that there was a good chance that it would be choked with ice and we wouldn’t be able to get through, but we were going to try anyway.

And as it turned out, once we got there, there was, in fact, too much ice. We were still heading further south, but now we had to go out and around some islands, so we did not have an afternoon landing this day while we were repositioning.

When he made this announcement over the PA system, I was a little relieved, actually, because I was so freaking exhausted; I just wanted a nap. (But I didn’t want to miss anything! It was so hard to decide to sleep!) We had a light lunch at 2 in the afternoon, and then I headed to my cabin to sleep. Allen was in there resting, too, and as I stripped down to just one layer of long underwear, I said to him, “Since I’m taking all this off, something exciting is bound to happen outside.” Sure enough, about a minute after I’d crawled under the covers, Alex came over the PA system to announce that we were about to pass by a particularly impressive iceberg that we would not want to miss, and in fact the captain was going to circle around it 360 degrees so we could get the best possible views. I said, “I KNEW IT!” But I stayed in bed. I hated to miss it but I was so, so tired.

I basically slept the rest of the night. I woke up and went to dinner but after dinner I went right back to bed and slept until the morning wake-up call. I don’t know what was happening on the rest of the ship, but I needed that sleep.

The next day…the farthest point south we would go. But first…I think I’ll write about how the zodiacs worked.

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