Day 8: Humpbacks and the polar plunge

After lunch this day, as we sailed to our next destination, we encountered a bunch of humpback whales that swam all around the front of our ship, like they were playing with us. For at least 15 or 20 minutes they swam and jumped, over and over, showing off their beautiful tails. It was totally incredible.
How you spot a whale: blow. Different whales, according to our whale expert, Jimmy, have different types of blow, so you (well, HE) can identify the type of whale just from the blow.


A bunch of happy passengers

Some of the whales were THIS CLOSE to our ship. Remember Tom, who I told you takes as many pictures as I do? That’s him practically on top of the whale. AMAZING.
And the sun finally came out!

Then we reached Useful Island, which the team had chosen for the site of our polar plunge. (How do they choose? I do not know. The previous two days Alex had mentioned that we might do it that day, but for whatever reason, it got postponed both times. I thought if we kept putting it off we were going to have to polar plunge in the Drake, but luckily, we found a good spot this day.)

Alex announced over the PA that it was time and to come on down to the gangway as soon as you were ready. The water was a balmy 3 degrees Celsius—about 37 F—which was warmer than I was expecting. The outside air was about the same.

Jeff, Allen & I left the cabin at different times, as soon as we each were dressed in our swimsuits, and thus we ended up in totally different places in line. The gangway is not very large, so people lined up in the order they arrived, snaking down the hallway and leaving room for the drenched folks who had already jumped to walk past us.


Line of people waiting their turn for the polar plunge

Vodka shots when you got back on after your jump. (That’s Absolut Sea Cruise Edition Vodka. Google tells me this special edition bottle is available on various Caribbean cruises. Antarctica, too, apparently.)
The view as we jumped.
Allen & Jeff going in. One of the Quark team was positioned in a zodiac where he could photograph us as we jumped. Jeff wore his GoPro. I’ll post his video later.
A fellow passenger who was up on deck took this shot of my jump.

They sent us down one person at a time on the gangplank. Jeet (the doctor) was at the door of the ship. There were two guys at the bottom of the plank. One fastened a harness on me. And then I said, “So I just jump? Like, whenever I’m ready?” The hardest part for me was the moment before…making the decision to actually jump. But then I did it, and I yelled out, and I jumped in. What struck me wasn’t even the cold, it was the salt.

I jumped in, came up, immediately turned around and started trying to figure out how to get out. It was over pretty fast (I’ve seen the video Jeff took) but it felt longer.
Came back up the gangplank, someone handed me a towel and then a shot of vodka. Overall, not as bad as I thought it would be.

All in all, 36 of the 117 passengers on our trip did the polar plunge. Two of the guys went to the back of the line and did it a second time.

After this, we showered, had the recap and dinner, and then did a landing on the actual continent after dinner…which was one of my favorite landings of all. (But it’s hard to rate them, really, because every single one of them was amazing.)

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