Le Boreal handles the 30 foot swells with ease
The Hotel Department produces delicious treats at teatime
Captain Marchesseau relates his harrowing tale of piracy in the Gulf of Aden
Le Boreal - January 12, 2012
At Sea, En Route to Antarctica
Temperature: 36° F
Wind speed: 30 knots
Cloud cover: 100%
Precipitation: Intermittent Rain
The storm peaked during the night. With sustained winds above 40 knots, and gusts to 60 knots, the ocean swell intensified with the largest waves topping out at 10 meters. We tried to sleep through all the rocking and rolling, with some of us succeeding more than others. With the time change during the night, many of us took advantage of the extra hour, and slept in a good bit before heading down to breakfast.
The first enrichment lecture of the day was given by Historian Bob Burton entitled, "Sir Ernest Shackleton: South Georgia's hero". Bob painted a detailed picture of the legendary man and explorer, covering Shackleton's role in various Antarctic expeditions. In particular, Bob covered Shackleton's leadership through the story of the fateful Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition from 1914-16, during which his ship Endurance became beset in the ice and was finally crushed, forcing the party to take to the ice itself. Now that we've been to South Georgia, and specifically to Grytviken where Shackleton is buried, we particularly appreciated Bob's excellent overview of this famous figure.
After a break for coffee, some of us headed up to the bridge to watch the waves crash over the ship's bow and onto the bridge windows. A few light-mantled albatrosses soared effortlessly in the high winds around the ship, escorting us south into Antarctic proper. We then reconvened in The Theater for a presentation by Geologist Jason Hicks entitled, "Antarctic ice: From icecap to growler". Jason explained the different processes that result in the formation of sea ice and glacial ice, and explained how ice cores in Antarctica can teach us a lot about what Earth's climate has been like over the past 400,000 years. It was a fascinating talk, which left us all very eager to get down to the ice to see it for ourselves!
The ship continued rocking and rolling over lunch, and a nap was on nearly everyone's list for the afternoon. Some of us napped in our rooms, while others inevitably drifted in and out of sleep over the documentary, "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure", shown on the big screen in The Theater.
Later in the afternoon, Naturalist Russ Manning told us about his experiences as a British Antarctic Survey base commander during his presentation, "20 years of living and working in Antarctica". Russ took us through a year in the life of someone working at an Antarctic base, providing us some real insight into what a challenging, but yet rewarding, experience it is to work in this part of the world. The stories were fantastic and Russ' passion for the Antarctic was contagious!
Captain Patrick Marchesseau rounded off the lecture program for the day with his extremely well anticipated talk, "Piracy and the hijacking of Le Ponant in the Indian Ocean". In his usual gripping manner, Captain Patrick took us through his experience as Captain on a ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates, and the negotiations and sidestepping that resulted in him safely getting his crew through what was clearly a very challenging situation.
At Recap, Naturalist Suzana Machado D'Oliveira Harker introduced us to the Beaufort wind scale, while Naturalist Rich Pagen spoke about the importance of underwater sound in the ocean. After a long day of ship motion, most of us retired early after dinner to rest up for what would hopefully be calmer seas tomorrow.