Shipboard Life! (Written on Jan 05, 2014)


The 2am “twilight” allows observation for whales 24 hours a day. Sleeping is definitely for later! Photo credit M. Jenner

The 2am “twilight” allows observation for whales 24 hours a day. Sleeping is definitely for later!
Photo credit M. Jenner

“Knock-knock-knock”  Hmmm, in the fog of sleep, my mind recognised that this was supposed to mean something…   “Yes, stupid, it’s your watch!” I told myself and quickly scurried to pull on my shirt, fleece pants and ugg boots.  It was a case of third time lucky for Simon to get my attention through my deep sleep, by rattling multiple times on our door.  Being 15 minutes late, he had already begun filling out our weather observations, but in my dawning wakefulness and noticing the very lightness of the sky, suddenly with a wee bit of panic I thought, well just how long did I sleep?  Simon had lots of room to give me heaps but he kindly refrained, maybe another time!

The pale yellow-blue “dawn” that filled the sky ahead of the vessel was deceiving – it certainly did not feel like midnight.  These “nights” going to be lots of fun!  While I monitored the sonobuoy with blue whale energy in the low frequencies and two sperm whales clicking from different bearings, I also noticed that the ETA to our waypoint is only 2D 22H!  The AT (Air Temp) at midnight was 3.10C and the SST was 2.10C.  Brrrr – DO NOT fall in the water.  Note to self.

At 0650am we changed course from 1800 to 2060, for a variety of reasons.  Firstly, we detected Antarctic blue whale calls from 2200 (over 500 nm from the ice-edge), rather than directly south of us, and thus a more south-westerly course puts Whale Song in a better direction, while shaving 200 nm of our transit along the ice-edge.  Secondly, by getting below the southern and second band of lows one must negotiate to get to the ice-edge, it seems we have travelled south enough that we can make a course with more west, rather than straight south.

The wind is on our aft starboard quarter, making the conditions very pleasant in the warm sunshine on the fly-bridge for observations.  However, the “quietness”, as in lack of cetacean sightings and also fewer bird sightings, made us hope and theorize that animals are already at the ice-edge and there we will find many-aplenty!  Here’s to hoping!  It has worked thus far!

“Fifty-six forty-two, we are now at St. Andrews in Scotland!” Simon compared our southern latitude with his known northern equivalent.  This comparison really emphasizes the difference between the continents and oceans of the two hemispheres.

Tasty chillie with Chinese cabbage soup and heaped spoonfuls of steaming rice, heated noodles and fried rice were welcomed as the crew changed watches and discussed the details of similarities and differences of the Sooty and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross.  Light markings reveal we have had the later, circling at random through-out the day as well, a Northern Giant petrel with protruding nares tubes.  Their soaring abilities continued to amaze, especially as they skimmed just above the water surface.

Noon Observations Jan 05, 2014

The soft, chocolaty-toned plumage of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, with contrasting white eye-ring, white beak line and white central tail, is my absolute favourite! Photo credit M. Jenner

The soft, chocolaty-toned plumage of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, with contrasting white eye-ring, white beak line and white central tail, is my absolute favourite!
Photo credit M. Jenner


Lat/Long: 570 05.4 S 1450 00.5 E

Dry Bulb Temp: 3.60C

Wet Bulb Temp: 3.50C

SST (Sea Surface Temp): 2.00C

COG (Course Over the Ground): 2060

SOG (Speed Over the Ground): 7.8 knots

Beaufort SS (Sea State): 3

WS (Wind Speed): 8-10 knots

WD (Wind Direction): SW

Swell: SSW 1.5 m and NW 1 m

Wildlife: Wandering Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Short-tailed shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Fairy Prion and Black-bellied petrel

WT: CPPN – 8

Antarctic Fact: Dogs were once widely used in the Antarctic for pulling sledges but they were banned from the continent by the Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection and the last huskies were removed in 1994.

Antarctic Slang: Kodachrome poisoning – phenomenon experienced by heavily photographed Antarctic wildlife such as Adelie penguins.

The 1230 sonobuoy deployment revealed sperm whale clicks and seals barking and shrieking.  Rob reckons that if you were a killer whale, you could just swim around listening for these yum-yum sounds!

With small patches of blue, in fact, only 1/8 (1 Okta), the remainder of the sky has stratocumulus, altocumulus and cirrostratus – the whole shebang!  “Well, we are just chouffing along nicely Mr. Jenner, this is wonderful” I commented, as we surveyed the beautiful seascape.  “Yep, Scott Reef is just over there!” said Mr. Jenner replied.  The calm blue sea and now increasingly blue sky, is not giving away any secrets.  Indeed, hidden, is the truth of its’ location.  Easily by the view, we could be approaching our favourite tropical reef – an ancient atoll situated 200 nm offshore in remote NW Australia.  The only detail indicating otherwise, is the near 45 degrees difference in latitude!

In the theme of appearing to be in the tropics, we are devising ways of consuming many hands of bananas bought in sunny Hobart.  More fried bananas will be on the menu, as per this mornings’ breakfast and as well, Curt and Tas individually wrapped bananas for a tasty frozen treat.  Soon we really will feel as though we are in the Banana Belt of the Antarctic!

By 1500 we have travelled 915 nm from Hobart and have 470 nm to go to the ice-edge.  Watching our GPS markers and our track-line moving on the chart into new regions has been seriously thrilling for both Curt and I.  Basically, everything is new, every day.  Just the way we like it, no LOVE it!

One of the things I have learned about southern passages thus far, is that the weather changes very quickly.  Clear skies and calm seas can be replaced within an hour, with full cloud cover and without apparent increase of wind.  Where does the cloud come from?

Our pre-dinner snack, while the guys bbq’d Resty’s Special Chicken/Vegetable and Beef/Vegetable kebabs, was a half round of delicious camembert cheese made in Hobart.  This reminded me of the nice time we spent there with several friends, namely Nick & Taff, Mike & Nadeena, Sarah & Andrew, Brian and Chris & Sally.  Curt and I appreciated your good old-fashioned Tassie hospitality – thanks!

Within 2 D 10 H, we will be at the ice-edge!  Happiness is… the thought of icebergs and concentrations of krill, whales, penguins and seabirds!


3 Responses to DAY 7 WAVES

  1. Avatar for Dani Rob
    Dani Rob January 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Hey Mich, Curt, Tas, Dale, Inday and co,

    I’m loving reading of your daily adventures, I can really picture what you are seeing (well my interpretation of it anyway!).
    Wishing you all the best for a safe, productive journey, with so many Antarctic blues that you lose count and go cross-eyed!
    Keep those photos coming.


  2. Avatar for Carrie
    Carrie January 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I feel almost as though I’m there with you all. Keep the blogs coming Mich. Loving them! 🙂

  3. Avatar for Vanessa and Peter
    Vanessa and Peter January 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Doing our daily check of your position. Peter very excited for when you get to ice!

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