Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kayaking in Antarctica

The good news is that I have some very exciting vacations in WARM places coming up this fall... the bad news is that it's been eight months since I got back from Antarctica and I still haven't finished writing up that trip! So, I better get going. Today's post takes us back to November 25th, 2007, probably the most beautiful day of the entire voyage. And on this day, we were lucky enough to find a serene, picturesque harbor in which to kayak.

Normally, I hate kayaking. I'm way too paranoid that I'll tip over, and I am absolutely awful at paddling (or whatever the technical term is for: "trying to use the oars"). My husband and I discovered that kayaking was not my strength while stuck in the middle of rough waters near Thailand seven years ago--but that is another story for another time. Let's just say that he and I now have a silent understanding that I pretty much just sit there while he does all the work to propel us around.

But since the water in Antarctica will kill you in about 15 minutes, should you accidentally fall in, I was very, very wary about taking part in this little excursion. Everyone else was doing it, though... so I caved.

How they got us all into the kayaks was very cool. We would take the Zodiacs from the ship just like we always did for a landing, except this time we went to a slightly-underwater platform they had set up off the shore of Danco Island. There are two empty Zodiacs on either side of this platform. From the Zodiac full of passengers from the ship, two people climb over into one of the empty Zodiacs (a staging area, so to speak) and then slide their behinds across the top of the empty Zodiac into an inflatable kayak that's resting on the platform, and then they're off.

Here's the platform (as always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them):

Here's me chilliln' up in front (it was actually really hot out that day so all of my winter gear soon came off):

And here are a few scenic shots... one of another couple kayaking and one of the guide marking the boundary of where we were allowed to explore. Sometimes these guys would have a huge thermos of hot chocolate with them so you could pull up alongside and get a drink. Pure genius.

The shore of Danco Island was covered with penguins, and they were all doing this "March of the Penguins" sort of thing. In the picture below, you can see the reddish lines in the snow on the mountain... they call those "penguin highways" (the reddish-brown is from their, uh... well, you know). They pave the way for each other to get to the beach area, and then they just hightailed it back and forth along the water's edge, it was hilarious.

Here's a very, very short video we took of the penguins so that you can see what it looks (and sounds) like when they are all waddling in unison.

Some penguins would eventually find their way down to the water and then would show off... swimming under the kayaks and jumping up in the air around us. I REALLY wanted one to jump OVER us in the kayak, but I didn't have enough time to train them for that trick.

It had been a sunny, gorgeous day, and to just take in the beautiful scenery from that perspective was nothing short of breathtaking. This was my favorite experience of the trip.

- e

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your husband must be a REALLY great guy to do all of the paddling.