|Sunrise 0554 , sunset 2047
This will be my last diary entry. After 3,881 nautical miles, enduring a strongest wind of 64 knots, a biggest swell at 9 metres, a maximum list of 33 degrees starboard, the lowest air temp of minus three degrees C and minus one degree sea water, we berthed in Hobart early this evening, but will stay on the ship overnight and disembark officially in the morning. I was able to get off the ship tonight after dinner and spend a few hours with Rob and Ellen who had come to Hobart to meet me.
This morning we went on a tour of the Bridge (Deck 5). Don't know why, but I must admit I was a bit surprised by all the sophisticated technology. Everything is automated, little room for error, which is very reassuring. Because it is highly concentrated work, the Bridge Crew work four hours on, and eight hours off. The rest of the day has been taken up with preparing for disembarkation and a final briefing and slide show from the Expedition team. Everyone was in fine spirits for the final dinner tonight, as tomorrow we all head off back to our 'other' life.
As I end my Antarctic Adventure, what I take away from this trip are many things.
The human endurance of the early Antarctica explorers was quite remarkable. We have it so good these days. Back then no sat sav, mod cons, proper balanced food intake, suitable equipment etc etc. Just an incredible sense of adventure, and a determination (perhaps for some a bloody mindedness) to conquer new horizons.
In Antarctica, the weather dictates everything, and the unpredictability of the weather leaves planning anything in a highly fluid state.
The beautiful, pristine environment and wildlife of Antarctica has to be protected and in a small way there are things each and every individual can do to protect our environment.
I will always remember seeing my first iceberg; being introduced to wildlife I have never seen before; the sounds and the smell of the penguin rookeries (however horrible); watching the sea lions go about their daily life on the beach at Enderby Island as if they didn't have a care in the world; the magnificent albatrosses gliding beside the ship for hours; standing on Antarctica; watching an Antarctic sunset as we glided through the icebergs; sailing through the pack ice; the excitement of visiting Mawson's Hut and seeing and imagining what life 95 years ago was like; visiting Cape Jules - a location that perhaps less than 1,000 people on this planet have ever visited; experiencing a katabatic wind; the beautiful views from places like Land's End at Cape Denison; the surreal life cocooned onboard a cruise ship; even enduring the Southern Ocean seas (however unpleasant and somewhat terrifying), was all part of the experience. I feel privileged to have been able to visit this fragile and remarkable part of the world.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this travel diary as much as I have enjoyed writing it.