12 January 2015 | 62 31'S:59 47'W, Antarctic Peninsual
The weather continues to be good for down here, light wind, mostly cloudy, temperature a little below to a little above freezing. We are making our way north to the planned flight out tomorrow from King George Island to Punta Arenas in Chile. Depending on weather, we take advantage of the best options for outdoor exploration. Two days ago in beautiful flat water conditions, we kayak circumnavigated Enterprise Island. This is a location of former whaling operations, including a sunken 210-ft steel whaling ship that is partly exposed and to which we moored overnight. Also on that kayak trip we experienced an ice-fall tsunami, where a chunk of ice calved off of a glacier nearby and created a large wave, but fortunately we were in deep water at that moment and it was just a smooth, large ride (if taken bow-on). Here we did our only camping excursion, on an island of about 30 feet elevation (plus 20 of snow). Nice to get out of the boat for the whole night, watching Antarct ic terns defending their nests from the kelp gull attacks.
While motoring north through Murray Channel between Graham Island and the continent we had the best whale feeding show ever. Two slow moving humpback whales were feeding on krill, and seemed unperturbed by our presence. We could see the whales circle deep and blow bubbles, which apparently concentrates the krill in a group that makes for a more fulfilling mouthful. We drifted around there for over an hour, freezing our little shutter fingers off.
It's about over now. S/V Australis is the best of the handful of charter yachts that work in Antarctica, with hot fresh water showers, semi private cabins, lots of capacity, and a courteous and well seasoned crew. A sailing experience this was not, and given the territory, probably for the better. She is a tough, heavy steel vessel with a modest mast and sail plan, which provided some roll stability and economy when conditions permitted. Certainly this was a much more intimate Antarctic experience than a cruise ship, and we are totally thrilled with the experience!