First came the Drake, than the glorious arrival, followed by a day of sunshine and exploring, two days of extreme wind and extreme surprises, and now two days of calm beauty, passages and landings close to how Antarctica often is imagined. Suddenly, on the morning of the 23th – it was calm. And sunny. All first plans worked out and they did so without hesitation.
It was sunny, bright, calm and we could see the mountains towering around us. The snow on the deck melted, we climbed up in the mast and out on the bowsprit and continued our way South without changing around. The last two days brought us through Graham passage, Wilhelmina Bay, on to a landing on the continent itself ( and a swim!) in Orne Harbour, to Cuverville island with the Gentoo penguins, past Eclipse point, through Lemaire, all the way to Winter island.
Just two days and again a whole other voyage. Tonight we are anchored close to Vernadsky station. A place that is about as far South and as far away we will get from home, and at the same time a place with more elements from that same home than we have met the last 10 days. We have seen the occasional cruise ship – or cruise ships – passing us at night with their bright lights, surprising us during the day with their immensity. But these are other worlds – they stay a curiosity, an extreme difference from the 56 meter we inhabit.
Here at Vernadsky we are closer - even without visiting the station this year, just like last year. Today from our anchorage we see 3 smaller yachts safely at their mooring lines between the islands. We visited Wordie hut – where people were living from 1947 to 1954, actually living. We see others, other people walking on the neighboring snow covered island. And we see the Ukrainian flag over the station. We have been moving through lots of new impressions for a while now. Tonight we stay at anchor. No maneuvering through the ice tonight, no heeling in strong winds, not the sound of the engine or the silence of the sails.
It reminds us of the last slide of one of our official IAATO briefings long ago on the swell of the Drake. That slide read : Remember to take some time to simply stop and reflect on Antarctica. And that is exactly what we do tonight, here at Winter island, about halfway our voyage.