Iceberg Boat Cruise
At long last, and about two months later than usual, the fast ice around Davis Station blew out to sea. Having clear access to the wharf, the boat ramp and the water means the Zodiac Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) can be used. Don’t mistake the word ‘rescue’; these are mainly used for science and recreation. In this instance, the good weather and low winds allowed me to be a part of the first iceberg cruise of the season.
The iceberg cruise is an experience looked forward to by expeditioners at all stations. The ‘bergs are quite stunning to look at from the shore, but up close they take on a new kind of interest. I’ll show you first hand in this week’s blog!
Here you can see the process for boarding the IRBs. First they’re launched from the boat ramp, then we climb down the wharf ladder and we’re good to go. Note that we’re rugged up thoroughly as sitting still in a boat can lead to getting cold very quickly. We’re wearing Mustang suits, which provide warmth and buoyancy as well as having cinches on the wrists, ankles and thighs to minimise water ingress in a similar manner to a wetsuit.
Here’s my colleague in full kit. I have a blog post planned for the various interesting facets of keeping warm, but for now I think it’s funny how much we look like snowboarding ninjas at times.
It’s a bit of a burn from station out to the first of the island, and then out to the icebergs. The first couple of kilometres, where the islands are, is clear and easy. After that we slowed down and carefully worked out way through the growlers and bergy bits (small chunks of ice and mini icebergs respectively).
I’m not sure there’s much to say about these. The photos don’t do the real thing justice. The one odd thing was that they actually looked smaller and less imposing up close, though certainly no less beautiful or impressive.
There’s no set route that must be taken for the boat tours so we were free to stop whenever we found something interesting. Or, indeed, change course and head for anything exciting we found on the way. One of the highlights was the little bergy bit that was almost like a penguin ship. None of them cared that we were nearby, so we stayed there for a couple of minutes watching and taking photos.
We also stopped by one of the known penguin rookeries in the area. It’s amazing to see just how many of them occupy a small area. We all had a good chuckle as one of the lively youngsters playing a game of ‘chase other penguins around’ stopped chasing other young penguins and started chasing one of the adults instead. Said adult seemed most put out by it, but it went on for a few minutes while we all cackled.
All too soon, it ended. It seemed like only a few minutes that we were gone, but it was more than two hours in the real world. I can’t really think of much more to say than how breath-taking it was. No photo can really show how primal and brutal, yet amazing and beautiful, the place is in all ways. Still, I hope you can get at least some of that from these photos. Until next time… 🙂