Posted by: Andy | May 9, 2014

Arriving in Antarctica with Infinity Expedition, strangers in the night!

Some days in life stick in your memory like no others. For me, one of my most memorable days was arriving in Antarctica with Infinity Expedition.

 

After 2000NM, and almost three weeks since last sighting land, we finally saw Antarctica. Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see the seventh continent; dramatic mountains blend with glaciers which themselves blend with icebergs and ocean alike. Birds fly overhead whilst penguins and seals share ice drifts. To top it off, a pod of over twenty Orca was our official welcome party. This not only captivated the entire crew for hours but beat any customs officer who normally ‘welcomes’ visiting yachts.

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Arriving in Antarctica under sail, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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Part of our welcome party, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

We anchored off Ridley Beach where a strong current was sweeping chunks of ice past us. With the dinghy in the water, and having defrosted the frozen fuel lines in a bucket of hot water, we were on our way ashore. The entire beach was lined with car sized lumps of ice. The problem was trying to find a safe landing spot. With each wave, all the lumps of ice would move, sometimes quite considerably, and we didn’t want to get crushed or damage our tender.

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Infinity at anchor at Ridley Beach

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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The locals hanging out at the beach, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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The Borchgrevink hut, oldest building in Antarctica, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

Being on land for the first time in weeks is always a novelty, add thousands of penguins and seals to the equation and suddenly you are drunk of life! Ridley Beach is one of the largest penguin rookeries in the World and we were sharing it with tens of thousands of Adelie penguins. Walking along the beach meant bypassing several seals and close encounters with swooping birds.

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Shameless selfie with some penguins

One thing the guide books don’t mention is the stench. Since it gets so little precipitation, Antarctica is a desert. If you didn’t already know, animals don’t use toilets. Combine this with almost zero rainfall, cold temperatures and slowly rotting corpses and you have a serious reek!

 

Visiting the Borchgrevink hut, from 1899, is a real treat. It isn’t every day that you get to go in the oldest building of an entire continent! Stepping inside is like going back to the nineteenth century. The hut and its contents have been preserved and remain the same as a hundred years ago. From old newspaper cuttings to original medicines and supplies, not forgetting old graffiti, the hut is incredible. Add to this its history and you realise what a special place it is. The team that stayed here were the first to winter in Antarctica, they also suffered the first human death on the continent and their expedition was the first of the British Antarctic Survey (despite the team comprising mainly of Norwegians!)

 

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Back aboard Infinity, we were all reflecting on our incredible day. I was on deck when I heard the distinct noise of approaching outboard engines. This was strange since we were in one of the most remote places on Earth. Upon closer inspection I could see the faint outline of a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) approaching with what looked like three black clad Navy Seals in it. “Er Captain, you had better have a look at this, I think we are about to be boarded.” Seconds later a concerned Captain came up on deck. Only as the RIB got really close did we see the logo of the Sea Shepherd.

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Our surprise visitors!

If you have been living under a rock, the Sea Shepherd protect the Worlds Oceans from the planets most deadly predator; mankind. Amongst other campaigns, the Sea Shepherd protect whales in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The Japanese have a hideous “scientific” research programme that involves a kill quota of around a thousand whales a year. Interestingly, not a single scientific paper has been written and much of the mercury laced whale meat ends up in Japanese school canteens (maybe that is instant karma?).

 

With our new friends aboard, we quickly hatched a plan to disrupt the Japanese Whalers but you are going to have to come back in a few days to find out what happened……..

 

In the meantime, if you are bored, be sure to check out my friends blog at http://tourdumondeaudreyetpascal.blogspot.ca they have more photos and stories of our time in Antarctica. For details of Infinity Expedition and their ongoing adventures, check out their website at www.infinityexpedition.org .


Responses

  1. Loved your blog and the posts you share and this one’s well written.
    (Regards: http://www.scientificbeast.wordpress.com)

    • thanks for your comment, let me know if human hibernation ever becomes a reality! would be great for ocean crossings!

      • Will keep you updated!

  2. […] what have I been up to since I last blogged in March 2014 (just after my Southern Ocean and Antarctica adventure)? Not much, but lowlights […]

  3. best trip of my life… with Infinity Expedition

    • but maybe the North West Passage will beat it!

  4. Amazing blog Andy. Your adventures on Infinity look incredible. Looking forward to the next instalment!

    • thanks, you should meet up with Infinity Expeditions when you are in the Pacific! They have been in the Pacific for the last 15 years so they know a lot about it and Im sure would only be too happy to help if you had any questions! Fair winds!

  5. […] Andy’s Infinity Expedition Review is here […]


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