Day-3 (20 November 2018) – The Landing Day (or not)

Sunrise: 03:42 | Sunset: 21:49
Note: the actual writing of this journal happens onboard Hurtigruten’s MS Midnatsol ship the same day, but published later

​This is the day that everyone on the ship is waiting for. Stepping their feet in the land of ice and wind. For me, i’m just happy of the prospect that the sea swell would eventually subside once we enter the Antarctica peninsula and leaving the drake passage.

I went to bed at 8 pm last night and woke up early at 4-5am, getting ready for the day. To think about it, i feel a bit guilty about how i live my life on the boat. Blame the seasick, the only think i look forward are only breakfast, lunch, dinner, and lay on the bed. Isn’t it the very definition of LAZY?

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Situation on the deck-9, Top deck/open deck

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The planned landing/itinerary on Half Moon Island – First landing

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The grouping of the landing

​I enjoyed the class/lecture though (immensely). The lecture and the briefing as well, very much! But all i wanted to do is to neutralise my body position so i don’t feel the swell. And of course, most of the time i drifted to a short sleep short after i lay on the bed. In another word, i only eat and sleep in this boat during the drake passage journey. This is Exactly 180 degree opposite to what i had done two weeks earlier, when i explored Argentina and Chile and when i only slept for 5-6 hours and spent the rest of the day with walking, hiking, and other activities. In conclusion, i’m not really sure what i’m feeling about my life on the boat right now, but i’m trying to enjoy and participate on many classes as i can and learn many things about this frozen continent. But good food and good bed calling! And the seasick! Ugh!

Breakfast went dull, though i enjoyed the meal so much, followed by 11am class titled “being a seabird in Southern Ocean”, where i learned a lot what “seabird” is and where is Southern Ocean.

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some of the breakfast menu. My favourite: beans, scramble eggs, and potato wedges

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The part of the breakfast section i often avoid, since i like solid food in the morning, and i’m vegetarian
​There are 10,000 bird species and only 3% of them are seabirds. Sea birds are birds that spend almost most of their time on the sea, they feed and rest on the sea, and only go onshore for breeding. Some of the known seabirds are penguins, sea gulls, pelicans, and many others. The presenter was working for Canadian government for 30 years, and actively participate in research about birds and marine biology. So, it was a very informative class, and i really like that i got to learn so much about the physiology of the seabird and the many species they are. I really can’t show all the content or record the session since all of them are Hurtigruten’s property.

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two antarctic petrels follow along the boat
And then lunch time came, something i treasured. I loved the pasta and broccoli soup they had today, and they even make me vegetarian pizza. Also, i could not wait for my landing.

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Lunch, because foods are what i’m looking forward onboard, aside from landing

As i mentioned earlier, since there are almost 400 passengers, the landing is divided into several groups, and i got group number 11 (out of 12 groups). That means i got a “later” landing and it was scheduled at approximately at 18:15 pm, with the first landing starts at 14:30 pm.

After lunch, the view at the surrounding of the ship start showing some of the islands in Antarctic Peninsula, all covered by ice. It’s a brand-new panoramic view, after spending 36 hours of looking at endless sea of drake passage. The enthusiasm spreading across the boat. Soon after i heard the announcement that we pass an iceberg i went out from my room heading to deck 6, where we have access to the outside view. And as we approached Half Moon island, where our first landing would be made, more view appeared and it’s strangely beautiful. They are all white, of course, because it’s Antarctica.

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First sighting of the iceberg, Hello Antarctica!!!

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After 1,5 days in drake passage, it’s exciting to finally see something other than sea and waves

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i probably took hundreds picture of this single iceberg as this is the initial sighting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIfVklhFL8g

While the boat attempted to make a landing, i attended session called “Antarctica a land of rocks and ice – not all about the penguins” that was delivered by a geologist who happens to be an ex managing director of some oil company in Australia. The session basically highlighting Antarctica from geology point of view, what the island was like hundreds of millions of years ago. The rock structure and the geographical shift of continents in the world.

If nothing, it only makes me realize that geographical boundary and territory are manmade, nature keep shifting and changing and twisting and turning. We are living on what? An area that was not exist million years ago and probably won’t exist million years ahead. We are significantly insignificant compared to the power of nature and change.

At the same time the session begun, group 1 started the landing procedure using the tender boat. By the end of the geology session, group 3 was also called. But, since the sea swell was quite significant, the kayak and snow shoeing were cancelled. I went to deck 6 and deck 9 to get closer view of the surrounding islands and the sky was black, a trace of snow falling and the wind blows. I just hoped it’s getting better in time so i got to land.

While waiting for my landing time, i went back to my room and edited some photo (because of what? No wifi! Otherwise i would’ve texting with my mom and my friend). It only went for an hour before i heard another announcement that the rest of the landings are cancelled due to worsening sea swell and the captain has decided to put safety first and move the rest of the landing on the next island (south Shetland island). Wow nice!

​I guess no one can predict the weather, though i’m happy the seasick subsided, i’m not happy they cancel my landing! Then, my mind already shifted from the landing to the dinner. I can’t believe eating is my only consolation here on the boat! Never thought of that before, sheesh!

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i only got to look the half moon island, but did not make the landing.Few first groups made it and they saw some nice Gentoo Penguins
​Post landing-cancellation

After dinner, there was a briefing about the next-day plan, and an introduction about science program by Norwegian Polar Institute. During the next-day-plan briefing the program manager explained why she had to cancel the landing operation and showed how hard was it for the crew to help the landing due to strong wave and showed some pictures of how they struggled to get the tender boat on shore. Eventually she needed to make decision to cancel the whole landings.

She also explained the next-day plan, which is the stop at deception island. Situated at 62 deg-58W and 60-32S, deception island is a Strato volcano. This active volcano last erupted on 1969. There was scientist research base built on the island by Chile and British, but both were destroyed during the eruption.

​The shape of deception island was a circle and the ship need to make entrance to its narrow opening, and the landing will be very early in the morning. To watch the ship passing the island’s narrow opening we can see at 5:30 am in the morning. And then she continued on to explain the geology of the deception island.

The session was closed by a scientist working for Norwegian Government explaining how they deployed a tracking device to some penguins and monitor their movement and feeding pattern. By knowing its feeding pattern and the area, the team will know the area where they will search for krill, and that they can advise krill fisherman to avoid those areas.

i’m going to bed now, hoping tomorrow would be my day

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Dreaming of antarctica
Asana Kusnadi
I'm Asana Kusnadi from Semarang Indonesia. Some of my friends call me Mei, it is taken from my Chinese Name. I was born in Semarang, capital city of Central Java and lived there until I graduated from University. After graduated i worked in Sumatera island and it's been almost 9 years now i live in Riau Province

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