Sea days are normally a time of rest, with late breakfasts and leisurely days dotted with presentations and catching up on sleep. This morning, however, would be the exception to the rule. At five o’clock in the morning, the announcement from the loudspeakers in our cabins beckoned us to the deck. To ease into the day after such an early wakeup, there was plenty of coffee, croissants, muffins, and other delectable treats to eat. But the main goal was to be on deck, and to gaze out past the stern, waiting for the sun to rise. This was not just any sunrise; this was to be a rare event indeed – a total eclipse of the sun.
It was to begin just before dawn, and as the sun rose over the horizon, the moon would have begun its task of obscuring the sun and giving us a view of a lifetime. We were ready, our solar glasses in hand, cameras dangling around our necks, hoping for the magical moment to inspire us with awe.
Some had made the journey to this remote area of the world as much to see this celestial event as the wildlife and ice of Antarctica. Alas, try as we did, we were under the hand of nature, and a thick layer of fog. It was a chance we took, for as frustrating as it is, no one has control of the weather. We had sailed so many miles, but today nature reminded us that she makes the ultimate decision of what happens and when. Even still, we stood on the deck, praying for a small miracle, praying for the fog to lift for just a few minutes. Miracles, however, are rare; and prayers go unanswered.
Today, the warmth of our spirits was not enough to burn away the fog. For a few short moments, spirits heightened, for the fog could not prevent the shadow of the eclipse from darkening the sky and returning the light of day back into the darkness of night. As we gave in to the inevitable fact that the eclipse had come and gone, we slowly returned to our cabins.
We had not succeeded, but we had not failed. If we have learned anything from the polar explorers who journeyed on these waters before us, success is not in the achievement of a specific goal, it is in the journey we undertake to get there. This morning would not be a blank page in our journals, just one with a different narrative than we had thought.
So, we continued. Good food and conversation would fill our day, programs by our naturalist staff would give us knowledge, rest would finally be something we could devote time to. Our expedition has not yet ended. There are birds to see, whales to marvel at, and the Falkland Islands to explore. We had a good day, and we are ready for more.