We had travelled many miles overnight from yesterday’s location on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula when we awoke this morning to a different vista, a new Antarctica. Snow was softly falling on a landscape already bedecked with fragile snow. A stillness dared the winds to blow.
Grinder Rock. The very name defies comfort or softness but what we found, when we boarded the fleet of robust Zodiacs to take a closer look, was calm and serene. We should have been cold in the below-freezing temperatures, but our attention and focus distracted from minor discomforts. Wildlife was seen, yes. Birds were seen, yes. And the ever-present penguins, the little tumble-down clowns of the Southern Hemisphere, were conspicuous in their hundreds.
During lunch, the ship repositioned to a nearby location, Cierva Cove. We saw whales, the ever-teasing Leviathans of the aquatic kingdom. We also saw Vikings! Yes, the famous Nordic sailors in the form of costumed members of the ever-pleasing Hotel Department. They had commandeered a Zodiac and were offering hot drinks to us intrepid Antarctic adventurers.
In the afternoon we enjoyed another cruise – different location – and simultaneously Steve, our resident historian, gave a presentation recounting the last months of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s visit to Antarctica aboard the vessel Quest, where he died on January 5, 1922, in Grytviken, South Georgia. A mere hundred years ago.