April - 2023 - Newsletter
I’m not sure where to begin this newsletter as my brain has been overloaded with the sights and beauty that is Antarctica. I am currently cruising through the fjords of Patagonia, Chile after the most amazing trip to the southern continent that took us below the Antarctic Circle (66 degrees 30 minutes South) into areas not often assessed due to weather conditions. However, our Captain had a window of opportunity and attempted to take us further south than usual. It meant three days at sea, crossing the notorious Drakes Passage. Yours truly is not a great seafarer and spent a couple of days, in both directions, locked down in the cabin. Mind you the return trip saw waves up to fifteen metres (50 feet) high and strong winds, so I was not alone. If you have ever suffered seasickness, you will know what I mean when I say you just want to be thrown overboard, anything is better than suffering nausea and balance issues. I started believing the ship would roll and sink, yep, Titanic and icebergs were in my thoughts. So, although the creative juices along with my appetite had well and truly dried there was still a little bit of overactive imagination working in my befuddled brain. But once in calm waters everything is forgotten as I breathed in the beauty surrounding me.
There are not enough adjectives to describe this place and the wildlife that calls Antarctica home. We got to see whales up close as they investigated our ship. Out in the Zodiacs we saw them dozing on the surface while fur seals played, and leopard seals hunted penguins. We visited penguin colonies, saw late offspring feeding from their mothers. Whether they grow and moult before winter hits is debatable. It brings home that nature is often cruel. We were surrounded by icebergs, large and small. It was amusing to watch smaller iceberg float past the ship with seals or penguins hitching a ride.
After eight wonderful days we slowly travelled north and came into a place that was bleak and inhospitable. Deception Island in Whalers Bay is a volcanic island that last erupted in 1969. It is one of the only places on the planet where ships can sail directly into the centre of a submerged caldera. I’m guessing by the name you know what occurred there. Apparently, whales were hauled onto the stony beach and cut up for their meat and oil. It closed in 1939, not soon enough for my liking, leaving behind a reminder of those awful times. I doubt there was a person not affected by the history of this sad place.
While walking the volcanic ash a story started pushing at my brain. What would it be like to live and work in such a place for a woman? To live with a bunch of men who apparently stank of whale. The accommodation looked rough and although the houses had seen better days would probably have been comfortable enough. The weather however was harsh. They had to leave before winter set in but even summer was cold and bleak. Could someone find romance in a place like this? It is an interesting thought and one I am pondering. Setting is important when writing a book and Whalers Bay is one hell of a location. It would be historical for those who love their history. So, I have plenty of research to do before I begin this venture. Watch this page for an update.
So now as I finish my trip in Patagonia and look at the beauty of the fjords and mountains I will close off from Antarctica and Chile.
Until then, stay safe.
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