Day four: November 23, 2013
When we woke up this morning, we realized that the Seabourn Quest was moving stealthily through a thick pea soup of fog. Although we couldn’t see much through the mist, the low visibility meant that we had calm seas as we continued to cruise south through the Atlantic Ocean.
Because we would be arriving in the Antarctic in just a matter of days, the Expedition Team organized a day of briefings and biosecurity checks for all of us on board. Expedition Leader Robin West spoke to us about IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and the regulations surrounding our landings on Antarctica. He also explained zodiac operations to us — how we would be disembarking the Quest, getting to our landing sites and returning to the ship as safely as possible. It was obvious that in typical Seabourn fashion, our ship’s crew had put a lot of thought into the operational side of things.
We were required throughout the day, to bring all of our outer layer clothing and gear to the Club so that various members of the Expedition Team could check it for seeds, grasses and soil. These so-called “Biosecurity Checks” were meant to ensure that none of us unsuspectingly bring any foreign objects into the Antarctic. Vacuums and disinfectants will become our friends throughout the next week, always ensuring that we do not bring any unwanted species into Antarctica, the last pristine wilderness on earth.
Of course, during all of the administrative processes, there were lectures and other activities to keep us busy. Photography Coach Wolfgang Kaehler gave an “Introduction to Photography in Antarctica.” Ornithologist Mariano Albano spoke about “Seabirds of the Southern Ocean” and Professor David Walton finished the day with a discussion on “Claiming the Continent.”
Those of us who dined in the Colonnade tonight were treated to a fantastic Indian dinner. The weather cleared up and by about 8:40 pm, the sun dropped behind the horizon, emitting brilliant oranges, purples and reds across the sky.
We are one day closer to the ice…Chinstrap penguins here we come!
~ Chris Srigley, Assistant Expedition Leader