Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jougla Point and Antarctic kayaking

Nic kayaking in Antarctica
In the afternoon, we were on the list for kayaking.  However as the wind had been quite strong, making the water a bit choppy, and as one of the people in the morning session had capsized, I figured I would be too nervous of, and therefore more likely to actually capsize myself, so I took my name off.

Nic did go though.  There was a group of about twenty people and he was in the back of a double kayak. They boarded them from the zodiac, which wasn't as rocky as he had expected. 
Antarctic iceberg
Unfortunately he couldn't find the rudder controls with his feet, so they just had to steer with the paddles, which made it a bit trickier when they had to avoid drifting bergy bits and bigger icebergs.

With only a couple of hours, they couldn't go that far, but they paddled around Goudier Island, close to the coast and past all of the penguins on land.

Leopard seal seen while kayaking
They were lucky to see a leopard seal jumping off a bit of ice in front of them.   Leopard seals are large carnivores that can be vicious if the mood takes them, and they have been known to have a go a the zodiacs, so it is as well that it decided to swim off while they were kayaking.

Antarctic ice
It was a tricky session at times, as it could be difficult to get through sea ice.  And when the wind turned very blowy and it started sleeting, it was difficult to turn the kayak, but they had to do so quickly to avoid an iceberg drifting in their path.  A few times, they had to just stay still to keep the kayak centered to avoid  getting an unscheduled dip in the icy water.

Nic was happy that he had been kayaking in Antarctica, and seeing the leopard seal was great, but as he said, in the main they didn't get far or see anything new, so I decided it wasn't worth the risk of falling in, and he decided it wasn't something he wanted to do again unless there were something especially good to see that you couldn't otherwise get to.

While Nic was off kayaking, I did the shore landing at Jougla Point.
This is on the main island near to the base, but is uninhabited - except of course by the penguins. 

On shore there is a reconstructed whale skeleton, and some other remnants from the days when the whalers were there, which gives the penguins some things to poke around.

They seem to like to have a few objects that they can jump on and peck at; it's sometimes like they use them as part of a game.  And that appears to include us sometimes as well.

I took advantage of others going off on a hike to wander around the point on my own and spend time watching the penguins.  You will hear about me doing that a lot during this trip, but the general consensus amongst most of our fellow passengers was that you just can't get bored watching penguins.

That is as long as you watch them properly.  Some do just sit around for ages, but especially with the gentoos, if you pick out a few of the more lively ones to watch for a while, you will soon become fascinated by them. 

One of the things that you will often see are the chicks chasing their parent around for a meal.  The chick is bigger than the adult at this stage, so it is funny to watch the chase and the parent telling the chick off for keep pestering it.

I also have a fascination for seeing their little footprints in the snow.  Whilst the idea may not be entirely pleasant, it always looked good when you could see the footprints better because they had been walking in the guano too.

As I was walking around, the weather, which had been windy but reasonable up until now, decided that it was time to remind us that we were in Antarctica, and suddenly turned very cold and started raining and sleeting.

I was very glad of my multiple layers.  I pulled my jacket hood up and tight around my face and did like the penguins do; I found a big rock to shelter behind and turned my back to the wind until the worst of it passed.  I also felt a little bit sorry for Nic out in his kayak.

Back on board, dinner tonight was an Antarctic barbecue.  The chef and his team provided an excellent meal out on the back deck.  Some of the guests collected their food but took it back into the dining room. We were having none of that. We wrapped up warm again and ate out on deck. It was a fun evening, though eventually the cold Antarctic wind set in and we all headed inside.

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