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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zodiac Cruise

Whilst landings are great, when the ship is in a good area for ice and wildlife, it can also be fun just to go out and cruise in the zodiacs for a bit.  It is fascinating to get up close to the ice in the water when the amazing blues show through, and there is always the chance of a few close encounters with birds, penguins, seals or even whales - though sadly we never found a whale ourselves.

Over lunch the ship repositioned to a location near to Gourdin Island. During this sailing we passed some spectacular and huge icebergs, though as ever, the photos don't really give you any perspective on their size.

In the afternoon, we started off with a zodiac trip around some of the ice and along the shore of the island, which we were to visit later.  There was a huge tabular iceberg that I would have liked to get close to, but it was too far away, so we made do with some of the smaller bergs nearby, in the more sheltered waters.

It was just as well that we didn't go too far out because whilst this didn't seem at all choppy to us compared to a couple of the trips we made for landings last time, there were a few waves crashing over us once we got speed up, and we did get a bit wet.

Some people found this icy drenching a bit much; but then that is why you wear all of your waterproof gear in the zodiac.  It can rather take your breath away though, especially when you get a good splash in the face.

We passed near to one berg that was like a big blue shard pointing up at the sky.  It looked fabulous; sadly my photo of it does not.

Talking of photos, the zodiac cruise was a great opportunity to try out the waterproof camera that we had bought specifically for this kind of thing.

Of course working any camera with gloves on isn't the easiest of things, and I spent quite a while wondering what on earth was going on with my photos before I realised that I had accidentally set the camera onto some kind of create-a-panorama-scene setting. Oops.

We watched for a while as three seabirds squabbled over sharing a jellyfish that one of them had caught, then set off for the coastline of the islands, where the water is an amazing blue colour around the base of the icebergs.

We saw a few crabeater and Weddell seals hauled out on the ice, but we we most excited by our first sightings of the chinstrap penguins.   No photos of these here as was having trouble with the camera at the time, but you will certainly see them in the next posting.

Whilst you wonder sometimes how some types of penguin, such as the gentoo and the adelie get their name, it is pretty obvious why these are called chinstrap. Their predominantly white face and the narrow black band under their chin make them very distinctive.

 Further around, the adelie penguins were in good spirits, darting about in the water, often heading towards the land and then deciding to play in the sea a bit longer. When the time came to get out, they had to swim for the shore line and then propel themselves about a metre and a half upwards to get onto the ledge of the land.

Most of the time this worked, and they would make it onto the land and slide along on their front until they could make it up on to their feet again. Quite often though, they didn't make it; they would hit the ledge near the top and fall back into the water.

Some of them would take three or four attempts to make it onto the land. It did look quite comical, although I suppose it must have been a bit painful for them as they hit the side. They all seemed OK though, so it can't have done them any real harm.

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