Antarctica Adventure - 2002

Much less chance of seeing blue sky and sunshine here too. The South Orkneys sounded thoroughly unpleasant to us, but Dave practically wept at the cold and foggysight. Folks infected with “Antarctic Fever” are different from the rest of us—they’re crazier!

D AY A T S EA Day 13 Now we are truly miles from anywhere as we steam across the Scotia Sea towards South Georgia Island. It will take us all day today and the night to reach that green and blessed island. We had four lectures today and it was very hard to stay awake and alert for thembecause of the terriblenight we’d just been through. Around l1 PM, the winds had picked up significantly as had the seas. Then suddenly, we were in an epic storm we felt like it was the “perfect storm.” We learned this morning that the seas had been 30-35 feet and the winds 90 miles per hour. Damn! We were on the open ocean in a real hurricane! All we had known last night was that it was difficult to stay in the bed we were rocked and rolled, shook and bounced, literally levitated off the mattress when the ship would rise and slam back into the sea. The cacophony of sounds the ship created was truly uncanny and fearsome—snapping, cracking, moaning, groaning, wailing, screaming, grinding, keening, crashing, banging, screeching. All under the assault by wind and wave which hit the poor Hanseatic from every direction, but apparently mostly abeam which, we were told today, is the very worst direction with regard to the stability of the ship because even the stabilizers don’t help against seas from that direction. Nothing stayed on any surface of our cabin, including ourselves in our beds, and even the magnetically secured closet and cabinet doors were flung open as if by a giant unseen hand. When we jumped up to look out the window around 3:30 AM, the waves looked like rolling mountains crested with snow and the tops reached above our window; and remember, we were 4 decks from the bottom of the ship. The hurricane must have moved on about 6:30 because we both fell into a fitful sleep until about 8:30 AM. Today even the “old salts” among the crew and expedition leaders were not trying to pretend that the storm had been really nothing. Everyone was agog at the wild night we had endured.

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