This trip became a first for not just us, but the crew and expedition team too… Not one ship had managed to make it into the Weddell Sea this season, with pack ice far too thick and treacherous to push through.
Captain Sascha, who headed up our all Russian crew, skilfully pushed through the farther than anyone had; the craggy buttress of Rosamel island marked the entry point, skies brightened and an eerie silence fell on the deck, broken only by the sound of ice cracking loudly beneath the hull, as we slowly slugged our way through the frozen waters.
We passed ice floes bearing lone crab eater, Weddell and fur seals and the most incredible tabular berg stretching for miles and miles – in fact as far as the eye could see.
Sadly we had reached the point of return, as the skipper conceded safe passage could not be found around the peninsular. BUT with perfect conditions, icy calm clear waters it was once again time to jump (not literally for obvs reasons) into kayaks and zodiacs to check out leopard seals we had seen dozing.
A HUGE consolation prize for not spending time in the Weddell, we would now be able to head further South, 66 degrees 33′ to be precise and actually cross the Antarctic circle!!
Huge cause for celebration, we amassed on the forward deck and raised a glass as we crossed ‘the line’. 240 years and 42 days, to the day, we all took the same oath Captain Cook did …
“We will keep Antarctica pristine and untouched for peace, harmony and nature. So be it”