morning is beautiful and sunny, with only a few clouds around. We
cruise by Cape Williams in the morning and I am mesmerized by the ship
crunching through the ice, and by the vivid colors that surround
us. In the mid afternoon, helicopter tours of the ice were begun,
but just as my group took off, the cloud cover dropped and we had to
return to the ship having only been aloft for a couple of minutes.
We waited on the flight deck for a bit, but the visibility continued to
decline, and all further flights were postponed.
The afternoon turned out to sunny and bright. We got to travel
through an extensive area of "grease ice." This kind of
ice is very thin, and looks like glass. Fascinating stuff.
Every afternoon, at 4 p.m., we have "tea time." Since
the lounge is always stocked with the fixings for some hot tea, or
cocoa, or coffee, I hadn't paid any attention to this daily event.
But, my cabin-mate, David, was always quite keen to make a visit to the
lounge during tea time. After some many days, I came to find out
that what it really means is "cakes and cookies" time.
Aha, I have cultural awareness. And, as a general rule, I tried to
avoid tea time, like I need an excuse to eat up sweets!
But, today was different. At tea time, we had an auction of items
whose proceeds were to be used to benefit the Antarctic Historic
Trust. These items included old maps, books and t-shirts. I
had my eye on a post card set signed by Sir
Edmund Hillary. These were reproductions of a set issued fifty
years ago, following the 1955-1958 Commonwealth
Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by Vivian Fuchs, which crossed over
the entire continent for the first time. This expedition
accomplished what Shackleton
tried to do in 1914-1916. Hillary's role in the the 1958 feat
is interesting. He was responsible for laying in supplies, and
fixing a route toward the south pole, from his base near McMurdo.
He used tractors for this (as was Fuchs in the crossing), and took the
opportunity to travel all the way to the south pole, the first to do so
overland since Scott in 1912. Although the bidding was quite
active on a number of items, I was able to snare this special catch.
For dinner, we have a special treat. Because it is so pleasant, we
are having a BBQ on the deck, and the ship has moored itself into the
fast ice (ice that is anchored to land). The zodiacs are cleared
away and picnic tables set up for us to enjoy our Octoberfest fare.