Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NEKO HARBOUR


A joyful moment above Neko.
I don't get to climb this very often as we're mostly kayaking
in this beautiful protected harbor,
a frequent stop on many of our trips.
What you see in the above banner is across the way.
Breathtakingly beautiful in all directions with mountain ranges covered in glaciers
as far as the eye can see, some 100 miles, on a clear day.
Oops, maybe that photo was from Paradise Bay, quite similar.
(This is what happens when a "jump" photo's timing is off!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

A FOURTH KAYAKING VIDEO FROM OUR ANTARCTIC PADDLING SEASON


Our professional photographer from Leica, Oliver,
produced this little kayaking video out of our own footage.
His is the opening shot, you can see the difference Leica quality gear makes!
Find the video HERE.

You'll see three earlier videos below.





Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ANTARCTICA DRAWS ME BACK

I feel like I've won the Lottery.
I get to return for one last trip this season...eureka!
I'm sure I'll have stories for you about the ice forming outward,
blocking our attempts to get into the inland waterways
 as it's now approaching winter down there.
These are the views that bring me back again and again.
Oh, that LIGHT!




 And of course, the critters!
This crab eater seal pup was with two adults, checking us out.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

THREE KAYAKING VIDEOS





Working backward, here are three videos I created this year. 
It was my first attempt at using a GoPro camera.
There are loads of action packed, fast paced and adrenaline rush GoPro videos out there.
These would not be among them.
The last one puts me to sleep in a comforting way.

KAYAKING IN PARADISE, the most recent video.

KAYAKING IN ANTARCTICA, the second one I created.

PADDLING THE ICE, and the first one, narcotics provided.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BUSY ARTISTS!

Double-fisted expedition guide.
One hand on the zodiac throttle,
the other on the microphone at lecture time.
We all wear many hats.
Mine now include history lecturer and driver (well, I've always been a driver...)
as well as kayak guide for nine years now.
By default I've become a historian.
It all started with lectures about the early whaling industry,
featuring excerpts from great grandfather's diaries.
Alexander Lange was Norway's first whaling manager
to begin the taking of whales in Antarctica in what became known as the modern whaling era.
I now give talks about Amundsen's successful quest to reach the South Pole,
Shackleton's Endurance expedition (and his 3 others)
as well as the other explorers of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
It was a pleasure to have two full trips
as a guide/lecturer/zodiac driver.
AND both were out to the Falkland Islands,
South Georgia as well as the Antarctic Peninsula.
My first return to those far flung places in
five years!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

SIMPLY MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS

NEW THIS SEASON
TWO TRIPS AS ZODIAC DRIVER, GUIDE AND HISTORIAN
and NO kayaking.
It is truly and simply the best little boat for getting passengers to and from shore
or out for a zodiac cruise.
Seven air compartment zodiacs are known for their stability,
ease in handling most conditions and are very difficult to flip.
They collapse for easy storage and stack nicely on the deck of a ship
with the help of a crane. 
Highly adaptable, they can handle a 40hp motor as easily as a 75hp.
Here, we're loading our passengers with their kit for a night of sleeping on the ice.
 Happy campers!
 Next day we take them out for a little sightseeing cruise.
In and out of fjords, around ice bergs and up to glaciers.

 Sometimes we sing, sometimes I share with them what I know about the formation of glaciers and icebergs, the life cycles of penguins, seals and whales or just simply enjoy a fine moment of quiet calm.
 I do love driving.
It's nice getting a thumb's up!


Once we've dropped passengers off at the gangway
it's time to put the zodiacs away until the next time.
 The crane operator waits while I shut down the motor
and attach the painter line and the crane hook.
He then winches us up to deck three, where we embark on the ship
while he hoists the zodiac up to deck five for stowage and safe passage.
Here's a little video by friend Mick Brown.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sorry, couldn't resist the urge to make up one of these...
I really do have the best job in the world!


"Is it so nice as all that?" asked the mole, shyly...
"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leaned forward for his stroke.
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
"Simply messing...about in boats -- or with boats... In or out of 'em it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
"Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together and have a long day of it?"
~From The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, February 21, 2013

SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL

Another of the very large birds we see on the wing while at sea is the southern giant petrel. They can be as large as the smaller albatrosses, the gray headed and the light mantled sooty particularly, measuring between 34" to 39" (86-99 cm) with a wingspan of 73" to 81" (185-205 cm). Their weight can be 11 to 18 lb. (5-8 kg), like an average American turkey.
It can get confusing watching them from the ship...they're nearly as elegant on the wind as the albatrosses but a closer look at their beaks reveals a thicker, more menacing one...it's designed to tear apart flesh of living creatures. The tube that appears on top of the beak is to enhance its sense of smell while also removing salt from the water they take in. All petrels are in the tubenose family.
The white morph makes up about 5% of the population while the rest are a mix of colors, including light through dark brown, gray, sooty or combinations.




 Here's a decapitated head and beak we found on a beach in the South Shetland Islands this season. You can see the size of this useful tool...those are my hands holding the beak. That foreclaw looking thing is meant to tear flesh. It seems to serve them well.
Like all member of the procellariiformes they have certain features that set them apart from other birds. They have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns, although the nostrils of petrels are on top of the bills.
The bills are split into 7 or 9 horny plates. Also, they produce a stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. This is used against predators as well as providing an energy rich food source for its chicks as well as for the adults during their long flights.
They also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps to desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water they consume; this tube excretes a concentrated saline solution from the nostrils while also enhancing their sense of smell.



Someone once described to me their eating habits as being "prehistoric" in that they don't actually kill their prey, they simply walk up to them and start pecking out their eyes and going from there...eating them alive, so to speak.
Lovely birds...
They also consume offal and carrion.