Saturday, January 27, 2024

Antarctica 2023-4 - Day 10 - 1/4/2024 - Freud Passage & Portal Point

Today was a day of alternate plans. Because, as Ryan would say, it’s an expedition after all. We were originally supposed to have a morning landing at Palaver Point and an afternoon landing at Cierva Cove. Right as they were starting the disembarkation announcements around 8am, they decided to call it off - the winds were too high and the water too choppy. They then scheduled some talks and onboard activities for the morning in place of the outing, while repositioning the ship to look for alternatives. Toward the end of the first talk, the presenter (who was a guide) let us know that he was being called to prepare for a standby excursion. And not too long after it was announced that we would be doing a short zodiac cruise in Freud Passage. We headed out around 10:15am for the one hour cruise with Carlos. The best thing about the cruise was watching 3 humpback whales from the zodiac, though we didn’t get all that close.

Humpback whales

The afternoon excursion also ended up being a change from the original plan. It was a split landing / cruise at Portal Point. Since we were in the second to last mudroom group, we went on the cruise first - Julie was our zodiac driver. I think we were originally supposed to cruise for about 35 minutes, but it seemed closer to an hour by the time we were done. We spent the whole time watching a few groups of humpback whales feeding, sometimes getting as close as 100ish meters to them. It seemed like not more than 30 seconds would go by without us hearing spouting in some direction, then we’d each have to figure out which way it was to prepare to take shots as the whales surfaced. It was great seeing so many whales so close; Fran absolutely loved it. She also got a sighting of an almost full humpback breach (one of the things that I would most like to see during the expedition), but I missed it.

The (mainland) landing was at a place where we did a tiny bit of glacial hiking for an hour. The guides had flagged out a path that traversed 2 hills and circled back on itself. The path through the snow was narrow, and we were asked not to deviate from it (in one section in particular there was a danger of crevasses, and in fact that section was blocked off because a crevasse had been recently found). We were also treated to a group of seals resting on the snow - the initial group of 2 grew to 4 as we were leaving. The last point of note is that there was another small group of expeditioners nearby who had apparently traveled there in a yacht - we noticed them in the distance when our ship initially approached, and the hike took us even closer to where they were. I should also mention that we saw one or two cool iceberg calving events.

My Portal Point selfie

At dinner we chatted for a while with Chris and Marissa, the guide couple who had led our day paddle outing.

One random item of note… We took advantage of the shipboard laundry to help get our underwear through the whole trip. But I would have been much better off packing underwear for the full duration instead of the extra base layers that I brought along. Conservatively, I think I ended up not wearing about one-third of the clothes that I brought, and simply re-wore items more than I expected. And the laundry prices were as expensive as you’d find at a hotel - $2.50 per underwear, and more expensive for other items.


My favorite pictures from the trip can be found here.

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