Blog 2: Wednesday 2 December 2015 by Dave Killick
L’Astrolabe has powered through the roaring 40s and the furious 50s. We are now well and truly in Antarctic waters. The temperature has dropped and after a sunny start yesterday, snow fell on the ship in the afternoon. We continue to be blessed by calm seas which have been a pleasant surprise to those who have crossed the Southern Ocean before. A sweep is being run on the first iceberg to be seen, with the consensus that it will be sometime this afternoon. The pack ice will not be far ahead.
Our days have been filled with watching movies on our laptops, resting, writing emails or enjoying the excellent food L’Astrolabe has to offer. Two or three times a couple of us clamber up onto the top deck of the ship, point a small satellite dish north and connect to the outside world for a minute or two – the time it takes for our very efficient software to compress and send and receive the expedition’s correspondence. We are blessed with both satellite phones and email. It is welcome contact from loved ones for members of the expedition – and a far cry from Mawson’s time when long periods could pass without any word from home.
The other popular past ime for those aboard ship is watching for wildlife. Even in the remote southern ocean there have been numerous seabird sightings, with many accompanying the ship for periods during the day. There is also the possibility of whale sightings and keen eyes are watching from the bridge for any such possibility.
We are expecting to arrive in the vicinity of Commonwealth Bay on Thursday afternoon, depending on the ice conditions. After some very quiet days aboard the ship a burst of intense activity will be most welome. For now, it is a chance to enjoy the facilities of a final shower and a night or two more in a warm bunk, even if it does pitch and roll in the night.