For the last three nights, the alarm has been set for 3.00 a.m. I wake up, look out the window and see dull flat light with low mist and little visibility. The alarm is re-set for 4.00 a.m., for 5.00 a.m. and then for 6.00 a.m. At this stage there's not much difference in the light quality and so I end up getting up or sleeping in until breakfast.
This morning the pattern has repeated and at 7.30 I am up the top of the ship in the bar, grabbing a cup of tea and lamenting the strong winds and poor light. It doesn't look like we will be doing any shore landings or zodiac cruises because the wind and swell is simply unapproachable.
We sit down for a rocky breakfast, but as we approach the entrance to the Lemaire Channel, a narrow strait of land between Antarctica and Booth Island, the wind dies down and the seas glass off. Even the sun tries to poke through and the light transforms the landscape.
Port Charcot is at the northern entrance of the Lemaire Channel, so before cruising through, we unload the zodiacs and take a look around. We find Minki Whales, sea leopards and lots of penguins. And some great looking icebergs...
And the view from the zodiac back into the port and towering cliffs that mark the entrance to the Lemaire Channel are also pretty inspiring.
The cruise through the channel was breathtaking and when we arrived at the other end some 45 minutes later, we were in wan sunshine. Finally we saw some blue Antarctic sky and our final excursion was to be a landing on Peterman Island.
The weather held for our trip back through the Lemaire Channel (the captain didn't want to risk the possibility of sea ice on the other side) and shortly before dinner we had a call to see orca some two kilometres distant.
I had actually packed my cameras away, but grabbed the EOS 1Ds Mark III and 300mm lens and rushed up on deck. I looked at the camera and saw I had 170 odd shots left on the 8GB Sandisk card.
The orca and minki whales were a long way in the distance, but given this might be as close as they get, I took a few frames. Then a few more and over the next 10 minutes I filled my card with images of these amazing mammals. There must have been 50 or 60 in all and many passed the ship within a few metres.
It was an amazing end to an amazing day. Ahead are two sea days and another day in the air to get home, but my head is still buzzing. Antarctica is an amazing experience and I hope you'll return to this website to see how I produce some of the images from the shoot.
My thanks to Peregrine Adventures for inviting me aboard, and to Phase One, Canon, Panasonic and Sandisk for their loan of equipment.
I think the trip was a great success!