Once again it was time to layer up with clothing , don our life jackets and wellington boots and head to the third deck where we each picked up a bivouac bag that contained a special four layer polar sleeping bag to protect us from the elements during the night – no tents in sight.
Upon arriving at the campsite we realised that we were going to be sharing space with a colony of penguins. Not long after setting up camp we were paid a visit by one of them that stood staring at us for quite some time before plucking up the courage to come closer.
We had a special Christmas tree ceremony arranged by Morag who had brought along a bright pink Christmas tree and lights, with crystal jewels that had pink ribbons attached with each of our names written on them.
One by one we all hung them on the branches, after which we hung additional crystals on the tree with the names of people who could not be there with us, those who were still being treated for breast cancer or who had already passed over.
Around 11pm, everyone decided to hunker down into the sleeping bags for the night.
Needless to say most of us got very little, if any sleep and those that did formed a choir of snorers whose choruses echoed off the surrounding slopes and glaciers much to the amusement (or not) of everyone else listening in.
“I found it very surreal to wake up at 3am to broad daylight with toasty toes and a frozen nose and to find two penguins guarding my sleeping bag,” said Grace.
“I couldn’t get any sleep but enjoyed the two penguins that guarded us on the slope throughout the night,” said Margaret.
At 5am we had a wake up call from our guide Andy. With no tents to dismantle we packed up camp quickly and headed back to the ship for a hot shower and breakfast and , for some of us , a nap.
After breakfast, we passed through the scenic Lemaire Channel and docked at Port Charcot, where we were able to jump ship again and enjoy some snowshoeing, kayaking and zodiac cruising.
During the zodiac cruise we had the pleasure of seeing a Minke whale and her calf and Frida, Morag and Laurie had a close encounter with a Leopard Seal.
“It was almost as if he wanted to play with us and could do with some “pink”
company. He was swimming underneath and on either side of the boat, popping his head out of the water just about jumping into the zodiac. It was definitely the highlight of the day,” said Frida.
“We were overwhelmed by the experience, even our zodiac driver Michelle commented on how unique the extended encounter with the Seal was,” said Laurie.
The afternoon was spent at the southernmost point of our expedition on Petermann Island. Our goal of the team holding three most southerly pink ribbons to represent our expedition message of "awareness, education and prevention" was finally achieved. We also took the time at this spot to take a selection of pictures displaying our sponsorship banners and country flags, with the Gentoo and Adelie penguins looking on.
We are currently heading north and will spend the night sailing through
the Gerlache Strait.