First Day on the High Seas
The day has been bright blue and warm in the sun, as L’Astrolabe passed 47º21S 146º21E (according to my new GPS unit), but starting to get chilly as the evening sets in. I spent much of today lying in my bunk recovering from a dose of avomil – anti-seasickness medication that turns you into a zombie, capable only of eating, reading and sleeping and the occasional foray outside – but thankfully those effects are wearing off now and the amazing reality of it all is setting in. We’re heading to Mawson’s Huts over nearly 2600km of Southern Ocean on a rather small French research vessel on its way to the French station Dumont d’Urville in Terre Adelie. The French crew and expeditioners all seem young and friendly and I have had the opportunity to practice my bad French on them over dinner – always the cause of much amusement – tres jolie. My co-expeditioners (the Mawson team – Pete, Steve, Tony, Jon, Ann, Michelle and Brett) all seem to have coped with the swirling, corkscrewing motion of the ship pretty well (some better than others as you’d expect) – we are sailing over two swells that cross each other diagonally, so the ship rolls and pitches and yaws in an “interesting” fashion. I wonder if these relatively calm seas will give ways to wilder ones (I expect so) and that a little more of that emetic frisson can be anticipated. Hopefully by then I’ll have my sea-legs.
The ship inside is steamy and hot – cramped and sauna-like in the cabins – especially in my top bunk – if only it was possible to open a porthole and let in some fresh air! But who’s complaining really? I have no doubt the warmth will be very much appreciated in a few days time, when outside temperatures really begin to drop.
The sun vanished in an apricot swirl of clouds at about 8.55pm, and the days will get getting longer and longer until – by the 21st Dec. the sun will not set at all, as Cape Denison is within the Antarctic Circle. Anyway, enough in this first real test-post – I’ll try sending a photo tomorrow and a few more coherent thoughts.