Thursday 30 December 2010

Days 15 – 19 The Screaming Sixties and Furious Fifties

Spirit of Enderby pitches into a big wave (pic: Peter Diddams)

"Beyond the Roaring Forties there are the Furious Fifties and Shrieking Sixties, for the storms that ravage these regions become more and more severe as one proceeds further south.” - Herbert Ponting 1921

After five days at sea, Spirit of Enderby finally drops anchor in our refuge in Perseverance Harbour at Campbell Island. Like rabbits in springtime, hibernating passengers emerge from their cabins alerted by the sudden stability of the ship. After the bucking and rolling of the Southern Ocean, one could be forgiven for thinking we'd run aground. In truth, it wasn't as bad as legend would have it, but to call it a doddle would still be an understatement. It gave us a chance to sample the privations of extended time at sea battling queasy tummies, cabin fever and just plain boredom. The seas were too rough to be climbing up and down to the lecture theatre, so improvised laptop movie screenings, card games and humble book reading tested our resilience. Even so, our heated, well-stocked vessel was a paradise compared to last century's heroic explorers who bunkered down in pitching wooden sailing boats urged on by pitiful steam engines with as much power as a couple of Zodiac outboards. There were no mutinies to put down, no dogs and ponies to rescue from rogue waves, no frostbite or scurvy. Ewen's photo competition has been a huge hit with many passengers entering an impressive portfolio of images. We sat down, playfully bickered over the winners and are ready to announce the results to an eager audience tomorrow after a busy day planned ashore on this remote sanctuary.

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