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Hahn’s Voyage to South Georgia Underway
Posted on November 30, 2009

6:25 p.m.
800 miles from Ushuaia, 400 miles from South Georgia
End of Second Day at Sea.

By Dave Hahn

Now looking out at whitecaps and angry seas under low overcast, it is tough to remember that just a few days back we were touring Tierra del Fuego National Park in spring conditions. Harder still to recall the day before that, enjoying summer in Buenos Aires. Seasons fly past on the way to Antarctica. Although the island of South Georgia is just even in latitude with the tip of South America, it is within the cold ocean currents that envelop Antarctica, and so it has more in common with the land of ice than the continent of Andes and Amazon.

Whereas yesterday, one could stand comfortably outside on Clelia II’s decks and marvel at a swirling and varied flock of seabirds picking through the ship’s wake, today most sane people venture out into the cold and murk in short intervals. The ship is moving in the swell a bit more this evening, and the seabirds to be seen are less numerous. However, those that remain–albatrosses of one stripe or another and a few giant petrels–are still majestic, much appreciated, and amply recorded in photographs.

Today was another busy one for our crossing team. Deirdre Galbraith, Peter Hillary, and I spent much of the day working with our six clients to ready personal gear and group equipment for our attempt on Shackleton’s route across South Georgia. Yesterday, we devoted a fair amount of time and effort to strategy sessions: hauling out the maps and charts of the island so that I could pass on my concerns and priorities in our effort to get across this collection of glaciers and mountain passes.

We sat down with Susan Adie–our overall expedition leader and veteran of 140-plus voyages to Antarctica–in order to coordinate our needs and desires with the ship’s planned movements and capabilities. Yesterday afternoon, I gave a slide presentation to the entire assemblage of 70 passengers in order to illustrate my six previous attempts on Shackleton’s Traverse.

That lecture fit in with a series of shows by more gifted speakers, bringing the team up to speed on wildlife, geology, and the history of exploration in the areas we’ll visit. Art Wolfe, the renowned and supremely talented photographer, has given several well-attended presentations on his travels and techniques. And there have been elegant and deluxe meals in the ship’s dining hall … it is more of a fine “restaurant” than a galley or cafeteria.

This ship is certainly one of the more luxurious that I’ve been on in my, perhaps, 20 trips to sea. I’m not so used to planning an uncomfortable foray into the cold from the most comfortable of plush indoor settings. Last night’s welcome dinner, hosted by Captain Ivan Karavka, was the perfect example. We all put on our shirts and ties and viewed the most fashionable of dresses while clinking glasses of champagne–and I explained to my climbers that rations for the crossing would bear no resemblance to the fine fare they were presently sampling.

Author: - Monday, November 30th, 2009

  1. chickzonsticks

    Looking forward to following your crossing as we are not having much of a winter in Gunnison Country. I met a couple of folks from Taos today that know you! Best Brenda

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