Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Antarctica Journal day32 - February 14, 2007

The 6th day of the crossing, no wind, light swells, temp outside 38º f inside 75º f 160 miles to Stanley.

Keep your fingers crossed so the engine doesn't quit again. We are on our third oil pump, all three jerry rigged by Jerome and Leiv. The crossing from the Falklands to the Antarctic Peninsula took 3 and a half days. We are already double that.

Yva here: yet such long crossings, however brain-depleting since all our seasickness meds make our grey cells sluggish and numb, have advantages. You can meditate till you turn blue. You can raid cookies' grottos secreted under our salon seats and munch of them while pretending they do not make you fat, just strong and wise. You can read three books about Antarctic or Arctic exploration, easy to identify because of their frosty covers. You can hang out with friends and share your life's snippets, which may have seemed special until somebody says: it happened to me, too, years ago, and then you know these episodes are not just special but shared. You may sleep, 10, 12, 14 hours in one clip, and some of us do: it is nice to think that once we land we may not have to sleep at all for a week or so. You can watch a movie, or read each other's email messages, or try to advise some young lovers we care about how to mature without being smashed by life.

Or you can photograph albatrosses gliding around our Golden Fleece. Yeah, the big ocean birds with wings like huge gliders, glistening white chests, and large pinkish bills with prominent nostrils which ooze salt sludge extracted from the seawater they drink.

And soon you learn how difficult it is, and either give up, or try and try again to line up four constantly moving objects: that big bird flying fast above the top of a wave and not waiting for you to get him or her in focus, your long heavy lens bobbing like mad in your hands and killing your wrists, your body swaying and trying to find a fleeting balance on the deck, and the deck itself: moving, bucking, tilting and keeping to its own unexpected rhythm which catches you unaware every time.

And as you lose your balance and your focus and try to align everything all over again, your albatross is already gone and another is gliding nearby, so you quickly regroup and try like heck to get your four part alignment in place. And you almost do, when your foot catches on yet another rope hanging just above the deck, and plop: you stumble, and all your efforts are going to pieces in the hurry. And then the albatrosses laugh: you swear you can hear their throaty hahahaha all over Antarctica, or at least the tiny bit of it which you make your home at this very moment.

Expected landfall Feb 16 evening...

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