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We’re have returned from our first Antarctic expedition. We arrived back in Ushuaia the night of Feb. 4th after beating our way up the Beagle for the last five hours. It was an adventure for all on board Tiama.We had good crossings of the Drake Passage – 650 miles each way between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula – taking 3-4 days both ways, although the Australian climbers on board thought that climbing their peak would be easy after sailing the Drake Passage.

We knew we had arrived at the gateway to the Antarctic when a huge blue white iceberg emerged out of the fog. From then on we spent the whole trip invariably being awed, humbled, set on edge and elated by the sheer enormity of Antarctica in every sense and the weather that it can throw at you, sometimes with very little warning. It certainly keeps you on your toes and all your antennae finely tuned to what is happening around you. It is hard not to use every superlative I know to describe this place. The forces of nature at work in Antarctica that you can see and feel are so overpowering It certainly gives you some perspective about your place in the scheme of things which also makes you feel very very hopeful. Nature rules!!!

It was a brilliant sunny day when we landed the climbers near their peak. Unloaded all the gear in about four hours, organized a radio and pick up schedule and headed out to find a safe anchorage to wait. We finally picked them up again 12 days later. They had climbed their peak and were pretty pleased with how everything had worked out. Again there was good weather for the pick up although we had to weave our way in and around icebergs much larger than Tiama to get to the shore where they were waiting.

After that there were still 14 days to explore Antarctica which we did. A wonderful time, saw a lot of whales – so many that after the 10th time when the cry ‘whales on the port bow’ was called, someone down below yelled back ‘what sort?’

Spent hours watching penguins literally popping out of the water and standing around in their hundreds looking after their chicks, or leopard seals slumbering on ice flows or sleekly hiding out by ice bergs waiting for a penguin to swim by. The wildlife is abundant and the first reaction is not fear of humans. It’s possible to sit and watch all this taking place just five meters away from you.

The climbers turned into pretty good sailors after they returned, expert zodiac drivers and learning fast how to moor TIAMA with steel strops and lines to rocks ashore in whatever anchorage we had chosen for that night. They were still ‘peak spotting’ and planning and scheming for their next trip. There are so many magnificent peaks that just rise straight out of the water, it is easy to see why it attracts climbers. Ruby (our 10-year-old daughter) of course now wants to climb mountains. She had a great time and was completely enthralled by the wildlife.

We had some weather, mostly when we were well tacked down for the night. We recorded 65 knots while at anchor in Pleneau with six heavy mooring lines to shore. Tiama did really well, was comfortable in the ice, and we were in amongst a bit of thick brash and ice flows at times, navigating in poorly charted waters and anchorage’s where bumping into the odd rock is common.

Now we are busy preparing for the next voyage, up the Chilean Channels. We leave on February 11 with a friend from NZ and a Danish couple that we met here. It will take a month to get up to Puerto Montt. We are all looking forward to this as it is supposed to be spectacular. From Puerto Montt we will be heading North making our way up towards Alaska were we will spend the northern summer season.

We are all doing fine, loving our adventures and missing you all.

Cheers Henk, Bunny and Ruby

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