2011 in Pictures

I’m continuing in the tradition of the last couple of years, and posting a slideshow featuring the highlights of the last 12 months. And what a year it has been…. – Antarctica: spectacular, amazing, jaw-dropping, and must-do-again – Australia: wonderful people, bizarre animals, and apparently difficult to leave (!) – Indian Ocean: tough one – long, rough, and (thank heavens) over! – Hectic autumn: California, … Continued

Antarctica Day 10: A Fitting Epitaph

Seen today on the scales in the ship’s fitness room: “Travel is not about where you’ve been, but what you’ve gained.” Haha. To be sure, I have gained an awful lot over the last 10 days, in every sense – experiences, friends, insights, and pounds (to clarify – not pounds sterling, alas, but pounds lard.) I’d like to say a huge thank you to all … Continued

Antarctica Day 8: Taking the Polar Plunge

Sunrise 0443, Sunset 2203 Position 64 degrees 35.60′ South, 62 degrees 41.54′ West This lunchtime I took the plunge – literally. All passengers on board the Explorer were invited to do the “Polar Plunge”, a quick leap into the 32 degree (0 degrees Celsius) waters of the Southern Ocean. Admittedly, not many chose to accept the invitation, being much too sensible. But I just wanted … Continued

Antarctica Day 5: A Little Bit of Paradise (Bay)

Sunrise 0428, Sunset 2217 Paradise Bay, 64 degrees 53.9′ South, 62 degrees 52.7′ West Today was simply too gorgeous for words. I spent much of the day with my mouth hanging open, in complete awe of our surroundings. I hadn’t slept well last night, due to the rolling of the boat (ironic!) so this afternoon I was sorely tempted to skip the zodiac trip and … Continued

Antarctic Day 4: Late Breaking News – Killer Whales

Tonight I gave the first part of my two-gig presentation. After all, that is why I am here. I was just showing the Part 4 of my Atlantic video, the triumphant arrival in Antigua, when a member of the professional staff came over and whispered in my ear, “There are killer whales outside. We might have to leave the Q&A till another time”. I spent … Continued

Antarctica Day 4: Mine’s A Large G&T, Lots Of Ice

63 31.09 degrees South, 58 52.65 degrees West Sunrise 0416, Sunset 2145 This morning I woke to the sight of icebergs outside my cabin window. We were entering the Weddell Sea, and seeing for the first time the great white continent of Antarctica. The quote on our day’s itinerary was apposite – Frank Worsley, captain of the Endurance, describing icebergs: “Swans of weird shape pecked at … Continued

Antarctica Day 3: Penguins Ahoy!

Who knows why we find penguins so endearing? Maybe it’s because they walk upright like we do. Or because their waddling walk is so klutzishly cute. Or because their faces seem so expressive. But whatever the reason, they are adorable, and I duly spent much of our first afternoon ashore laughing at their penguinny antics. The penguins here have no fear of these strange, red-clad … Continued

Antarctica Day 2: The Drake Passage

The Drake Passage has a scary reputation, and that’s not surprising (glad it wasn’t like this!). It’s the narrowest point between Antarctica and any other landmass, so all the formidable force of the Southern Ocean gets squished into a narrow passage between two continents. In fact, according to our lecture on plate tectonics today, it was only relatively recently (in geological terms) that South America … Continued

Antarctica Day 1: Global Luminary in Residence

Last year’s TED Mission Blue conference in the Galapagos Islands took place on board the National Geographic Endeavor, in association with Lindblad Expeditions. After the conference I wrote to Sven Lindblad, suggesting they might want an ocean rower to come and speak on some forthcoming trip. He wrote back saying “How about Antarctica?” Jackpot! So here I am, now on board the National Geographic Explorer, … Continued