"Mind out for the ice"

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 you to know that this was not another one of my bright ideas.

I couldn’t resist the challenge, especially when I thought of my friend Lynne Cox (who wrote a blurb for Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean). She swam an entire mile in these waters. Wearing nothing but a normal swimsuit, she climbed down a ladder from a ship and swam to the continent of Antarctica. It took her half an hour. (See this report on the CBS website for more on this incredible feat, or read her inspiring book, Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer.)

Inspired by her example, I donned my gym gear (hey, it needed washing anyway) and made my way down to a lower deck, the designated jumping off point. As I went down the ladder to the Zodiac, the ship’s doctor, Patty Schiff, was on hand. “Mind out for the ice,” she said, pointing to a chunk of clear ice bobbing on the water nearby.

Taking the plunge. Note small piece of ice still in background.

Once we’d pushed the ice out of the way, and before I had a chance to think about it too much, I held my nose and jumped in. The water was not as shockingly cold as I had expected. Bracing, but not mind-numbingly freezing. Having said that, I was quite happy to hop out again. I was not tempted to try and match Lynne’s achievement.

My friends at the South End Rowing Club (not as south an end as THIS south end!) include a number of open water swimmers, who swim in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay every weekend, all year round. I also know some people who swim every Sunday in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, even when they have to break the ice first. They tell me that after the initial sharp intake of breath, they get a huge rush of endorphins. I don’t know if I’d go quite that far, but it definitely got the circulation going, and taking the plunge was a good thing to add to the list of amazing memories from this trip.

Do I remind you of one of those little plastic trolls with the sticky-up hair?!

Thanks to fellow traveler Jeff Hillman for the photos of my plunge.

Other Stuff:

Today was our last day in Antarctica, before we head back north across the Drake Passage to Ushuaia in Argentina. I am sad that our trip is drawing to a close. Already I am trying to figure out how soon, and in what manner, I will return to this mysterious, beautiful continent at the bottom of the world – and what I can do to help protect it.

The Antarctic Peninsula is being affected more than any other region of the world by climate change. Since records began 50 years ago, it has already experienced a rise in mean annual air temperatures of 2.8 degrees Celsius, or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. (Source: British Antarctic Survey) This is already having significant impacts on the biodiversity of this vibrant region.

And so, as I get ready to head north to Australia, and as I’m trying to figure out how to fit my new red Antarctic parka into my suitcase, I’m also thinking about what else I’m taking back with me – memories, photos, but also a new appreciation of this wonderful world, and an renewed passion to do all I can to save it for future generations.


  • Evening wave cutter. Sounds as if the Antarctic Peninsula is filling your inner planet mother heart 360 +1. What an adventure and education Roz. I hope your ears return in time to their previous location. I know you have been grinning soooo large you stretched every happy muscle on your face. Your pictures and those from traveling friends have been a joy to experience.Thank you for sharing another spot on the planet with all of us! I learned to scuba dive in the Great Lakes( long ago) . Stays in the high 30″s year round @ 120 plus feet down. Not all of the commercial sailing ships made their destination. After hundreds of years many of the ships are in very good shape. Keep taking those wild water plunges. I hear it is a great preservative method. Wait a minute so is wine.B. Savage says – more research please! Good to read your keeping up with your muscle training.Your up to how many pull ups and push ups? Drats the sands are running south through dial. Pillow time. Smiles your way friend.The boat paint color- I likes it . Bright colors fad fast in the sun. But oh how the fish will gossip and come to the surface to talk about it. Wait … your not thinking – glow in the dark? Good thing your do not write in your sleep. Hmm – untold stories- for now- ha ha. Humor – humor and fun. Life is short – make the rules.

  • I don’t want to get too carried away here. But this plunge is so symbolic of what you’ve chosen to do with your life, no? Stay in the comfortable zodiac or jump into ice water? Stay at your safe job or row the seven seas?

  • ALOHA ROZ~ ! so thankful for the inspiration you are receiving
    as you give so much… What great experiences and photos!!!!
    MAHALO for sharing your wonderful adventures… we all get inspired
    by you and your caring of the EARTH… Love from Oregon,
    yes, troll doll came to mind! beatiful! love that photo as your
    foot is just touching the icy water!

  • Wow, you make that look like fun, Roz. Love the mid-air shots. All is well here. Pike is a little under the weather, so I’m taking her some Vietnamese food for lunch this afternoon. Take care and have a safe passage back across the Drake!

  • Talk about ‘making a memory’! How many folks on earth can say they swam in ANTACTICA?! You did that. Amazing. 😉

  • Well, no one can say they swam in Antactica, actually — because there is no such place! (Where IS that spell check on these comment boxes? Why I like the “delete comment” key … but it no longer exists on your website!)

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