Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Location:
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Retrasos Argentinos

Arriving early at the Ushuaia airport to deal with my excess luggage I learn that my 16:10 flight to Buenos Aires AEP is delayed. It now leaves 15:15; an hour EARLIER !

Moreover a big confusion over if I need to collect my checked luggage at AEP for the planned bus ride to the other airport EZE. My flight now is directly to EZE. No need to change airports and luggage checked through to Amsterdam.

Finally I start digging up my credit card for the excess luggage charges. Only to be handed over my boarding pass and she wishes me a good flight...

Now I am left with 825 pesos, about 50 euros, not needing any of it as it looks. After final checking in at Buenos Aires I will be looking for a nice dinner.

So far I think Argentinia deals very nicely with 'delays'.

Leaving

I am packed-up and ready to leave Ushuaia. I stayed at the Aonikenk Hostel. A short uphill hike from the town centre, overlooking the harbour and marina. Good basic accomodation with excellent internet.

The month at sea is only slowly leaving my 'system'. This morning I tried to have the kitchen tap water run by tapping my left foot on the floor. The sink water on-board was foot-operated...

Yesterday I tried to 'organize' the various posts that Justine published on her blog, Facebook and the Spirits' blog and link to them on my Facebook. Glitches in the on-board satellite e-mail system made for sketchy publishing. Justine superbly wrote about our Antarctic adventure.

I continued on further weeding-out the 6600+ pictures I currently have on my computer; Donna's and Jay's still to come... I came across this zoomed picture that Justine took of me taking a picture of a Crabeater seal; as if it saying Hi!

At the start we took wide berths of all seals. Paddling through ever denser iceflows we inevitable passed closer-by. The Crabeater seals in particular are not disturbed whatsoever by our presence; only rarely looking up, do some scratching and lying their heads back on the ice, eyes closed. Never taking to the water.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Back in Ushuaia

We are back in Ushuaia after a month and 16 paddling days on the Antarctic Peninsula. The return voyage, crossing of Drakes Passage on the Spirit of Sydney, was very rough with two passing force 10+ storms (60 knots and 10 meter seas).

The picture is of our overnight camping at Booth Island. More stories and pictures to follow at some time.

A big thank you to our Captain "Zeek" and Santi for crewing the incredible Spirit of Sydney and navigating her and us safely to Antarctica and back and all the support they gave to our kayaking logistics and the many nice meals they cooked for us.

Justine led the group 'Expedition Style' and no one was complaining that we sometimes had our first stop and lunch only at 3 PM. There are not too many landing spots on this continent that is crushed by heavy glaciation. Ice, ice, ice, everywhere. Thank you Gry, Donna, Jay, Lonan and David for the great company on board and on the water.

Justine is possibly planning another trip to Antarctica in 2019. Very highly recommended!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Floating Rock

This post was intended to be automatically posted on the Spirit of Sydney blog by ships' satellite e-mail system, but never made it there.

It has been a week since we left Ushuaia. The crossing to Antarctica was 'uneventful' (as for sea state) for we experienced what is called "Drakes' Pond". A relative smooth passage brought us to the Melchior Islands. Along the way we saw hourglass Dolphins and breaching Humpback whales and Albatros. And first glimpses of all white coastlines, ice bergs and chinstrap penguins.

All the coastline is heavily glaciated; crushed by ice. There is only a few meters rocky 'beach' in front of vertical and sometimes overhanging ice cliffs. But those beaches would dissapear on high tide and would not be safe for landing for frequent cracking sounds and spectacular ice falls. Only the smaller islets have some opportunities for landings and safe lunch spots. But those sometimes are taken by fur seals. Very agile animals on land that sometimes rest on the patches of snow 20 meters up and far away from the water.

The floating ice looks all white and snow until one bumps into a foot size 'cube'. Hard, heavy and sharp as granite; floating rocks.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Breaking Waves

Look! Breaking waves ahead where the birds are circling! David calls out from his vantage point sitting high on the rear deck. Moments later we recognize the dorsal fins of a group of dolphins. The word Dolphins is called out frequently and more and more gather on the deck to view the spectacle of a group of hourglass dolphins riding the bow wave and following astern. The water is very clear to see the typical stripes on their bodies.

I was pleased that today I was early for my watch. For the last few day I 'enjoyed' a 'comatose' sleep whenever I lied down. Very possibly the side effect of taking the Stugeron motion sickness tablets. Not a moment I felt any 'queesyness' that I experienced a few times before in the past. The captain recommends to keep taking the pills every 12 hours, just in case.

The ocean turns from almost oily flat overnight to a bigger swell making movement below deck difficult again. I have bumped my head numerous times now creating a sore spot in one place, and 'bang' again, ouch!

After my shift I helped Justine prepare a potato based oven roast. Cutting the veggies and cleaning the dishes I realize I am quite lucky with seasickness this time. I actually enjoy doing this, despite the repeated head bumps and #39;bracing for support'.

Justine reckons another twenty minutes to go in the oven. Another nice meal breaking the surface.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Ready to Sail

Everything organized in the tiniest of spaces I have to sleep in. Overnight snow on the mountains. Ready to sail.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ushuaia

Touching down at Ushuaia at 12:30. Taxi to the hostel. Settling in. Hiking down to the harbour and seeing the Spirit of Sydney moored at the dock. With 14 degrees it still feels comfortably warm. Having a great dinner out with David, Jay, Donna, Gry and Lonan. Justine to arrive tomorrow and first meeting on board tomorrow afternoon for a beer on the captains' invitation.

OK, through-posting my Blog to Facebook is still working and I am enjoying a record number of comments and likes; Wow! very motivational, thanks! Now trying not to overdo it on posts.

Buenos

For the first time on my travels I had to pay for excess bagage and still had only space on my body for one cotton T-shirt.

Arriving in Buenos Aires at 4 AM with 25° Celcius. All the other summer clothing I packed and paid for will be more appropriate after I arrive in Ushuaia later today.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Antarctica

I am packed and ready for traveling to Ushuaia to join a sea kayaking team led by Justine Curgenven on the Antarctic Peninsula for the whole of February. We will travel to and from the Peninsula on the sailing yacht Spirit of Sydney.

At the moment I have no way of keeping you updated while I am there. Best option at the moment is probably to follow Justine Curgenven and CackleTV on Facebook and some infrequent but very good reading on the Spirit of Sydney blog.