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Days 11-13 To Elephant Island, Point Wild
Heading to Elephant Island, we cross 60, south on Day 11 and officially enter Antarctica. We hit some rough seas on the way. It could be much worse, but it's still exciting. We are fortunate so far--this is the first day we've had people stay in their rooms. Our cabin is on the top deck, but we're fine. The best part is we have a direct route to the bridge (we just have to cross a slippery passage open to the sea). But what views we get of the breaking seas over the bow.
The storm also brings a fantastic sunset. We finally arrive at Elephant Island on a foggy morning. We are still off the coast of continental Antarctica and still back-tracing Shackleton's path. Following the loss of their ship, the Endurance, in Weddell Sea ice, Point Wild was the desolate refuge of Ernest Shackleton and his 26-man crew in 1916. It is 780 miles from our last landfall on South Georgia Island.
Point Wild is a harsh spit of land on the north coast of Elephant Island. Here Shackleton's men, lead by Frank Wild, camped, marooned for 4 months with few supplies and little shelter, waiting for "the Boss's" return to rescue them.
There is statue in a small flat area of the shore--the only clue that man has ever touched this place. It is a memorial to the captain of the Chilean ship, Yelcho, who rescued the 22 men Shackleton had to leave behind. The ship finally arrived in August, 1916.
Chinstrap penguins seem to be the lone land inhabitants of this forsaken place. When we tour the area by zodiac, the penguins race beside us in the water. We get a first-hand view of what terrific swimmers these birds are.
Then a curious mother and baby humpback come very near our boats.
Repeat, the whales come VERY near.... They didn't even ripple the water as they dived under our little rubber zodiacs. What a great experience.
We get several great tail shots as they dive near us.
And the chinstraps and whales seem to perform a choreographed dance for us.
Point Wild has a rocky coast so we can't land in these seas. Instead, we get up-close-and-personal with a huge iceberg.
This one reminds me a a Georgia O'Keeffe...
We leave this area at sunset, traveling to Point Lookout. We'll land on Elephant Island tomorrow.
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