#AntarcticAlphabet: R is for rope

R is for rope. The rhythm of coils passed hand to hand, or turned upon the deck in line with the lay. Wrapped round and hung, ready to hand, on pins and cleats, belayed and standing-by for work. Rope is part of the trinity of sail and hull harnessing the … Continue reading

Q is for Question: a short love letter to the scientific method #antarcticalphabet

Query Island is a pimple in the ice at nearly 69° south, its existence a question till 1948. The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (predecessor to BAS) named it recognising the difficulty of distinguishing it from the mass of the Peninsula.   That’s science for you: honouring the question. The ‘scientific … Continue reading

What happens next?

Fear and silence When I started this blog, I said it was about fear. My fears around mast climbing and seasickness and writing honestly. So why have I been so quiet recently? Why not write about the wide horizons and storms and excitements? Has life just got in the way? … Continue reading

Taking the helm: seizing the wheel

A friend asked the other day what ‘being on watch’ meant. I talked about the looking out for ice, the rope pulling and, of course, taking the helm. She was astonished. ‘You actually steer the ship?’ I nodded, enjoying the moment, and remembering how astonishing it was. The first glimpse of … Continue reading

Icebergs great and small

Giant icebergs range a long way from home, from their roaring, growling birth. Pushed from glaciers out to float, maybe part of an ice shelf before splitting into massive ice cubes walking across the horizon in dazzling summer light, silent amongst the drifting brash ice. They travel together at first, … Continue reading

Back on board: the South Atlantic

  I have found it hard to start writing the second half of the trip, the days crossing the South Atlantic from South Georgia to Cape Town. Life intervenes of course: work and friendships and other adventures. Plus procrastination and fear, the writer’s ever-present comrades. When I started I said this … Continue reading

#penguinrights and habitat corpus: #antarcticalphabet

    Let us sound the battle-cry for #penguinrights. Suppose penguins took us humans to court for destroying their habitat? Suppose they won?  I am not talking only of animal rights, or even land rights, but earth rights. Penguin power is habitat corpus: the battle to protect an ecosystem – … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: O is for oil

Oil drips down the trypots and the rigs. It oozes in tarpits, welling up from the ground, the black gold of fantasy released by water under pressure, the raw hydraulics of fracking. The revolution relies on the stuff; prosperity and peace rise with carbon dioxide released into air and ocean. … Continue reading

Leaving the land

Waking in the morning, we found Macaroni penguins were not on our agenda. The wind had risen to nearly 30 knots and a big swell was running. Europa battled east for a little while but by 0830 it was clear we wouldn’t be able to land. Harko  turned our bows … Continue reading

Gold Harbour’s black sand and battling seals

Gold Harbour was overcast, the black sand and grey water reflecting the incoming clouds. Its hanging glaciers loomed above us, the bright ice dimmed as drizzle spattered for the first time in days. Our astonishing run of beautiful weather was ending and the swell was building.   The volcanic beach … Continue reading