The Drake Passage was treating us kindly on our second day at sea.
It felt strange that no-one knew that it was my birthday so I ended up blurting it out to the three women who were sharing my breakfast table. They were all to become friends during the trip. Later in the day two of them came up to me and gave me a birthday card! I was so surprised, and so grateful, that they had taken the time to think of doing this and then find a way to purchase the card while in the open sea!
Later in the day someone else gave me a book that she’d finished reading (that we’d discussed the day before) with a “Happy Birthday”. Aren’t people wonderful?!
During the day my education on whales and dolphins and how Antarctica was mapped (bit haphazard to be honest) continued. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to tell the difference between a Sei and Minke whale the next time there is a sighting.
Tomorrow we’ll reach land which means we’re going to be whizzing about in zodiacs! I can’t wait as I love being out on the water. We were given a mandatory zodiac training (swing your feet towards sea when you get on and off) that afternoon.
I took part in cloud watching today. This might not sound all that interesting but I actually got to work for NASA! The point of the cloud watching is to report which clouds we see when NASA’s satellites are overhead so that they can check if what their satellites are reporting is true.
The cloud watching was part of Citizen Science, a program of activities that is held on board to assist with various scientific endeavours around the world.
I also did some bird watching as part of the program. Our aim was to report on the number, and type, of sea birds that we could see.
Over a 20 minute period we saw 5 species. I got to see my first wandering albatross! They are such an incredible creature.
They nest in the sub-Antarctica islands and love the wind. They have longest wing span of any bird on this earth, they can be up to 3 metres!
My birthday dinner was great fun! I was joined by two of the women from breakfast, 3 new friends they’d made and our cloud watching Expedition Team member. The food was as fantastic as ever. Although I was tempted to enjoy a wine with dinner I resisted as the sea sickness tablets I’m taking are making me feel very sleepy and I didn’t want to add alcohol to the mix.
As we were waiting for our desserts the music began . . .
The restaurant staff came out from the kitchen singing Happy Birthday, complete with guitar and tambourine! They danced their way over to the table and presented me with a birthday cake and a silly hat to wear. Such a funny, and delicious, surprise!
After dinner I got to see penguins swimming near the ship. They do this great trick of “porpoising” (leaping out of the water while swimming to catch a breath without slowing down) which is fantastic to watch.
“Whales on the stern” came the announcement! Is there any better way to end your birthday than to see whales surfacing?
When I made it back to my room I found a bottle of wine and a birthday card that my wonderful travel agent, Heather of Twin Track Expeditions, had arranged. This birthday is going to be hard to beat!