Early morning pink

My 0340 alarm sounds. I turn it off and think for moment that I want to stay snuggled deep in my sleeping bag for another hour. I get up, grab my staged clothes and socks and step into the salon. I greet the other two already there. One is going off-watch, the other is half way through his watch.

We are still anchored. The plan had been to depart between 0330-0400. Skipper Piotr is lying in his bed, already one coffee down. We wait impatiently, ready to pull anchor and be on our way.

At 0415 we are on our way. The gift for rising early in the pre-dawn cold is a soft slow sunrise. The day unfolds in soft pinks and purples over the stark white mountains on the Antarctic Peninsula. Gradually the colors change from shades of purples to light blue and finally a deep blue sky. Rarely is the payoff not worth the trouble.

Quietly we glide through the water, engine purring, water turning to glass. Picking our way through the icebergs and growlers, we stare in amazement at the incredible beauty all around. Trying to capture the essence of the morning in words or on camera is like trying to hold water in your hands.

Slowly, the rest of the crew start to rise and peek outside for a glimpse of what the day may hold. The next watch grabs a cup of coffee and sits in the pilothouse, figuring out the right clothing combination..


By 0800 the galley watch is up and has hit tea and coffee ready. Porridge follows shortly afterwards. Five of us sit in the salon eating and conversing. The word ‘orcas’ is heard from above deck. We all drop our food and drink and scramble to the deck. Grabbing gloves and cameras, we look expectantly in the direction given by the watch.

The boat slows, drifting, while a family of four orcas gracefully glide by. Rising for air, dorsal fins glistening in the sun, they pass is front of us near the ice, looking for food or just transiting through the channel.

Seeing wildlife in its own environment, visitors in this harsh unforgiving environment, we embrace these moments and suffer the uncomfortableness. Forgotten gloves and hats are dismissed until we are too far away to see the orcas. We scurry below deck to finish our breakfast, gather our gloves and hats near to us and warm up.

We are ready for whatever comes next…

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