Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Danco Island

[Kyle]At lunch, Expedition weighed anchor and headed further north. We passed the entrance to Neko harbor and entered the Errera Channel. Partway through the channel, we encountered Danco Island. Danco was named after the geophysicist aboard de Gerlache's Belgian expedition who died along the way.

Heading North on a beautiful day

Expedition went just past the island and lowered anchor. Our position in the middle of the channel gave us long views in both directions of the dramatic Antarctic landscape. The sky cleared, allowing the low, bright sunlight to add to the beauty. It was absolutely breathtaking everywhere we looked.

We took the Zodiacs to the island, where most of the group formed a long line that zigzagged its way to the summit. It was a long climb, but not particularly difficult. All the way to the very top, we encountered adorable Gentoo penguins.

I've had to rethink my notions about penguins. The little guys look so ungainly on land with their short legs and their fat little bodies, but they are incredible climbers. They use their clawed feet as crampons and occasionally make use of their sharp beaks as ice axes. They easily left us behind as they chugged their way way up to the top, hopping from rock to rock. I don't think I ever saw one of them trip. On the way down, they either run on blurry legs or toboggan on their bellies. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call a human who is good at climbing a real penguin instead of a real mountain goat.

Exploring Danco with the Gentoos

On the way back to the ship, we took a zodiac tour through our largest icebergs yet, gaping at their many-faceted blueness.

Up close to the icebergs

We boarded Expedition, who pulled up anchor and then headed out the remainder of the Errera Channel and into the open water between the mainland and the South Shetland Islands.

As we left the peninsula, the setting sun turned everything orange before the light faded for good. Expedition continued on. The passage would take all night.

Whales spouting all around us as we continue North

In the meantime, it was time for the Black and White Ball. This was not a formal affair, per se, but rather a costume party cobbled together from what's at hand. We were all encouraged to wear black and white, and if possible come up with a costume. With only a few minutes to prepare, Maryanne insisted that I give something a try. We ended up dressing me as the world's lamest Gentoo. Oh, well. All in good fun.

Upstairs at the ball, all of us that we're dressed as something other than just black and white clothes were asked to come on stage, introduce ourselves and give a little speech about the inspiration behind our costume. Oh, Great. I'm Kyle the Gentoo. I don't really know why I'm dressed like this. I managed to just avoid saying, "my wife made me."

Kyle doesn't exactly want to join in the party..
but he at least is in the same room!

Music then came up and we were asked to dance around the lounge in a big conga line. Well, that wasn't so bad. Then the Macarena started. Aw, come ON!

It was actually kind of fun. Some of the improvised costumes were pretty good. The highlight, especially for the ladies, was a good-looking guy in a kilt. It was initially confusing how this was a black and white costume, but then he explained that his kilt was the Black Watch Tartan. He then turned around and flashed his "white bits" to the shock of everyone. We thought he would have some funny underpants on but, no, he did not. It was a bit of a travesty of justice that he won second prize for that. First went to G Man. They had to do that. The company that owns the boat is called G Adventures. He referred to himself as a ship-based non-flying superhero. His outfit disturbingly featured tights with a very taught g-string on the outside. We were all wondering what those were doing in his luggage.

Good visibility, mostly sunny; Wind: S F5; Sea: slight; Air Temp: 11°C

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