Bay of Whales – Setting a record, Emperors and Polar Plunge

Saturday, January 28th

We had breakfast as the ship reached the far eastern edge of the Ross Sea Ice Shelf and sailed into the ‘Bay of Whales’. The Bay was named by Shackleton in 1908 for the large number of whales sighted as they approached. It was here that Roald Amundsen over-wintered before setting off to become the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911. Because the coastline here is temporary and changes constantly, nothing remains of Amundsen’s camp ‘Framheim’.

But we were not after whales particularly… there aren’t anymore whales here than anywhere else… no, the real reason for coming here was the attempt to set the record for the furthest south any marine vessel has navigated. The record at the time was held by a small Polish yacht, the Selma, who achieved 78º43.936′ in February 2015. Together with Captain Dag we were all ready to go for it!

Everyone on board (from the bridge or one of the decks) was watching and checking gps devices, as the captain skillfully and cautiously maneuvered The World to within meters of the ice shelf while the gps readings slowly but surely kept going more south. And there it was: the magic number was reached: 78º43.997S / 163º41.421W!!!! Captain Dag ‘Master of the World’ did it, and now holds the world record of sailing a vessel the furthest South! Naturally that called for champagne and cake!!

Furthest reachable point in the ice shelf identified.
Captain Dag (middle) on the bridge.
How close can we get?
My GPS. The official one was a tad further south still.
The Captain and The Cake.

After establishing a new world record and while repositioning the ship we noticed a lovely group of Emperors penguins being kept in line by a very actively gesturing Adélie. So down came the zodiacs and we went for a closer look. Not only did we see that group, we also saw two Adélies on our way back to the ship. Crab eater seals and a leopard seal were also spotted, and, the very elusive Ross Seal. Unfortunately our zodiac didn’t see these.

Emperors being orchestrated by an Adélie.
Emperor Penguins and the Adélie.
Zodiac cruising.

And still the fun didn’t end: next up: The Polar Plunge!! Since I was bi-polar already (I plunged in both Arctic and Antarctic waters) I decided to give it a miss but Stephen (also bi-polar) had a go at it.

Before the plunge.
Almost in the bracing Antarctic waters. Almost in. That’s me (Caroline) filming with the GoPro. Once back home we will put the movie here as well.
Marianne and Stephen: after the plunge – hot tub and hot chocolate.
This fellow came floe-ting next to the platform from where the plunge took place.