I have now had two nights at sea and seem to have been able to avoid seasickness, so today I am brave enough to read and write. Yesterday was spent watching the swell, sleeping (seasickness tablets made me beautifully drowsy), sighting a first albatross and small seal, many mutton-birds, and generally recovering from the extreme excitement of departure. I have seen the harp trunk fastened down firmly in the heli-deck and I am hoping that once we get to the calmer Antarctic waters I’ll be able to open it up and and have a play next to the icebergs. A fellow passenger has suggested I put some potatoes in the harp once I get to it, to help against the extreme dryness in Antarctica!
I have a workspace for all my boxes (recording and electronics gear) and the little harp. These all had to be tied down firmly to stop them sliding about in the swell, but I managed to extract the little harp this morning and get some good practice done, kneeling on the floor. I already feel my playing fitting in to the breathing rhythm of the slow swell of the ocean. There are 5,000 meters beneath us full of mysteries, and our brightly coloured orange ship is ploughing forward with confidence.
There has been a rather dramatic change to our voyage plans. An iceberg is blocking the harbour at Mawson Station, trapping a 30 km shelf of ice that should have broken up and gone out to sea in January. This means we might have to do the resupply from that distance by helicopter. For me this means the harp would be exposed to cold temperatures for much longer. If the ice does not shift by the time we get there I will have to weigh up the options and risks. The Aurora will stop at Davis station first to allow more time for the ice to break and move off, so there is still hope. We were forewarned that one needs always to be prepared for the unexpected in Antarctica!”
[See the Photo Gallery for more images from the departure]