Was one of the earliest moments in PR when sailors referred to a ship “coming alive” in really bad weather? We boarded One Ocean’s Akademik Ioffe in Ushuaia the day after the ship had been hammered by a bad storm while rounding Cape Horn.

Even the most stable ship in Antarctica had “come alive” and left a lot of folk wishing they no longer were, as well as deposited a lot of things where they weren’t meant to be. The cabins were restored and gleaming but I had to extricate a suitcase I’d left in the hold from under several boxes that had relocated.

Dropping the lines took its usual course. A lot of nervous passengers came on board but were reassured when they found their bags in the cabins, people photographed other people in bulky SOLAS lifejackets during the lifeboat drill conducted in a cold wind blowing down the Beagle Channel, and everyone rushed for dinner.

The after-dinner briefing was illuminating. We have Ron Naveen on board who runs Oceanites with the US National Science Foundation. His 28 years of censuses tell us all what’s happening in the penguin world. He, and most of his six crew are to be dumped onto a yacht in the South Shetland Islands in about 10 days from now.

When the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton and the Wild family (already “the Wild Bunch”) were introduced and the funeral services outlined, the reactions were mixed. Some nodded with the wisdom of the pre-informed. I was impressed to find we were not just picking up a minister for the burial service but a gravestone to go on Wild’s new grave in Grytviken, too. And one of my dinner companions burst into tears. That was a surprise.

She later confided that she found a first edition of Alfred Lansing’s “Endurance” among her parents’ effects about 15 years ago and reading that gave her the strong desire to visit Antarctica. To find that she was going to participate in burying Frank Wild in his final resting place created complete emotional overload.

I share her emotions, if not their manifestation. As albatross follow and Magellanic penguins  watch us pass I’ve never felt so happy heading to a funeral.

Comments are closed.