On the last day of 2016, our cruise ship the Seabourn Quest, anchored just off Waterboat Point in Paradise Bay.
Here is Chile’s Antarctic Base which was active from 1951-58 and again briefly in the early 1980’s. The base was named after Chilean president Gabriel Gonzalez Videla who in the 1940’s became the first head of state of any nation, to visit Antarctica.
Waterboat Point is an official historic site under the Antarctic Treaty and this sign honours the smallest ever wintering-over party of just two men, who spent a year and a day in 1921-22 in a shelter they made out of an old whaling boat they found on the site. Maxime Lester and Thomas Bagshawe, 22 and 19-years-old respectively, were junior members of the British Imperial Expedition, and when their particular project was aborted because of lack of funds, they and two others hitched a ride on a Norwegian Whaling ship. Against the advice of the whalers, these two opted to stay over in Antarctica for a year. They survived the Antarctic winter ‘against the odds’ by extending the hulk of the old boat with packing cases, sacks and timber. This small, uncomfortable but almost weatherproof hut became their base, and they supplemented their meager supply of biscuits, baked beans, pemmican, sweets and crème-de-menthe sweets aand a little alcohol, with seal and penguin meat, as well as penguin eggs. They used seal blubber for heating and cooking fuel. When the two whaling Captains returned for them on the 18th December, they sent them away again, refusing to leave until they’d spent a full year there and completed their research. They left on the 13th January, 1922. Theirs is an incredible story of ‘survival against the odds’.
Whilst there, they did daily metrological measurements and conducted detailed studies of the wildlife. Bagshawe wrote the first scientific study of penguins and their development, and today the Gentoo penguins, the descendants of the ones he studied, nest in the ruins of the whaleboat shelter.
If you’re a penguin hugger, this is the place to go. You can really get up close and personal with the gorgeous Gentoos. This Mama-to-be even stood up from her nest to proudly show us her eggs. (I told her you’d like to see what she was sitting on.)
Here is Marilyn, the blondest and most glamorous of these red-beaked creatures. Our expedition leader told us that she’s very popular and never without a partner.
This jolly pair were most cooperative and posed very happily for their photo shoot.
We only had about an hour to explore, as there’s a limit to how many people are allowed on land at any one time. Passengers on our expedition cruise were split up into five groups, and as one lot left to rejoin the ship, the next ones were arriving.
At this point, we had travelled just over 3.500 km from our starting point in Valparaiso.
We still had another two weeks to go, so I have lots more to share with you.
Tonight we’re going out for dinner with friends to a restaurant who’s motto is “Eat, drink and be comfy.” It gets great reviews, so I’m looking forward to it very much. Hope you’re having a relaxing and fun weekend.