17 februari 2008
At the moment it is 3.00 in the night and we are drifting further south through the Gerlach Straight. Heinz decided to pull the sails and stop the engine, because of icebergs and low visibility in this darkness and snowfall. Today was a thrilling day right from the start. At 5 this morning we started by lifting 50 meters of anchor chain with our bare hands after which we sailed out of Deception Island at 6.30 am. Just outside of deception island past “neptune`s bellow”, we spotted the first whales of this trip. Just 100 meters away were humpback whales; a beautiful sight. This promised to be a great whale watching day. During the day several people spotted whale blows in the distance but unfortunately no more than that.
Just before sunset, however, more whales were spotted and we sailed towards them and stopped the engine. What followed was a spectaculair sight! These humpback whales turned out to be very inquisitive and playful. There were about seven of them and they started circling the boat and swimming underneath us. Sometimes surfacing just a meter from deck! So close that every detail of their skin was visible, every scar and all irregularities. Sometimes these whales created huge air bubbles from below which erupted at the surface while we were “oooh-ing and ahh-ing”. Everybody was shouting of joy like small children. These animals were amazing and so large! Some were approximately 15 meters long; about 2/3 of our ship! At one point I was standing at the bow of the ship, snow was falling on my head which felt cold to my face, on the horizon were islands covered by huge amounts of snow and ice, and just a meter away several humpback whales were playing and surfacing. This was more than I could have wished for before I started this journey to Antarctica!