Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crabeater Seals can fly

Sun shine and a crystal clear mornings haven't been happening that much here in Antarctica this February !

But when they have it is certainly been something to savor for everyone on board Xplore.

The islands of Hovgaard and Pleneau were our anchorage and birthday location for Troll, feeling that she was getting very old we decided to have a grand party the evening before, and invited great chum and mate Henk and his guests to join in the celebrations.

The rising of the sun did bring rays of light which for a few of the team were a tad too bright considering the strength of the birthday punch and the copious amounts of other delightful liquor's that were consumed during the night, but the warmth of the sun reminded us why Antarctica is so amazing.

Sitting on deck with a few of the team, I was positioned at the stern of Xplore having a quiet "Lets get my head together" type of a start along with a needed cup of tea.

Others were on deck including Assaf one of our able bodied team members from Israel, cleaning the decks with buckets of crystal Antarctic water, I was noticing a Crabeater seal swimming towards Xplore, and the floating shore lines which we use to keep us in position.

I didn't notice this crabeater at the party the night before, but it was a busy night, because this chap didn't have his bright brain cells working too well either, because as he was swimming up to our floating lines he just plum forgot or didn't see them !

With a splash and a great flap he whacks straight into the line, makes a rubbish sort of a dive down to cool off his sore nose.

This really gave me a chuckle, silly bugger, and I went back off to my fairy head land admiring the views with a sweet little smile on my face, oh nature can be so amusing !

Within about 20 seconds of day dreaming we were all startled to hear a great Ge splash from the Starboard side of the boat, my first reaction was that bucketing washing Assaf had fallen in the drink !! but as I quickly had turned my head, it wasn't Assaf entering the water but the end of the Crabeater who had tried to jump up on board Xplore !

Now to get a few figures straight here, Crabeaters when fully grown are around 400 Kg, the height of Xplore from the water to the deck edge is about 1.6 meters, and the life lines and stanchions are about another 0.6 of a meter higher on top of that.

Well the silly bugger, must have known that we were a great place for a feed and a drink because if he had managed to flop over that last little height of the life lines we certainly would have been in for very rude awakening, because a 400 Kg Crabeater isn't the nicest of guests to try a shoo off the boat at any time of the day.

Well, he left his mark in all of our minds, and he also left his mark on Xplore, the 600 mm high stainless steel posts that hold up and support the life lines are strong bits of steel. The Crabeaters entrance meant that he bent one of these over at a 40 degree angle Oppps, that's something new on the work list to repair !

Antarctic Adventures continue as we head north east to Enterprise island

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