Photos and commentary from Feldman family vacations.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Kayaking around Cuverville Island & Errera Channel

From Antarctica
Today was a real adventure for us – ocean kayaking.  I was grateful to my daughter Michelle who patiently taught me how to paddle a kayak last summer in the Long Island Sound.  Ocean kayaks are supposed to be virtually impossible to tip over as they are a hybrid of regular kayaks and inflatable ones, and have no upper deck. They have a rudder at the back which can be operated by your feet --  one foot forward and one foot back and the paddles have drip guards on them . Naturally I let Mike, the engineer, handle the rudder.  You enter the kayak from a platform which is next to the ship.  They put a little yellow box around your neck with an emergency button on it that you can push at any time should you need help (our leader stressed that needing hot chocolate was not an emergency!) and would automatically go off if you landed in the water. I was not nervous about this activity because I once kayaked with my brother-in-law off the coast of Maine where the water is also quite frigid. We were given strict instructions about where to go, to what we could get close, and from what to stay away.  We could get no closer than one hundred feet to ice cliffs and “growler” icebergs (defined as less than three feet out of the water).   We could get much closer to brash ice, which is the small chunks of ice.

So Mike and paddled out in this lovely cover towards Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel.  We had only paddled a little way when suddenly a leopard seal jumps up with a penguin in its mouth – thrashing it in one direction and then the other – just like you see on Animal Planet only we were a few feet from it happening live.  Of course, then seal ate the penguin.  You felt sorry for the little penguin but then these animals have to eat and it is part of the food chain.  Amazing.  We continued to paddle around the channel for about an hour observing nature in all its glory.  It is here that we saw our first Antarctic plants – there are only two that grow here – plankton and diacoms.  Mostly – moss!  Mike has a great picture of the mountain where these lovely burnt orange and green plants are growing on the side of the rocks.

Just spotted some Minke whales so must go port side.  I hope this does not sound silly but to me it is such a privilege to be here in this breathtaking frozen wilderness. 

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