Murray Harbour to Enterprise Island

After a 2-3am ice watch, I went back to bed and was next woken up by the engine going on at 6am. However, as we had all done the ice watch, they had said that we could stay in bed and so I got up just before 8am to be greeted by breakfast on deck in Charlotte Bay. This is named after the fiancée of the second in command of the De Gerlache expedition. The engine went off and we had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, freshly baked scones, muffins and bread in complete peace on deck in the sunshine. The peace and quiet of just drifting meant we could hear whales blowing somewhere in the distance and so we joked that they had arranged a swim past during breakfast. After a relaxing hour or so, the engine went back on and we headed through the fresh sea ice further into the bay.

Within half an hour the swim past we had joked about happened! A lone humpback, possibly a calf but still humungous, stuck its head up just beside the boat around 5 metres away. The engine was immediately turned off and what followed was a remarkable 15 minutes. The whale kept swimming around us, occasionally sticking its mouth out of the water and at other times arching its back and diving. It seemed really intrigued by the boat as at one point it followed us as we drifted just a few feet behind and then, slowly and ponderously, swam right up to the transom and slowly dived just below the rudder as we all hung over the transom, mouths agape. The clarity of the water meant that we could see every detail. We could possibly even have counted the barnacles on it had we not all been so amazed by what was going on. Eventually it dived away and we all just carried on staring not quite believing what we had just seen.

From there we headed right down to the end of Charlotte Bay to see the glaciers at the head of the bay – as ever appropriate adjectives elude me. On our approach the wind went from zero to around 20 knots of very cold wind as the katabatic winds fell off the glacier straight into us, but even this didn’t diminish the experience, it just froze the moment!

The next stop was Portal Point at the western end of the entrance to Charlotte Bay. Here, while the Tecla drifted, we went ashore in the Zodiac. Landing on the granite rocks we then walked up through the snow bank to get a view over the Gerlache Strait – a very impressive sight in the sunshine. The others then headed up another snow field to look at the remains of a British Antarctic Survey hut, but Simon and I walked around the rocks at sea level to watch a lone gentoo penguin and a few Weddell seals.

The final leg of the day was another 8 miles or so southwest to Enterprise Island. Given what happened next this is really quite an appropriate name as we boldly went into new mooring territory. In the corner of the western bay of the island is a wreck of a whaling ship called the Governoren. We headed towards it expecting to anchor somewhere close until we noticed that the crew were getting lines and fenders out. At this point we realised we were going alongside the wreck. The bow sits quite proud of the water, and she slopes down at quite an acute angle so as we approached we could see the stern of the ship directly underneath us. Once close the crew embraced their inner cowboy and tried to lasso the various cleats and protrusions on the side of the wreck. It took a few goes but eventually we had a bowline, stern line and a spring all attached and pulled ourselves alongside. The whole thing takes rafting up to a new level and is possibly one of the weirdest ‘marina’ berths around!