“Terra Firma”

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“Terra Firma”

“Terra Firma

By Anton Bowring, Cape Town. Yesterday the expedition support team stepped ashore properly for the first time since we left Cape Town on 7th January. Although we got off the ship in Antarctica, the ice on which we stood was afloat. Even though we were surrounded by a landscape of undulating whiteness, we were no more on terra firma than the ship itself. Inevitably we are all feeling unsettled.


By Anton Bowring, on board SA Agulhas. It’s ten pm and it’s hot. The air temperature is way up in the mid 20s. We have slowed to seven knots and we are about to alter course. Cape Point lighthouse is just seven miles ahead. Looking at the chart, I can tell you that it flashes blink, blink, pause, blink every thirty seconds. The light itself stands eighty-seven meters above sea level and in good…


By Anton Bowring, on-board the SA Agulhas. The lavatory in my cabin exploded this evening. At the time I was minding my own business and, having minded it, I pulled the lever – not hard, mind you. Well, I was terrified, the thing erupted with a belching noise, half gurgle and half woosh! Great clumps of water leapt into the air and crashed on the floor increasing in size until I was pressed to…

“Farewell” – by Anton Bowring

The good thing about ships is that they encourage natural order. As soon as you get back to sea, the crew settle immediately into their responsibilities. Unfinished business and external influences become muted and everyone immediately attends to watch keeping duties, or, by securing ropes and loose items prepares the ship for a return to the open se…a. As it is Sunday, the Captain’s inspection…

“What a swell parting this is!” – by Anton Bowring

My report this evening is short. Although it was yet another beautiful day, first the sea ice and then a low but effective swell kept us out of Crown Bay for most of the day. There was nothing to do except prowl up and down peering, when possible, through binoculars at the black dots which were our colleagues on the remains of the ice shelf. Although it didn’t seem risky to nose into the head of…

Update from aboard the SA Agulhas – by Anton Bowring

Update from aboard the SA Agulhas - by Anton Bowring

We have consoled ourselves in the knowledge that we had an unusually good week since we arrived in Crown Bay. It is unfortunate but not entirely surprising that our luck would run out. For the second day we have not been able to get at our berth against the ice shelf. It is made all the more frustrating by the fact that today was a beautiful day – a beautiful day for unloading drums – if only w…

Off Ice – by Anton Bowring

Off Ice - by Anton Bowring

It has been a frustrating day. In my report yesterday I made a foolish comment about being irritatingly smug on account of the fine weather. Well, today, all that changed. The wind swung round to the north east overnight and pressed all the sea ice into the bay. This meant that, on the ship, we could only look at the tiny black dots, our Ice Group, on the distant shore and wonder how they wer…

Everything’s Going to Plan

Everything's Going to Plan

A risk of sounding irritatingly smug, we had another beautiful day today. There was great industry from the outset. It was warm enough to work without gloves and everyone seemed to be in possession of an electric drill and focussed on the cabooses, fixing everything down against the ravages of weather that lie ahead. Everywhere you looked there were people up ladders, on their backs under t…

Making Progress

Making Progress

By Anton Bowring: The sea ice cleared the bay overnight so that we could land the support team at 8am as usual. The crane is busy unloading full drums and re-loading the empties. Up the track towards the depot lines, work continues to prepare the living caboose and the science caboose for the Ice Group to move in. The big job is getting the padded tea cosies to fit over each caboose tightly and…

A Close Shave – by Anton Bowring

A Close Shave - by Anton Bowring

(Please note this update was written late last night, and relates to events which happened yesterday. Due to comms limitations over night, we could only upload it this morning) We remained nosed into the ice shelf by our unloading site all night. It was very calm and the ship remained in position without buffeting. Today started as usual. At 8 am the basket was swinging over the ship’s side and…

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