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 of the accommodation adds another layer of order and, in keeping with procedures, we have a lifeboat drill too. All this has helped to take our minds off the sad parting which took place soon after 11am this morning.

Some, spent much of last night in revelry. But, after breakfast at around 9am the Ice Group gathered with their friends, old and new, on the main deck. Everyone embraced and said their goodbyes. It was a sombre moment but we all put on brave faces and shared a laugh or two with, perhaps, a longer than normal pause between them. The crane was rigged, the basket was hooked up (no ‘snotter’ required this time) and in two groups of three, Ran, Brian, Ian, Rob, Spencer and Richmond were lifted lightly off the deck, swung out over the water and deposited firmly on the ice. And that was it. They were gone.
With a blast from the ship’s whistle we swung and steamed slowly out of the bay, all hands waving at the receding group as they shrank and were eventually swallowed up by the vast expanse of Antarctica.
We are at sea now. There is a long slow swell and lightly dispersed sea ice. It is a grey day and cold. Our emotions are cushioned by the order of the ship’s routines and, even if our minds are on other things, we are looking north and heading home.
Best wishes,