Just lately, we have been giving John the chance to inform us heaps about what occurred throughout his current time at Franz Josef Land. This Russian archipelago simply appears to maintain on giving, as you may uncover for your self whenever you embark on one of many Arctic vacation cruises we provide. Day 10
Friday. This morning, for the primary time throughout this expedition, we woke to cloudy, overcast skies, however at the least it wasn’t foggy. We had been anchored off Rubini Rock on Hooker Island, house to 1000’s of seabirds, the place we watched Brunnich’s guillemots, kittiwakes and little auks vying for house on slender ledges and crevices, amongst a cacophony of sound. Particularly recognisable had been the ‘kitt-e-wake’ calls – I by no means realised that the title was onomatopoeic. The outcrop is basalt and full of wonderful geological strata and shapes, particularly the basic hexagons. We spent ages on the Zodiac across the base of the Rock and offshore, the place we tried to sneak up, with the outboard off, on guillemots and kittiwakes perched on floating ice. We did handle to get fairly shut, too, earlier than the previous dived and the latter simply scattered into the air. Fascinating remnants of Soviet historical past On the alternative facet of the bay, BukhtaTikhaya, or Calm Bay, are the stays of a Soviet climate station, which was operational from 1929 till 1959. It’s now manned in the course of the summer time by a small workforce from the Russian Arctic Nationwide Park Service, which is step by step restoring the picket buildings into protected situation as a historic monument. We went ashore there this afternoon for a go searching and – contemplating they actually do not get any vacationers, simply us as soon as this 12 months and the 50 Years of Victory 4 instances – acquired an enthusiastic welcome from workers. One workers member was wearing a polar bear costume, whereas one other was attired as a postman standing by the unique letterbox. They do have a postal service right here, so we despatched postcards house – they are going to be picked up by the icebreaker in a few weeks. Then, the fog rolled in and we had been hurried again to the ship, which was now invisible from the shore. Our driver stated that these situations had been really the norm for Franz Josef Land and we had simply been extremely fortunate over the previous couple of days. We weren’t complaining! Assembly a real pioneer in polar exploration
Now we have additionally been having fun with a collection of talks from members of the expedition workforce on historical past, geology, fauna and flora, and many others. One speaker was Felicity Aston, who I vaguely recognised once we boarded. Then, when she began her speak, I remembered why. She had given a chat on the Birdfair in Rutland a few years in the past. She is an actual polar explorer and is the primary (and solely) lady to have crossed Antarctica solo and unsupported – she skied from the Ross Ice Shelf, by way of the South Pole, to the Ronne Ice Shelf. Her speak was about how she coped bodily and psychologically – and although I had heard it earlier than, it was nonetheless fascinating and fairly inspiring. She is de facto attention-grabbing to speak to, too. In order that night time, I used to be in mattress and not using a view for the primary time – only a blanket of fog.