The Spirit of Mawson - Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 - 2014

Australasian Antarctic Expedition

Day 17 – Christmas Eve

Posted by Graeme - 24 December 2013

It’s often said that Antarctica is a dynamic environment that can rapidly transform at a moments notice. Today we experienced that first-hand, as we came down from a high of exceptionally good weather to find ourselves surrounded by thick, impassable pack ice. Too dense to travel through, the sea-ice has stopped the mighty Shokalskiy in its tracks despite aggressive charges by Captain Igor. The ship is now resigned to wait for a change in wind conditions to loosen or dissipate the sea ice before we can escape to open water. These are the challenging conditions for which Antarctica is so well known.

While our ice-bound predicament is clearly frustrating to some, others have assured me that they don’t mind at all. The adversity adds to the sense of adventure and satisfies a primal desire for battle with the elements. After all, what is an Antarctic expedition without time spent trapped in the ice, and there are certainly worse places to be stuck than in a seascape of magnificent icebergs.

Strong cold winds have kept most indoors today, many busy preparing for the Christmas festivities ahead. The ability to make the best of any situation is a quality alive and well in this resourceful group of expeditioners. The ship passages are now adorned with festive decorations, the Secret Santa box is overflowing, and an army of gingerbread men have emerged from an afternoon session with the chefs.

Others have used the down time to rest and recharge the batteries. A good proportion of conversations today have revolved around sheepish confessions of late rises and post-lunch snoozes. A midday knot-tying session had to be postponed because some of the organizers were particularly zealous about catching up on sleep.

It’s 9 pm now, and Christmas Eve on the Shokalskiy has well and truly kicked off. There were Santa hats during dinner and the sounds of carols in the bar are flowing through the ship. Everyone’s embracing the Christmas spirit and bracing themselves for a big day of celebrations and gluttony. Rather than writing about the festivities I feel like I should join in, so will sign off now and find a Santa hat to wear.