Jan 6th Sunday –
Yalour Island and Wordie House and Vernadsky (Ukrainian research center that is still operating today.) and BBQ night.
After breakfast we had a 9:00 launch to Yalour Island or zodiac ride. Glen, Chris and Pam caught one of the 1st boats out so Glen could sketch/paint the penguins.
The zodiac landed on the rocky shore and we headed up the small snowy hill to see the penguins. This island had a lot of rocky places without snow. There were 1,000 of penguins nesting; some of their chicks were also a little older than we have seen before. Penguins were all around us on the craggy hills. The skuas were also in the neighborhood looking for a chick or egg to snatch. Chris was told by one of the guides told Chris that a skua had just managed to snag a chick. The skua didn’t take it far so Chris saw it working on eating the chick. Chris and Pam headed back to the zodiac ride. Mike was our driver this time. We were going out to meet with the other zodiac boats to see if we could find whales. On our way we heard a loud noise and looked toward the iceberg in time to see like an avalanche happening on one of the icebergs. Then we saw the iceberg rise up in the water before teetering backwards. The iceberg had flipped! Mike said we needed to get away from the iceberg because here comes the wave.
Back to hunting whales. Mike took us to where the other zodiacs were and we found a mother and her calf. Only their backs would come out of the water and sometimes their tails could be seen. After the mother dived down we lost her, Mike thought she went under the iceberg so we headed around the iceberg. The whales were fairly close to the zodiacs. It seemed like the whales were guiding us back to the boat. The mother and calf seemed to have met up with another group of whales. Mike said there were at least 4 whales in the pod. Headed back to the boat after whale watching.
This afternoon we went to Wordie House and Vernadsky. Glen and Pam went to Vernadsky Research Center and Kevin and Chris went to Wordie House. The Russian research station is manned by 11 men. They make their own vodka which Glen agreed it was very smooth and 5 minutes later the alcohol hits. Pam took a sip and that was too strong for her. One of the men built a 2 octave piano for entertainment. The men at this station work for 1 year before rotating home. The guide took us on a tour of the facility but first requested we remove our boots before walking around inside the station. The first floor was for research (this base discovered the ozone hole) and the second floor was for relaxation. This base used to belong to UK but they “sold” it to the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians were very happy with the bar that the UK men built. Many visitors get to sample the Vodka when they visit. The best part of this landing was getting your passport stamped and getting to taste homemade Ukrainian Vodka! For 3 dollars US you could get a shot of Vodka. Glen said it was the smoothes Vodka he’d ever tried – Pam thought she was trying to swallow gasoline. We had been separated into 2 groups and the boys went to Wordie House 1st and then the groups swapped.
The crew cooked us a BBQ so we all wore our jackets (not Kevin) and gloves (not Kevin) and went through a fabulous serving line. The chicken was the best but the rest of the meal was also great. But the cherry on top was eating on deck while looking at the ice bergs, continent and islands with no windows in between us. They served baked potatoes, corn on the cob, short ribs, steak, sausages, and hot dogs. The salad table had a lovely salmon platter as well as cole slaw, bread, salad makings and vegetables. Dessert was baked apple with marzipan in the core, topped with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate ice cream.