We reached the entrance to the Lemaire Channel, a narrow passageway between two towering mountain ridges, and received a message from the Captain that there were too many ice bergs clogging the route for us to chance sailing through. He said we could get “kind of close”, and as the currents would have it we made it so close that we could not turn around. The ship slowed to a nearly unnoticeable pace, and silently sailed through the Lemaire Channel, barely 180 feet between the towering rock faces at it’s narrowest point.
I stood on the top observation deck, and about a third of the way into the canyon a mike whale glided up next to the port side of the ship. From above, I was able to see his entire body, popping up for a breath on one side, then diving and spinning beneath the bow, and appearing at the starboard surface a few seconds later. From my perch, I could watch not only the whale, but also the 40 passengers down on the bow, running from port rail to starboard rail, excitedly chasing the giant mammal. The sunset was spectacular, and my Dad and I played a game of “Is that an ice berg, or an island?” as the massive towers of ice created shadows on the horizon. The One Ocean staff brought the bar to the front deck, and we enjoyed the brilliant sun set with hot toddies and genuine awe at the Antarctic wilderness.