March 13th – Wilhelmina Bay

Waking up to the cloudiest, snowiest day….it was finally cold. A day you would honestly picture what it actually felt like to be in Antarctica. We have been so lucky with sunshine and beautiful temps; however I thoroughly enjoyed this day. It was mystical and provided different kinds of lighting to see nature at its best. We were able to see beautiful reflections of the Icebergs because of the gloomy weather on the zodiac rides.

Arriving in Wilhelmina Bay, we were promised whales…..and that is certainly what we got!

Wilhelmina Bay is a bay 24 kilometres (15 mi) wide between the Reclus Peninsula and Cape Anna along the west coast of Graham Land on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-99 led by Adrien de Gerlache. The bay is named for WilhelminaQueen of the Netherlands, who reigned from 1890 to 1948.[1]

Wilhelmina Bay is dubbed “Whale-mina Bay” for its large number of humpback whales. It is a popular destination for tourist expedition ships to Antarctica thanks to its abundant whale population and spectacular scenery. The bay is surrounded by steep cliffs full of snow and glaciers. An almost perfect pyramid-shaped peak towers over the water.

Whales whales and more whales alright. I was blown away by these magnificent humpbacks.  Even though we were so close on the zodiacs, it is hard to appreciate just how huge they really are.  I counted 20 whales in viewing.  WOW!  Waiting patiently while watching these wonderful creatures….I wanted that perfect flute picture.  I was blessed with a double flute and some fellow guests on the zodiac in the background.

Throughout cruising around this area we saw rafts of penguins, an iceberg turn over, leopard seals once more and crabeater seals while looking at the whales.

This would also be our second 7th continent landing!  Another exciting day! While we only walked along a small piece of shoreline, the views were most impressive. How can they not right?  It started to snow wet flakes, I was sooo happy!  I loved it, this was the site of a whaling station, which has since moved to the Falkland Islands.

After a morning of excursions and a nice hearty lunch….It was time to get what turned out to be 95% of the guests from the ship into the freezing arctic waters for the infamous polar plunge.  What a brave bunch of people.  I am Canadian now and I have experienced some pretty cold glacier fed waters, and this still took my breath away! Totally recommend the dip…you are perfectly warm once out of the water.

Water temp – 2.6 Celsius and -1 for Air Temp.

After all the action for the day, we were informed that the Drake passage weather was no looking so good and it would be in our best interest and safety to leave a day early.  We had been so fortunate with weather and fit so much into our itinerary, this worked out very well. This was also our first information that the world was changing and that International flights were being cancelled all over the world due to COVID. It was best for everyone that we high tail it home.

 

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