Jan 8: On the National Geographic's Explorer

During the middle of the night the ship left the protection of the Beagle Channel and headed south out to sea. The gentle rocking of the ship lulled everyone to sleep. in spite of having 23 hours of sunlight, so it didn't get dark until 11:45pm -- lasting only until 5:11am. Thank goodness the ship has blackout curtains on every cabin window.

The day has been divided into "eat" and "listen and learn" groupings. A full buffet breakfast followed by a lecture on the birds of Antarctica by Magnus titled "The Fit and the Fierce" started the morning. A stroll out on the stern of the ship to view any albatross that may be hitching a ride and then inside to warm up and rest before lunch!

The albatross are the biggest birds in this area measuring wingspan of over 6 feet. They glide effortlessly behind the ship's tailwind. Quite a sight to see. Hopefully there will be pictures coming in the very near future to illustrate this.

The lunch was spectacular and very plentiful. This crew does not want anyone to go hungry!! After lunch is a lesson in how to use your camera. The continent is called the White Continent for a reason and the photographers (Jim Richardson from NG and Eric Guth from Lindblad) walked the groups through the right settings so everyone's pictures should turn out.

The exciting news of the day is that because of the calm weather we are making faster time than what was originally thought. We should be to Antarctica by breakfast tomorrow with the plan to go ashore right after.

Tonight is the captain's cocktail party and then dinner. Need to rest up for the first step off the end of the zodiac! It could be a big one. But also the beginning of the "waddle with the penguin" time.