I wonder what the last items on Scott’s packing list were as he prepared for his fateful expedition to the South Pole a little over a century ago?
My name is Bob Zuur. I’m a marine biologist and Marine Advocate for WWF-New Zealand. I’m a member of the team Gareth Morgan has brought together on his Our Far South voyage to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. While I’ve been to the Auckland Islands more recently, this is my first trip to Antarctica since my university studies 35 years ago.
The last two items on my packing list were: an extra battery for my camera and an extra pack of seasickness patches. These reflect two contrasting feelings about what lies ahead over the next four weeks. Antarctica is a truly spectacular continent, with wildlife found nowhere else – I don’t plan to miss a single opportunity in this photographic nirvana. My camera gear has been checked and double-checked, with back-up options should something critical succumb to the antarctic cold and subantarctic damp. An extra battery is cheap insurance for that last photo of the day.
The Southern Ocean is the windiest and most turbulent of them all. I’ve heard wild stories about crew being tossed across cabins and passengers confined to days of misery in their bunks as seas raged around. Previous offshore sailing experience has shown that I’m not one of those who pukes as first wave strikes the bow, but nor do I possess the cast iron digestive system of seasoned sailors. So an extra pack of scopaderm should keep my stomach under control.
Scott’s decision to take ponies, rather than dogs, may well have cost his expedition and his life. The decision about our transport was made by the Our Far South team. The ice-strengthened Spirit of Enderby will carry us through the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic continent. She is, by all accounts a solid ship that survived last year’s terrible storm that sank the yacht Berserk in the Ross Sea. She is resistant to the ice that holed the long-liner Sparta a few months ago. Well, that’s what I’ve told my wife, who, hailing from land-locked Switzerland, is no mariner.
I’ll be providing you with regular updates on the progress of this voyage. I’ll be using my place on this voyage to highlight the global importance of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean to New Zealanders and people around the world…. And the threats it faces.