Hello all. Greetings from the gut wrenching Astrolabe vessel currently beyond 50 degrees south, battling on strong.

Its near 7am here somewhere on the southern ocean. I have been away from home exactly one week.

I was woken having been rolled out of bed this morning at 5am by the swell in the sea and have stayed upright since. A can of diet coke had been thrown off my desk in the night and exploded on the floor. Getting up off the floor and to the door, meant croc-skating, clinging on for dear life. Death by CocaCola would have secured my early entry into the 2012 Darwin Awards.

You walk around struggling against shifting gravity to stay upright … feeling very drunk. Like a slow motion fairground ride. There is nothing romantic about this. Its awful and yet at the same time fun… like you are living a very sick joke indeed.

I am on Scopaderm patch, metoclopromide, seaband, prochlorperazine, and ginger. So far no vomit.

Good news: Apparently Dome C Concordia will have VSAT in place for winterover which means internet… and therefore long distance internet shopping.

I have spent the past few days onboard watching for wildlife of any sort that may frequent these parts. One morning I woke very early for sunrise. I was joined by 2 whales, port-side off the boat. Everyone else was asleep. A very special moment.

The Wandering Albatross may as well be sea surfers. They are lonely, majestic giants of the southern ocean and accompany our vessel. They soar and cruise gale force 10 winds. Teasing, touching the trough of each wave before pulling up and out of the path of the tumultuous crash of the follow through. Sadly our boat isnt so lucky – suffering the waves full itinerary of punishment for both our own and the birds mockery.

I visited the boats workshop and did some drilling – not easy to use power tools on a moving boat. I had to drill some camera pieces to allow my equipment to fit my tripod. It worked.

Day 3 and although numbers have dwindled at breakfast, lunch and dinner… Im still there. Toast, coffee, prochlorperazine, a croissant. For dessert? Simple – metoclopromide and a few tracks by REM and Bob Marley.

Better go and check on the VIPs. Check the pulse for 10 seconds… Look Listen and Feel. So far so good. They are still alive.

I hear some commotion of a struggling passenger… MAYDAY MAYDAY, they shout as they vomit. Probably a joke? Frenchie turned to them and said to calm down… his reassurance… its not May, its only January. I smiled back. I think he missed the point. A message is sent: The ships doctor is needed on the bridge.

Oh well, its more interesting than the Tuesday morning othropaedics operating list im missing back home. Apparently cannulating someone on the southern ocean is a challenge! Looking for volunteers… SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL, BRAVE MEN WANTED.

The radio above me crackles… 12 metre swells expected before lunch. The crackles become cackles.

Oh dear god. The joke is on me.


L’Astrolabe dans le pack glaciaire by ipev