A Travellerspoint blog




sunny 30 °F


We have sailed from the Antarctic Peninsula to the South Shetland Islands and are now on one of the South Shetland Islands called Half Moon. And we are basking in the sun! Really. The water is cold and ice and snow predominate, but the sun warms us under our parkas. Ah, good old summertime on the Seventh Continent.

There’s a sail away party on deck as we leave for Ushuaia, Argentina, and the predictions are that we will sail across another Drake’s Lake and arrive back in South America mid-day Sunday.

The photos need no commentary, save
1. to point out that this is a NEW kind of penguin, the chinstrap variety, and everyone is very excited about that, and
2. to identify the last shot as the view outside our cabin door. See the smooth bay!

Posted by HopeEakins 05:32 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Penguins in the morning, penguins at night

semi-overcast 20 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.


Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation (both snow and ice) is 0.4 inches inland and slightly more on the Peninsula where we are anchored. Ice and snow cover the land because they fell millions of years ago and it is too cold for them to melt. BUT ... last night it snowed and the pool deck was white! Today it is very cold and drizzling a bit, and we are drifting near the Chilean base Gonzalez Videla. A mammoth mountain towers over us, and we aren’t walking around on the ship’s decks.

We are once again wearing many layers and waddling like the penguins we visit. The colony at this place is filled with Gentoo penguins, and they are not very attractive. This is molting season (remember, it’s SUMMER here) and the molting folks stand around shivering and the ground is littered with feathers. The feathers are smeared with excrement because there is no rain to wash it away so it just accumulates. It smells – a LOT. The penguin chicks are small; the adults are large and come in two shapes. The fat ones have gone into the sea to eat food for their young; after they regurgitate it they get back to normal size.

The human residents of the Chilean base were very glad to see us. They don’t get many visitors! They had a (very) little shop from which we sent a post card and a base station where we had our photo taken. Fourteen men live there and do some scientific research; they noted that there is one captain and one remote control for the television.

After seeing the sites we waddled back to the zodiac and were passed down from one guide to the next so we wouldn’t slip into the sea; once back, we were passed up from one crew member to another and then hosed off and sent to walk through some chemical solution (biosecurity). The last photos: our good friends Doug and Jane Kline returning to the ship and one of our waiters serving us hot chocolate after we were back onboard.

Tonight is formal night aboard the Whisper, so the men get to dress up like penguins.

Posted by HopeEakins 10:48 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)


The Seventh Continent

sunny 30 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.


We know the drill now. We arose early, ate breakfast while looking out at frozen landscape, dressed in our layers, and went down to board our zodiac. We are in the strangely named Paradise Bay, and the landscape is different today ... craggier mountains, a low cloud cover, ice floating all around us, and baby, it’s cold outside.

Today we didn’t make a wet landing but toured the area in our little boats. The first surprise happened right away; we sailed around the ship to a stationary zodiac – to which we latched on and were offered hot chocolate with Kahlua or Bailey’s . Well. After a sip (or two) we sailed to a floe on which basked a crab-eating seal with a beautiful coat and a sweet dog-like face. We watched Gentoo penguins play and petrels swoop, and we looked at a lot of ice. The photos don’t capture the colors of the ice. Actually ice is blue, intense gorgeous blue, and when it captures ice bubbles, the air makes it look white. We were offered a chance to fish a chunk of ice from the sea and take it back, rinse the salt off and have it in a drink. Apparently, the bubbles inside it were formed maybe ten thousand years ago and have been under ice pressure ever since, so when the ice melts in your drink the ancient air pops out and crackles. We didn’t do it because it meant taking off our gloves. Wusses.

The white hulled ship pictured here is the Silver Whisper as we sailed away from it. The black hulled ship is another member of the fleet, the Silver Cloud. The Cloud is an exploration vessel also in Paradise Bay, and the two ships sailed (very slowly) side by side while passengers and crew waved and shouted. On each vessel a crew member flourished a four foot cardboard hand on a stick. It really was amazing to see this apparition in the most remote place we have ever been.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:06 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)



sunny 30 °F

large_IMG_0493.jpglarge_IMG_0494.jpglarge_IMG_0506.jpglarge_IMG_0516.jpglarge_IMG_0507.jpglarge_IMG_0501.jpgIt is summer here in Antarctica: the days are 21 hours long. Last night we didn’t close the curtains all the way so about four o’clock this morning we awoke when brilliant light flooded our suite. Sun streamed across the ice and the reflection from the snow made everything shine and twinkle. After days of sailing through grey waters, we see 6000 foot tall mountains, icebergs that have calved pierced by turquoise spaces and crevasses. There is pink ice, blue ice, cream ice, brown ice, and every shade of white ice. There are snow tracks where melting snow has made patterns like someone has combed the mountainsides, and there are tracks that penguins make going back and forth to the water. There are no roads, no cars, no buildings, no wires, no people. Just snow and rocks and thousands of Gentoo penguins. And some humpback whales, blowing and playing shipside.

The Drake Passage was indeed Drake’s Lake. We sailed through easily, down Gerlache Passage to Danco Island where we stopped. We are not at anchor, we are drifting; whatever that distinction is, we aren’t moving.

So we started preparing for our expedition. Here are the layers: underwear, silk long underwear, synthetic long underwear, waterproof pants, socks, boots, then a hooded many-layered parka (red so they can always find us) which can be detached into three parkas and has zip pockets inside and outside, in the sleeves and in the lining. Then undergloves and overgloves and a scarf and hat (we left the neck gaiters behind). We were barely able to move but managed to waddle (a little like the penguins) down to deck three where we joined many other guests in red parkas. Some of them had fur hats. We were all very very hot.

Next into the zodiacs. Teams of two grabbed our wrists and moved us from one team to another across the loading platforms into our little boat. Once in, we sat and scootched ourselves along the side – and then we were off across the waters. How astounding, how fortunate we are, how amazing this is, what a privilege; how awesome, how mighty the snow and ice covered mountains, how many many many penguins. The rookery could be heard and smelled before we went ashore, thousands of them chattering raucously. The little guys leave the rookery, in pairs and trios and often alone, and they waddle to the water, hopping over rocks. They are pretty skinny until they emerge from the sea fat and tubby. What they are doing is stuffing themselves on krill and carrying it back to regurgitate and feed their young.

Then back into the zodiacs. The return is a little harder because you walk through the water on slippery rocks and then heave (maybe some people moved gracefully but Hope heaved) yourself across the boat for the trip back to the mother ship. And then you climb up a ladder and walk through some chemical to kill whatever you have stepped in. (One thing we stepped in was salp, a tiny chordate that is jellied and transparent – and looks like nothing we have ever seen before.) And then we rejoiced that we were on Silversea. The crew had prepared chairs for us; they took off our boots and gave us slippers. Then they cleaned the crannies on the boots and our butlers returned them to our suites.

Your heading here...

Posted by HopeEakins 13:31 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Where the disciples were first called Christians

sunny 40 °F


Aboard the Silver Whisper February 2, 2020 at 9:15 am

HYMN: Marching to Zion

The people say the words in bold italics.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


LORD, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go then from your Spirit?
where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there your hand will lead me
and your right hand hold me fast.

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles
[There] were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” (11:20b-26)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

The disciples had followed Jesus; they had mourned his death. After that fatal day at Calvary, they sometimes doubted that he really was the Messiah after all, but they had seen signs that he was still with them, seen resurrection in their own lives, and decided that just maybe they would follow him, live as he had taught them, come together and share bread and wine and pray as he had led them. It took a while, but pretty soon people noticed the way they were living and started to call them Christians.

Names matter. When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in this part of the world, it didn’t sell well. Maybe it had something to do with the name. In Spanish, Nova means No Go.

Names matter. Call a child Fatty or Four-eyes and you could break their heart. Call your partner Beloved and it weaves you together with bonds of trust and gladness.

Today we were supposed to be in a place where names REALLY matter, a place called the Falkland Islands or the Malvinas depending on your loyalties. Even those names came from names. The first European there called them the Falklands after the homeland of his expedition’s sponsor. And the founder of the first settlement named them after the port of Saint-Malo in Brittany, which itself was named after the city’s founder.

It seems that God takes names seriously too. The first thing God asked Adam to do was to name all the animals. Then God named Adam’s wife Eve because Eve means "mother of all living." When Jesus gave Simon a new job, he gave him a new name and called him Petrus, Rocky, and said, on you, Peter, on this rock I will build my church. And a few years later on when a man named Saul stopped persecuting Christians and became one instead, he took the name Paul.

“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians,” says the text. Most of us here would call ourselves Christians. Jesus tells us what that means. He says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Names matter. If people call you a Christian you’d better act like one. I know. As a person who sometimes wears a clerical collar when I go to the supermarket, I know better than to push my cart ahead of the elderly man blocking my way. Dressed like a professional Christian, I had better act like one, and I had better keep on acting like one even without my collar.

The church at which Bill and I serve is large and well endowed – AND – on a corner by a bus stop. Throughout the day, people in need see the cross on our tower and knock on the church office door to ask for help. Why? Not because they think we are a social service agency but because they know we are a church. The cross on the tower marks us as a place where people care and share the self-giving love of Christ, and so we hand out blessing bags with hats in the winter and fresh vegetables from our garden in the summer, and we say a prayer with those who want one.

Imagine what the world would be like if one way or another every Christian lived as though they were marked with a cross. And indeed we are. We wear the cross that was traced on our foreheads when we were baptized and marked as Christ’s own forever.

So if we are marked as Christians, how can we cast a vote to enrich ourselves on the backs of the poor, if indeed, “they will know we are Christians by our love?” How can we lie to our boss, our spouse, or even to the Internal Revenue Service if we are told by God to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around our waist? (Ephesians 6:14) How can we pollute the earth and fill the sea with plastic when earth and sea are not our possessions but only gifts given us to use and pass on to our children?

So what do you think prompted the people of Antioch to look around and call some folks Christian? The Christians didn’t look different; they didn’t have a different accent. It must be that they acted different and the people of Antioch recognized their love for one another and for the world. Oh, if we could live the same way today, live so that even if the whole Gospel story were lost, it could be reconstructed by looking at us, the ones they call Christians.

The Prayers
Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have wasted the earth’s resources and polluted our children’s inheritance.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
We have hungered for riches and power and taken what is not ours as our own.
We have offended against your holy laws,
We have ignored the hungry and homeless, the unemployed and destitute, orphans, widows, and those who are lonely.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
We have nursed our anger and refused to be reconciled with those who have hurt us; we have been intolerant of those who differ from us.
We have done those things which we ought not to have done.
We ask for grace to see ourselves as you see us and to amend our lives according to your Law.
Have mercy upon us.
We pray for our world’s leaders and for all who have authority over others
Give them wisdom and understanding.
We pray for those who travel, for the crew of the Silver Whisper, for our expedition team
Keep them safe.
We pray for all who bow before you, that the gifts of faith and hope and love you bestow upon us will deepen our understanding and respect for one another.
Open our minds and hearts to see you in unexpected places.
O God our heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the birth of Bob and Twyla Elliott’s grandson, Sebastian Sage, and for your abiding presence, mercy, and love. We commend into your keeping Lillian Lazaris Giachino, mother of Nick, who dies this morning, and we give you thanks for her life and all that she means to her family and friends. Bless us on our life’s journey and give us grace to follow where you lead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all
evermore. Amen.

HYMN: Onward, Christian Soldiers, verses 1, 4-5

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins

Pianist: Lech Wos

Reader: Martin Chow

Altar Guild: Jane Kline

Usher: Douglas Kline

Expected time of the next service: February 9 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 06:28 Archived in Antarctica Comments (1)


Antarctica ho!


Breaking news: We are not going to the Falkland Islands aka The Malvinas. The ship’s Captain and the Captain of the Expedition Team called a meeting and showed us the Ocean Weather Service map. The seas will likely be too rough to get to the Falklands, they said, and certainly too rough to anchor there. Furthermore, even if we could anchor, the wind is too strong for us to get to port by tender. So we are going straight to the Antarctic Peninsula while the going is good, The Drake Passage will not be Drake’s Lake, but it will be manageable, and this will give us another day to explore the ice. The forecast for returning to Ushuaia (at the bottom of South America on Tierra del Fuego) is still uncertain.

So we look at the mound of expedition equipment piled on our beds: parkas with parkas inside them, long underwear, gloves, hats, turtlenecks, boots, thermal socks, wet pants, neck gaiters and peppermint oil to put on our upper lips to quell the smell of penguin poop. And we speed ahead. We have passed whales and seals and petrels and the ship’s stabilizers are working well.

We have new respect for Eskimos and workers at the Polar Stations. And penguins.

Posted by HopeEakins 13:01 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

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