As I get ready to traverse the roaring forties, the furious fifties and then to finally seek shelter in  Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, I thought I should check the weather. I’ve just discovered that Commonwealth Bay is recorded as one of the windiest places on the planet. The katabatic winds roar down the slopes toward the bay and keep the pack ice from forming thereby making it more accessible to land your boat. I’m not entirely sure whether I’d say this was “shelter” considering it’s the windiest place on the planet, but lets run with that anyway. The periods of ‘relative’ calm mean that men such as our own Douglas Mawson could land here during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. The plan is that the cast and crew of the Aurora Australis will arrive almost exactly 100 years from the date of Mawson’s expedition, and start the centenary celebrations.

The Bureau of Meteorology kindly keeps the public up to date with the weather in the icy south and even though it is high summer it is still chilly. Dumont D’Urville, close to where we first land, hasn’t gotten much above zero which is not entirely unexpected considering it is Antarctica. Of more immediate interest is what is happening on the high seas. I do like that expression “high seas”, makes me feel like a pirate. Anyway according to the Bureau, south of our fair continent the winds are 10-15 knots with low to moderate swell. Further south still, winds increase to 20-30 knots and the swell is moderate. I like the warning they give:


Wind gusts can be 40 percent stronger than the averages given here, and maximum waves may be up to twice the height.”

So that means further south could be very windy indeed and the swell rather… rough. Excellent, I do love an angry sea, especially when on a large and stable boat. It is one of the things I have been looking forward to, seeing the Southern Ocean and all its fury. We are set to depart at 22:30 which may be a blessing, although I do like watching the coast disappear on your way out into the ocean, it will give me a chance to get my sea legs while sleeping. I’ve been very fortunate to date that I have not suffered badly from sea sickness; one should never be so foolish as to state that they never get seasick. Last time I was at sea there was a poor chap who was so sick he didn’t leave his cabin floor for 3 days. Some like to medicate, but personally sea sickness tablets makes me drowsy and a bit useless. I ate a lot of crystallized ginger last time, but apparently I am not particularly good at self dosing and I ate too much, which made me feel sick. So I may be brave and try to go it alone. How hard can it be to stare down a microscope on a very rough sea when you feel sick?