The ship Usuaia on a relatively benign evening awaits the return of the last zodiac. This image was created with the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS EF USM AF Lens (hand held at 105mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only) w/FREE Bonus Item – $150.33 Value! [expires soon]! Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/100 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Lower central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
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Zodiac Misadventure Video
As I have mentioned, a cruise to the Falklands, South Georgia, and or/Antarctica can be physically demanding, grueling at times, and dangerous at other times. Marc Lombardi,a fine and creative photographer whom I met on the recent Cheesemans’expedition, sent me a great video. As I watched it the first time, my heart was stuck in my throat. Was this guy gonna make it onto the ship or not?
You’ll want to watch it twice so click here and then when you watch it a second time, check out my commentary below.
OK. Now the details. As I watched the video a second time (it is only 1 minute, 39 seconds long) I realized that I was the guy having all the problems. Yikes!
When you are getting on or off the video, the guidelines are:
1-Never do anything until the zodiac driver tells you to go.
2-If you do not feel safe when told to go, it is OK to abort.
There are small lengths of heavy duty ropes used as handholds around the gunnels of the zodiacs. As the zodiac approaches the gangway, the seaman on the bottom platform tosses a length of rope to either the zodiac driver, or, in rougher conditions, to the seaman in the front of the zodiac. He is always dressed in a survival suit… Then either the zodiac driver or the second seaman keeps tension on the rope to hold the zodiac in place. On rough days with lots of swell, the rope can be released and then re-tightened by the person holding it to keep the zodiac safely in position.
We had landed at the spectacular St. Andrews Bay early that morning and had planned on being ashore till 7pm. Though it did not seem to have gotten any windier, we were told, at about 4pm, that the swells were getting dangerously larger and that the captain had called off the landing; everyone needed to get back to the ship now.
OK, now that the scene is set, you can watch the video again by clicking here.
At about the six second mark, expedition leader Ted Cheeseman, our Zodiac driver that day, said “Go.” I felt the zodiac began to drop and not feeling safe, decided to wait for a more opportune moment. At the 7 second mark of the video you can hear a loud pop as the handhold rope broke. That was followed by Ted’s “Yooooh.” He pushed us away from the gangway, re-started the outboard, and came around for a second approach. At the 1:08 mark Ted said “Go” again but as the zodiac dropped about 5 feet at that moment I chose to stay aboard. At the 1:24 mark I mercifully made it onto the gangway followed soon thereafter by Denise Ippolito. Whew!
As I wrote in BAA Bulletin #422, “Kudos to expedition leader Ted Cheeseman for putting together the great itinerary and pulling it off. He made several major changes due to sea conditions and all were spot on. The Cheesemans’ staff’s greatest skill is in getting folks safely in and out of the zodiacs and onto shore even in condition where most other tour companies would call it a day. In addition all were knowledgeable and helpful, and trust me, at 66 I appreciated their help.”
Thanks a stack to Marc for sharing this great video. You can see some of his great photography here. Click here to see his trip gallery. Be sure to find his Silver Grebe photos! For more trip images, these created by his life partner Elise Spata, click here.
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If you missed the South Georgia/Falkland Islands Southern Oceans Trip Report, see BAA Bulletin #422.
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