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This post is continued from:
- Antarctica Trip Notes Part 1: Buenos Aires+Planning And Positioning For The Adventure Of A Lifetime.
- Antarctica Trip Notes Part 2: Flying To End Of The World And Having The Southernmost Chanukah Party In Ushuaia
- Antarctica Trip Notes Part 3: Diverted To The Falkland Islands!
- Guest Post: Halachic Zmanim In Polar Regions On The Kosher Antarctica Cruise
Several readers have asked if I can share my packing list, so let’s start with that. When you’re out on an excursion, camping, or kayaking, you need to avoid cotton as it traps moisture and can become dangerous if it gets wet under layering. As my regular clothes are typically cotton, I had to buy non-cotton items for this trip.
I left home on Thursday, December 6 and didn’t return home until Friday, December 21 and here’s most of what I brought with me:
- L.L.Bean Midweight Base Layer Pants (2)
- L.L.Bean Lightweight Base Layer Pants (4)
- L.L.Bean Midweight Base Layer Crew, Long Sleeve (2)
- L.L.Bean Lightweight Crew Base Layer, Long Sleeve (4)
- North Face Denali Fleece (1)
- L.L.Bean Ultralight 850 Stretch Down Hooded Jacket (1)
- Wigwam Men’s Merino Lite Hiker Midweight Crew Socks (4)
- Heat Holders Thermal Socks (2)
- Carhartt Men’s Cold Weather Boot Sock (2)
- Seirus Innovation Polartec Ultra Clava (1)
- Seirus Innovation Men’s Hyperlite All Weather Polartec Glove (1)
- Freehands Men’s Soft Shell Ski/Snowboard Gloves (1)
- Neos STABILicers Voyager Overshoe Traction Ice Cleat for Snow and Ice (1)
- Polartec/fleece pants (2)
- Wool Scarf (1)
- Wool Hat (1)
- 180s (1)
- Bathing suit and rash guard for polar plunge
- “Regular” clothes for 2 weeks
- Shabbos clothes: Kapota, Fedora, Dress Pants, Shirts, Shoes, etc.
- Reading material: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage , which is the most epic of Antarctica adventure stories. Lethal White, the 4th installment in J.K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike mystery book series that began with The Cuckoo’s Calling.
- Seforim, Shulchan Shabbos, Chayeinu.
- Kosher Antarctica iKippahs (60)
- Kosher Antarctica Penguins with yarmulkas and tzitzes (60)
- Kosher Antarctica Siddurim (60)
- Kosher Antarctica Benchers (60)
- Scopolamine prescription anti-nausea patches (5)
On the electronic equipment side I brought:
- Sony a6500
- Sony a6000
- Peak Design Leash Camera Strap
- Sony 16-70mm Lens
- Sony 18-200mm Lens
- Sony 70-300mm Lens
- Sony a6000/a6500 Spare Battery (3)
- Sony Battery Charger
- Flash Bounce Cards
- Seagate 5TB Backup Plus Portable Hard Drive
- Watson Adapter Plug – 3-Prong USA to 2-Prong Europe
- GoPro HERO7 Black
- GoPro Spare Battery (3)
- GoPro Dual Battery Charger
- GoPro Head Strap
- GoPro Hand+Wrist Strap
- Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Lenovo X1 Yoga 2-in-1 Laptop
- DJI Mavic Pro
Hopefully that helps someone out in the future. The only item that I forgot was sunscreen, which I was able to buy thanks to our diversion to the Falkland Islands. Some kayakers that didn’t use sunscreen were burned to a crisp, so it is definitely a must pack item!
Wednesday, December 12:
The Falkland Islands made for an awesome diversion and a cool passport stamp in a place that I never thought I’d make it to.
The highlight of the Falklands was certainly the penguins in Gypsy Cove:
But our goal was Antarctica and seeing penguins on snow! We boarded the ship in Port Stanley on Wednesday around noon, ready to finally cross the Drake Passage and make it to southern continent.
Back aboard the RCGS Resolute:
Lunch on Wednesday had the daily salad bar:
Along with absolutely delicious pan-seared halibut, tomato provencal, and basmati rice:
The Drake Passage is home to the roughest waters on this planet. That’s due to the lack of land anywhere on Earth at this latitude combined with the bottleneck between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula where storms rage as they pass through:
Incredibly though, we managed to have the “Drake Lake” instead of the typical “Drake Shake” on the way down to Antarctica:
At 3pm the ship’s scientists gave a seminar on Whale research and then at 4pm I gave the first half of the DansDeals seminar:
The ship then had a happy hour and briefing, and there were learning classes for men and women. And of course there was plenty of kosher wine on hand for the Kosher Antarctica guests.
Daf Yomi shiur:
Chofetz Chaim shiur for women:
Rocking the name tags:
And as one does on a cruise, it was time for more food.
The Zucchini Soup really hit the spot:
And then we had some really good comfort food for the entree:
Topped off with some chocolatey goodness:
Former Prime Minister Harper and his wife share a 25th anniversary cake:
After dinner and mincha we enjoyed sunset on the Drake Lake:
Part of the group blessed the new moon, though I wanted to wait for the return trip when it would be more than 7 days from the molad.
After a long day, it was time to turn out the lights.
Thursday, December 13:
This would have been our first day of Antarctic excursions if not for the diversion, but man plans and G-d laughs!
With a full day at sea, we had early (7am) and late (9am) minyanim for Shacharis. With a diverse group of Jews from all backgrounds, there was some controversy over whether the times I posted were based on Yekke standard time or Chassidic standard time.
After another hearty breakfast everyone had to attend briefings about Zodiac safety. The inflatable zodiac boats would be taking us from the cruise ship onto Antarctic land, as there are no ports to dock the cruise ship.
Afterward we had a bio-security briefing, where we were instructed how to clean off after every landing, so that we wouldn’t track diseases from penguin colony to penguin colony.
At 11am the ship then offered a seminar on how they count the penguin population at each stop, while Moishie offered a fantastic seminar on shooting landscape photography:
At 12:30pm it was time for lunch:
After lunch the ship had presentations on seabirds while I gave the 2nd half of the DansDeals Seminar.
I also went around our guests’ rooms to help cover several light sensors to make sure that everything was good to go for Shabbos.
7pm was dinner time, which started off with a delicious tomato soup:
And then we feasted on mouth-watering steaks:
The earliest time to say the evening Krias Shema on Thursday was 11:56pm, but the night was just getting started.
It was Hei Teves, a day of great celebration among Lubavitcher Chasidim, and a night to farbreng and say joyous L’chaims:
It was also the night we would cross the 60th parallel south, when we would enter the Southern Ocean and Antarctica’s waters.
Friday, December 14:
Bing-Bong. The chime for the morning announcement was earlier than usual as the captain pointed out our first Tabular Iceberg welcoming us to Antarctica. It was over 5 miles across and what a beauty she was!
The latest time to say the morning Krias Shema was 7:48am. We had an early Shacharis and then breakfast at 7:30am as everyone was excited for our first land excursion in Antarctica!
I had a quick omelette for breakfast and geared up for the excursion.
The plan was to take out the zodiacs to Penguin Island, one of the smaller of the South Shetland Islands, and normally protected by King George Island to the west and north.
But the weather was just not on our side. Extremely high winds made it impossible to exit onto zodiac boats, so we had to suffice with taking pictures from the ship.
Some larger lower cost cruises to Antarctica don’t even offer the option to leave the ship. Boy I would hate to have a tease like that!
A penguin colony on Penguin Island:
One of the neatest sights in Antarctica is watching penguins porpoise, or skip through the water:
2 elephant seals fight on Penguin Island:
I was thrilled for every layer I bundled up in for the frigid cold and powerful winds:
Moishie seeking some shelter from the wind:
Moishie taking a breather from his photography:
For lunch we enjoyed delicious filet of sole with saffron rice:
On the bridge, we plotted our potential coordinates with the navigation officer. I used the range of coordinates to determine the full range of Shabbos zmanim that we would need to know for the entire Shabbos:
Raffle winner Levi Benjaminson of Los Angeles does his Friday mivtzoim rounds and puts tefilin on OneOcean CEO Andrew Prossin:
Just making sure that Stephen Harper doesn’t have a Jewish mother as well…
Former Prime Minister Harper was beyond generous with his time:
Others spent the windy day playing a friendly poker game:
While others participated in a Daf Yami shiur:
As Shabbos would start late, there was a “light” dinner at 6pm of grilled chicken breast and couscous with vegetables:
It was disappointing to have been traveling for so long without getting off the ship in Antarctica before Shabbos. However our Falklands Islands diversion certainly eased my primary halachic concern on the trip had the ship made it further south than 65°6’. As explained in-depth previously according to the Alter Rebbe (the first Lubavitcher Rebbe) in the Shulchan Aruch Harav, we would have been in a potentially complicated situation for Shabbos times. The diversion assured that we would not make it that far south on our trip, which certainly gave me more peace of mind for Shabbos.
Our Shabbos schedule was certainly unique:
The ship gave us the Bistro, which was a lovely room for our Shabbos meals:
I calculated the earliest candle lighting time by taking the most stringiest opinion of when Plag Hamincha started, at 9:20pm.
We had thought about having Shabbos meals outside of the Bistro on the heated deck, but forecasted snowy, windy, and cold conditions would not allow for that.
At 6’8″, Moishie’s shtreimel did a fine job of polishing the mirrored ceilings:
Without anything exciting going on due to the windy conditions that prevented a morning or afternoon landing, the ship’s non-Jewish photographer came to check out the scene before Mincha on Friday:
The ship has a strict no open flame policy, so they said that lighting real candles for Shabbos would be out of the question. As per Rabbi Heber of the Star-K we were instructed to find incandescent electric candles, which is no easy feat in this LED world. In the end we brought 2 of these along with batteries for each of the Kosher Antarctica passengers that wanted them.
As we prepared to bring in Shabbos, the winds died down, the seas became calm, and a peaceful silence hung all around our ship. A light snow began to fall, obscuring everything but a small circle of ocean surrounding the ship. A true peaceful bliss enveloped the ship as we took in Shabbos.
Our mashgiach, Moishe Paskesz, enjoys the snowy scene as we take in Shabbos…
…And prays for some better weather in the coming week:
Most of us always had a Scopolamine anti-nausea patch glued behind our ears:
Kabolas Shabbos dancing flowed out of the room and onto the deck outside:
After a lively Kabolas Shabbos we sat down to a wonderful Shabbos meal with all of the trimmings. Dozens of fine wines to choose from, delicious challah, dips, salads, Moroccan style salmon, gefilte fish, chicken matza ball soup, chicken, brisket, potatoes, vegetables, and desserts. I gave a d’var torah connecting the week’s parsha to the Baal Shem Tov’s explanation on Psalms 37:23, that wherever one may find himself, he is there because G-d sent him there to make that place into a G-dly place, thereby fulfilling the purpose of creation. The divrei torah, zemiros, and soulful nigunim kept us going strong until 1am, at which point the sun rose and some people davened Shacharis!
In the morning there were delicious cheese and chocolate treats from Cheskie’s Bakery in Montreal, home to the finest cheese pastries in the world, followed by another minyan for Shacharis.
Following Mussaf there was a light kiddush, a shiur on Bein Hasmashos, and then a full lunch with phenomenal cholent, kishka, kugel, and much more.
The room felt magical as our diverse bunch of religious Jews bonded over food and song and left our worries behind. I daresay none of us were even jealous as others finally exited the ship to Mikkelson Harbour and Cierva Cove as we were enjoying a truly amazing Shabbos.
The weather today was bright and sunny, and we ate our meal and sang songs while drifting calmly past massive mountains, glaciers, and icebergs. Many people had a pair of binoculars sitting on the table near them, and the seuda was frequently interrupted by a call of “whale!” and a general rush towards the windows or out to the patio to observe our latest Shabbos guest.
We davened Mincha at 5:30pm, followed by a Shalosh Seudos of shnitzel, tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad. I spoke for an hour about stories and lessons I’ve learned over the past 14 years of travelling and running DansDeals and then many people took a nap until Shabbos would end at 1:01am on Sunday morning. At that time we davened Maariv and made Havdalah without a candle or spices as it was already past sunrise on Sunday:
At 1:15am we davened Shacharis for Sunday morning, as we had to daven before we could wash for our Melava Malka!
Finally at 1:45am we sat down to pizza as well as falafel:
This was a Shabbos that none of us will ever forget. But everyone was now ready to step off the ship and onto Antarctica! The only question we all had was, would the weather cooperate for there to be Antarctic excursions on Sunday?
To be continued…