Antarctica Trip Notes Part 4: Packing List, The Journey Down South, And The Southernmost Shabbos

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Welcoming in the Sabbath on the snowy deck of the RCGS Resolute. Photo: Jason Ransom
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This post is continued from:

 

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:

On the electronic equipment side I brought:

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:

Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi

 

 

 

 

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:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Twin cabin:

Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi

 

Lunch on Wednesday had the daily salad bar:

 

Along with absolutely delicious pan-seared halibut, tomato provencal, and basmati rice:

 

Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi

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:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

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:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

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:

Photo: Moishe Paskesz

 

Chofetz Chaim shiur for women:

 

Rocking the name tags:

Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi
Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi
Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Photo: Gella Steif/Rachel Bondi

 

Photo: Moishie Hersko

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:

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

After dinner and mincha we enjoyed sunset on the Drake Lake:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

 

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.

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

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:

 

We feasted on 2 kinds of delicious shnitzel and potato pastel:

 

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:

 

And more yummy desserts:

 

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.

Photo: CHFF

 

 

 

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!

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Photo: Bing-Bong Boomie Chopp

 

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!

 

Penguin Island:

 

A penguin colony on Penguin Island:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

One of the neatest sights in Antarctica is watching penguins porpoise, or skip through the water:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

2 elephant seals fight on Penguin Island:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

I was thrilled for every layer I bundled up in for the frigid cold and powerful winds:

 

Moishie seeking some shelter from the wind:

Photo: CHFF

 

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:

Photo: CHFF

 

Raffle winner Levi Benjaminson of Los Angeles does his Friday mivtzoim rounds and puts tefilin on OneOcean CEO Andrew Prossin:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Just making sure that Stephen Harper doesn’t have a Jewish mother as well…

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Former Prime Minister Harper was beyond generous with his time:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

Others spent the windy day playing a friendly poker game:

 

While others participated in a Daf Yami shiur:

Photo: Moishe Paskesz

 

 

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:

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

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.

Photo: Moishie Hersko

 

At 6’8″, Moishie’s shtreimel did a fine job of polishing the mirrored ceilings:

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

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:

Photo: Jason Ransom
Photo: Jason Ransom
Photo: Jason Ransom

 

Photo: Jason Ransom
Photo: Jason Ransom

 

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.

 

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

 

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

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…

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

…And prays for some better weather in the coming week:

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

 

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

Most of us always had a Scopolamine anti-nausea patch glued behind our ears:

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

Kabolas Shabbos dancing flowed out of the room and onto the deck outside:

Photo: Jason Ransom

 

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:

Photo: CHFF

 

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…

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47 Comments On "Antarctica Trip Notes Part 4: Packing List, The Journey Down South, And The Southernmost Shabbos"

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yachakor zos

Is it mutar to eat a fleishik meal on erev shabbos?

4yourinfo

Is that your takeaway! They didn’t wash it’s a snack which is no problem if they will have an appetite later and even washing may not be a problem…

TGIShabbos

I do often. What’s the problem? From my understanding many fleishig restaurants with reuputable hashgachas are open Fridays for lunch. I recommend you speak to the various Vaads first.

Fresser

I think Toameihu is supposed to be flaishigs!

mivakesh shalom

I guess for shaas hadichak wince shabbos wasn’t starting until very late

Mekoros

The Meiri in Baitza brings that as a minhag, and those who have the minhag have the minhag. certainly no issur.

Mendy

I missed this once in a lifetime opportunity, what’s the next one?
Don’t want to miss it!

Mark

Did pm Harper attend a seminar?
Did you ask him which cc’s he uses?

4yourinfo

Canadians CC are nothing like American ones…

Traveler 718

PM Harper did not attend any of our seminars. According to Ami, he wouldn’t have been able to, since our groups were completely separated from one another. 😉 – A cruise participant

Eli

At least the Prime minister in Canada should tuck his shirt in his pants…
Amazing post! Thanks!!

Mendel

You don’t “bless the new moon”. You bless G-d for the new moon.

sarah

please post the next part quick
you’ve been leaving us in suspense for too long!!

Bl

@ Dan
Can you pleas elaborate on/enlighten the masses, how do you travel with your hat?
Is there a Dan approved method? Thanks

noah32

These are quickly (and strangely) becoming my favorite part of this website. I love reading every aspect of your trip. Can’t wait for the next part!

Ari

I agree

jew

Amazing post and amazing research necessary for it all….
One small correction Alter rebbe was first chabad Rebbe not lubavitcher Rebbe….

Rena

Really enjoy reading your account of this amazing trip! Thanks so much for sharing!

Canadian

Wow, WOW!!!!! anything more affordable coming up???

Work-for-ur-muny

Wow! Just wow!
A few loves here:
1. Love how you even had (yarmulka-shaped) napkins with your logo at the table!
2. Love the name tags.
3. Love the minyan shachris at ~1:00 am. I should’ve came just for that!
4. Love the clean ceiling mirrors.
Thanks Dan!

aaron

Just curious, other than booking however number of people you guaranteed the boat operator, was there any reason they agreed to do this for the group? I imagine having a frum group on board with it’s different needs is somewhat of a headache for the cruise operators. Maybe it’s as simple as filling up the boat but just wondering if there might be any ancillary reasons for them to do it.

Chesky

The navigation guy looks like he’s 16

Avi

You even had Motzei Shabbos pizza!!!
Amazing!!!

Murphy’s Law

You seemed to be in the Falklands longer than the Argentinians

Dreaming

@Dan we are Waiting on part 5

Jimbo

@Dan
Can we have Part 5 to help us get through the fast day…

Jessica

Compelling and incredible journey that is only enhanced by the efforts to make it kosher.

John

Wow very lucky! Looks like an amazing trip!

Ed

Part 5?
Readers waiting….

esther

Are you still posting details of the trip?

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