A nice day for swimming… in Antarctic waters
by Guest Blogger
December 21, 2005
There we were Mathijs and I in a small Nouvarina inflatable pursuing the Nisshin Maru closely up ahead, with the Esperanza nearby on our right side. The chop and swell coming from the other boats in the water and the Nisshin Maru changing course at speed was causing quite a choppy stir in the water.
Suddenly a whaling hunter vessel with its whale catch attached to its port (left) side was moving in to position to transfer its catch to the Nisshin Maru and moving fast towards us on our little Nouvarinas port side. So we quickly put on the throttle and aimed to cross her bow before she moved into position for a whale transfer process. This was so that we would not catch the swell coming off her fast, hard turns in the water and to get ahead of her so that we would be amongst the transfer process rather than be left behind in the choppy wake.
With the fire hoses spraying us, whale blood spray coming out of the outlet holes on the Nisshin Marus hull and little iceberg bits in our path, the situation was a bit hairy. Next thing I know I feel our inflatable rolling over on to its right side steeply like it was floating in midair (which I think we may have been) and I knew the boat had crossed its point of no return and was going to flip. So instinctively I dived out of the boat to clear its hull as it was flipping over.
It happened so quickly that I did not even have a chance to look around to Mathijs who was driving, to say something along the lines of "Mama Mia". My last memory before over-turning was a hunter vessel heading towards us and so I thought to myself ‘surface, see where it is and doggie paddle outta here!’ As soon as I hit the water I covered my head and realised my survival suit hood was not on and letting icy water in. As I surfaced I was looking for Mathijs and trying to grab a line from the upturned inflatable in the water.