The branch enjoyed a very interesting presentation from Captain Bob Mathews MM who has made a semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica in a Russian ice-breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. The first landfall was the South Shetland Islands (58 degrees west) on the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. The voyage then proceeded along the coasts of the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas to the Ross Ice Shelf and McMurdo Sound, leaving Antarctica at Cape Adare (169 degrees east).
The audience was amazed by the technical specifications of the vessel, together with the facilities on board, as Bob explained how the icebreaker broke though ice. Many of the visits from the icebreaker to interesting historical sites such as the explorer's huts were done by helicopter.
Bob described the principal expeditions of the `heroic age' (1895-1917) and explained how Borchgrevin, Scott and Amundsen all tackled the venture in different ways. Amundsen's decision, for example, to use dogs instead of horses, was a key factor in his success in reaching the South Pole.
A stunning set of black and white photographs, which had been taken by Bob's wife, Judy, were displayed around the room together with the nautical charts of the area. These gave a true sense of the beauty of the area, the harshness of the environment and the amazing variety of wildlife that lives in Antarctica.
More details of the voyage together with photographs can be found on the Hong Kong branch website www.nautinsthk.com
Graham Cowling ExC, FNI
Seaways August 2005