After months of training and some well-deserved shore leave, I finally started my trip South at the start of December with all my summer and winter team mates. With bursting luggage we met at the airport and boarded a flight to Cape Town. Soon we stepped off the aeroplane into a pleasant almost Mediterranean climate in Cape Town. Once everyone was gathered from various flights we were chauffeured to the vessel that would bring us to the last continent I hadn’t visited yet. With drooping eyes I only remember snapshots of the city, the landscape and shanty towns as we drove to the docks. There the RRS Earnest Shackleton awaited us to cross the Southern Ocean. We installed ourselves on board and quickly found a route into town a few of us to climb the famous Table Mountain, some to explore and others to go to the beach. Cape Town seemed almost European and was nothing like I expected Africa to be like. It was a beautiful day with good visibility and the iconic lookout point didn’t disappoint. Refreshed and energised by the scenery and fresh air we made our way after sunset to the shorefront for seafood dinner. Soon the fog moved in and in good spirit we made our way back to the docks for our first night on the ship.
The next day we already had our passports stamped ready to depart, but due to a late delivery of fuel we didn’t leave until early the next morning. Again, in the most spectacular weather we left port with seals, dolphins and even a humpback whale breaching to bid us farewell on our long voyage to the frozen continent. With excitement and some trepidation I saw the port disappear out of site with the knowledge that this would be the last time I had set foot on land for the next 18 months.