Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

On Location: Captain's Farwell Speech from Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands

Zegrahm Contributor|February 2, 2010|Blog Post

Zegrahm travelers recently had the privilege of traveling with French Captain Étienne Garcia aboard Le Diamant on our Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands itinerary. Below is an excerpt from his farewell speech that was so well received by passengers, staff, and crew that they hoped we would publish it for all to read:

Good evening dear passengers, this is your Captain speaking from the . . . the stage. I don’t have the eloquence of Peter [Harrison] but I will do my best! Tonight I wanted to come personally to give you a few words of farewell. These 20 days have linked us with memorable and warm souvenirs.

We won’t forget the day when Le Diamant was at anchorage in the tiny bay of Grytviken in the wake of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the boss. We were breathing the same air, standing side-by-side with him and as, Hussey, one of his teammates once said: “We would have gone anywhere without question just on his order. Now that he has gone there is a gap in our lives that can never be filled.”

We won’t forget all our landings in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and I will remember precisely every single call but especially Gold Harbour by the shiny morning where we had the unique opportunity to blend into the wilderness, surrounded by placid sea lions, cheeky juvenile fur seals, colorful king penguins, and above all the gracious light sooty mantled albatross. We felt overwhelmed by emotion and in osmosis with the surreal atmosphere of this land full of mysteries.

We won’t forget our bumpy and foggy passage between South Orkney and the Antarctic Peninsula trying to get away from a low pressure reminding us to head south for better sea conditions. Now you deserve your paradise and access to the Antarctic gates.

We won’t forget the approach of Elephant Island where we saw the spectacular mountainous landscape wrapped by a scarf of clouds as to keep the island warm. Le Diamant dropped her anchor in Point Wild as close as possible to this inaccessible beach, churned by waves, where part of history was carved in every single rock. It will certainly leave us with an unforgettable memory.

We won’t forget the spontaneous and adventurous navigation heading into Weddell Sea when Le Diamant was blending discretely with large tabular icebergs sculpted and shaped by wind, always closer and closer, in order for you to smell for a while the scents of Antarctica. We felt moved by this impromptus gift of Mother Nature and finally be rewarded by the most majestic penguin: the Emperor.

We won’t forget this last spectacular landing on Baily Head where I was impressed by your courage and determination to set foot on the island even though the conditions were rough. But your effort was rewarded by such a beautiful and unique show of 130,000 pairs of penguins waddling along the impressive amphitheater.

We won’t forget our encounters with numbers of majestic and inquisitive humpback whales but also fine & killer whales side-by-side Le Diamant en route along the amazing Gerlache Strait where those divine creatures seem to show us the route allowing us to enter the territory of their ancestors.

We won’t forget Neko Harbour, Paradise Bay, and the narrow Lemaire Channel when Le Diamant was sailing smoothly on a very precise course surrounded by spectacular high mountains, colorful landscapes, and impressive glaciers. If Heaven does exist, it will certainly look like this!

We are now at the end of our voyage and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this expedition cruise with us. If we have succeeded even for a moment to share our passion with you then your happiness will be ours.

Let me read a sentence from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by well-known French writer, Jules Verne: “The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.

Now from French explorer, J.B. Charcot, who spent two winters down in Antarctica at the beginning of the 20th century, close to Pleneau and Peterman Islands: “Where does this strange attraction to Antarctica come from, so powerful, so overwhelming, once back we forget the moral and the physical fatigues, tiredness. Only one comes to your mind to go back again.”

For me this not a farewell, but just a goodbye, dear passengers, hoping to see you again soon . . .

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