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Soliciting donations to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Ice Shelf, Bay of Whales and subantarctic islands, and write it up real good.
Soliciting donations to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Ice Shelf, Bay of Whales and subantarctic islands, and write it up real good.
940 backers pledged $37,935 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

$37,935

940

I propose to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February, 2016 and write a series of articles about the journey.  For the past 13 years, I have written a popular-ish weblog at idlewords.com, and I know some of you have read and enjoyed my posts. Don't try to deny it.

In the past I have traveled to, and written about: Yemen, Argentina, China, Poland, Iceland, Australia, Romania, Transnistria(!) and the mysterious land we know only as "Canada".  I've done so on my own dime, and writing about it has been part of the fun of traveling for me.

This trip is a little different, in that visiting Antarctica costs a small fortune.  So I am here, hat in hand, asking for help to make the journey in return for a promise to write some really interesting and engaging prose about it in return.

The trip I have in mind is a 36-day organized sea cruise on a Russian icebreaker to the Ross Ice Shelf and Bay of Whales, with stops along the way at Australian and American bases (including McMurdo sound) and numerous subantarctic islands. A detailed itinerary appears below.

Most Antarctic tourism is limited to voyages along the Antarctic Penninsula lasting just a few days.  Only about 350 tourists a year visit the Ross Sea, an area of immense historical and natural interest reachable only from New Zealand. 

I've written extensively about Antarctica before (a serious example  at http://idlewords.com/2010/03/scott_and_scurvy.htm, a funny example at http://idlewords.com/2006/03/ruling_antarctica.htm).  If those posts appeal to you, I think you'll be in for a treat if I manage to actually see the place firsthand.

In particular, I'd like to write about the Ross Ice Shelf (in connection with climate change), the curious German and Italian bases on our route, penguins and migratory birds (who doesn't love penguins?), whatever secrets I glean from the 25-member Russian crew, Polynesian history in the godforsaken cold sub-antarctic islands, the fight to eradicate rats and rabbits from these places before they can eat all the birds, and probably (if past Antarctic writing is any indicator) 49,000 words about ice.

In concrete terms, I pledge to write at least seven substantive articles, totalling at least 35,000 words, by May of 2016.  People who pony up at least $11 will get this in a nicely formatted downloadable form, along with a podcast version (mp3 files) for listening to on the go.

People who pay at least $100 will get a Burrito Tunnel poster (I'll update this text with a rough draft soon!).  If you're not familiar with the Burrito Tunnel, read all about it here:

http://idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda-weehawken_burrito_tunnel.htm

Thanks so much for your support, and for reading my site all these years!

The proposed itinerary includes the following points of interest:

  • The Snares 
  • Auckland Islands, southernmost traces of attempted Polynesian settlement. 
  • Enderby Island 
  • Macquarie Island, inclduding the Australian base in Buckles Bay  and the King Penguin rookery at Lusitania bay
  •  Bay of Whales (including Amundsen’s base, Framheim). The  southernost open ocean in the world. 
  • Cape Adare, largest Adelie penguin rookery in Antarctica. 
  • Borchgrevnik’s hut, oldest man-made structure in Antarctica (1899) 
  • The Abandoned US/NZ base at Cape Hallett 
  • Penguin rookery on Franklin Island 
  • Ross ice shelf, largest in the world. 
  • Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds, now reclaimed by penguins. 
  • Scott’s second hut at Cape Evans. 
  • McMurdo station, the main American base in Antarctica. 
  • Baia Terra Nova, a summer Italian research station. 
  • Gondwana, German base. 
  • Campbell Island, occasional whale refuge and home to abandoned NZ meteorological station. Breeding site of the Southern Royal Albatross.
And here is a handy map!

Antarctic itinerary
Antarctic itinerary

Risks and challenges

The major risk to this project is bad weather. Many of the stops along the proposed itinerary are contingent on acceptable weather conditions. It's also possible that I could get seasick and spend the entirety of the trip belowdecks. If that happens, though, I'll grit my teeth and write 35,000 words about seasickness.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $11 or more About $11

    Handsome PDF and audio download of the Antarctica posts.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    Idle Words commuter omnibus!

    Handsome PDF and audio downloads of:

    Antarctic posts
    Argentina cycle (7)
    Yemen cycle (7)
    A Rocket to Nowhere
    Confronting New Madrid
    Scott & Scurvy

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Signed Burrito Tunnel poster.

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    147 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $800 or more About $800

    A hand-painted version of the Burrito Tunnel image in oil paint on canvas, approximately 26" x 22", signed and dedicated to the sweetheart of your choice. See project updates for a draft image.

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    Limited 5 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)