This story is part of Only A Game‘s 2019 Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.
One of Only A Game’s most popular stories of 2019 was Jill Heinerth’s tale of cave diving inside an iceberg in Antarctica. But there was a part of that interview we left out of that original airing, and it has to do with how Heinerth and her colleagues got to Antarctica.
Jill tells that story, in her own words:
The ship’s name was the “Braveheart” — great, great little vessel. It was a former Japanese fishing and research vessel — only 118 feet long, which is pretty small, and a crew of 18 people. It wasn’t ice-strengthened, but it was a good little ship.
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To go to Antarctica from New Zealand is a 12-day sea crossing across the craziest ocean conditions. So, you’re constantly in horrendous seas up to 60 feet high. And I asked some of the other people involved. I said, “Well, you know, all the other ships I see in Antarctica — the other four in this part of the Southern Ocean — were all 300 feet, ice-strengthened hull, built in Russia. Big, strong vessels.” And I was told, “Well, at 118 feet, you have a chance to kind of bounce in between the waves as opposed to breaking in half.” So that was not a lot of comfort for that journey down.
When we loaded the boat in New Zealand, I remember I carried a bottle of beer from Canada. And it was called “La Fin Du Monde,” which means “The End of the World.”
I remember jumping from the dock on to the Braveheart. And the captain, he was [a] very sturdy looking New Zealander, with big meat hooks for hands. And he wore this pilled argyle shirt and a little vest. But he had this stern look on his face.
And when I jumped aboard, he was rather disgusted that he was going to have to travel with a woman to Antarctica. Because women were “bad luck” on boats. And sure enough, as I jumped on board from the dock to the Braveheart, I slipped and smashed my bottle of the End of the World.
So, that was my christening of the Braveheart.
Jill Heinerth and her colleagues made it to that iceberg. For what happened next, check out our original story featuring Jill Heinerth, which aired on Sept. 21, 2019.
Heinerth is a professional cave diving explorer and underwater filmmaker. She’s the author of “Into the Planet.”
This segment airs on November 30, 2019.