Conversation With Peter Eastway – Stranded

Peter Eastway is a great friend and extraordinary photographer from Australia. We have done numerous workshops together in a number of different and exotic locations around the world. Peter is one of the most optimistic and positive photographers I know. No matter the circumstances, he always makes the best of the situation.

Peter Eastway
Peter Eastway

His photography—as you can see below and in the video—is gorgeous. He has not only a keen and instinctive eye but he is also a master at post-processing turn off the Half an hour. His book, “The New Tradition,” is a series of his images and the stories behind them. We will have a review of this book soon. You can purchase it HERE .  

Like myself, Peter loves the polar regions. We have made a number of trips there as workshop instructors. We especially like Antarctica. Peter works with Aurora Expeditions on their Antarctica trips as a photo guide. This year, Peter was doing two back-to-back trips on the Greg Mortimer to Antarctica. While the first trip went flawlessly, the second trip was another story.

The second trip was due to sail at the beginning of the pandemic. Little was still known about the implications of where the coronavirus was headed. A few passengers were given the option to leave, which they did. The others, Peter included, set out for Antarctica. They never got there.

The flight back to Australia
The flight back to Australia

Passengers came down with COVID-19, the illness associated with the coronavirus. It was thought that these passengers most likely picked up the virus during their journey to Ushuaia, Argentina. Things on the ship changed rapidly as the doctor and crew tried to isolate passengers and control the spread of the infection. On a small ship that is not easy. Peter’s story about what happens next will amaze you. Imagine 30 days stranded off the coast of South America with 60% of the ship infected with COVID-19.

The ship turned around, but because there were infections on board, it was not permitted to dock at the original port. This is where the adventure begins. I’ll let Peter tell the story in the video. After being stranded on the ship, with the infection spreading, they were granted safe passage to a chartered flight and returned to Australia. Once there, they were placed into a guarded, 14-day quarantine.

These are a few of the news stories about the trip and what was happening:

The Guardian, “‘We are very afraid:’ Stranded Cruise Ship’s Crew in Limbo Amid Pandemic”

BBC, “Coronavirus: Crew on Virus-hit Cruise Ship Allowed to Disembark in Uruguay”

Miami Herald, “Greg Mortimer Cruise Doctor Pressured to Edit Coronavirus Health Form, Safety Officer Fired”

CNN, “Passengers to be Evacuated from Antarctic Cruise Ship After Almost 60% Test Positive for Coronavirus”

I would like to make a note that this whole situation was quite unusual.  Aurora Expeditions has a fine reputation and as with all Antarctica, cruise companies they put safety first.  At the time of the voyage, not a lot was known about how contagious this virus was and just how dangerous. I am sure that based on what we know now this cruise would never have left the dock. Based on what Peter has told me Aurora did the best they could under the situation and worked tirelessly to get their passengers home safely.

I hope you enjoy the video and Peter’s images accompanying this article. Peter and I will be doing more workshops together in the near future. We look forward to getting back to Antarctica and the northern polar regions, although it seems unlikely that there will be an Antarctica trip this year. Numerous companies already have canceled cruises.

Here at photoPXL and Rockhopper Workshops, we will be hedging our bets to start up the workshop season again in April 2021. On the tentative itinerary: Faroe Islands, Palouse, Svalbard, Greenland—and a 20-day trip in November to South Georgia and Antarctica. We also plan to hold fine-art printing workshops at the gallery in Indianapolis. Look for more information soon. We will offer a full refund of deposits if the trips need to be canceled due to the pandemic.

The Video (51:00)

01:15 Trip starts with photos
02:45 Discussion about climate change and the effects seen on this trip
04:15 Peter’s book project from this trip
10:30 More on the climate change effects this year
26:30 COVID-19 hits the ship
28:31 Fevers are detected 60% of the ship, is infected
31:00 The ship needs a port that will allow them to go home
33:00 The long wait and how they got home

More of Peter Eastway’s Images

Click on an image to see full size.

Kevin Raber
June 2020
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: Columns, Videos, MISC

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