A Travellerspoint blog


The Drake Passage

Monday, 1 January 2018

View 2017 Antarctica on greynomadm's travel map.

The ship was very quiet this morning, seas calm and not many people around. No line-up for breakfast and very few in the lounge for Part 5 of the BBC Documentary. Scott's talk about the 'Race to the Pole' was better attended and those who were not there missed the most enthralling talk of the expedition. Scott contrasted the two competing parties and their approach to the venture. One party arrived first and returned intact the others all fell victim to the environment and some poor choices.

After lunch the movie was 'Happy Feet' made all the more enjoyable as we were more able to identify the characters. Perfect show for the location. To fill in the balance of the afternoon we had our knowledge of whales enhanced thanks to an excellent talk by John. He concentrated on the two species we'd encountered being the Humpback and the Orcas

The debrief time-slot provided an opportunity for Shayne to present an amazing slide-show of images contributed by the passengers. Dinner marked to end of the day for us as we sailed across the Drake Passage in weather conditions rarely experienced. It was like sailing on a vast lake.

Tomorrow is the last full day of the voyage.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:24 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Half Moon Island and Deception Island

Sunday, 31 December 2017

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This morning we arrived at Half Moon Island and we are now back in the South Shetlands. I was surprised to see a cargo vessel discharging supplies into a small scale landing craft. The Argentine Cámara Base is located on the island and was being re-opened for the summer. It is only accessible by sea and by long range helicopter; in favourable conditions, there is no airport of any kind.

Conditions were excellent for landing and the Zodiacs were quickly launched. There was an abundance of wildlife ashore comprising mainly chinstrap penguins, Antarctic terns, skuas and kelp gulls. When the explorers returned to the ship the ship set off for Deception Island.

During that short period the weather changed to low cloud, reduced visibility and snow. Our anchorage is in the flooded caldera of a ring of volcanoes. The island provided a safe refuge for sealers and whalers. Remnant equipment of that period still litters the shores. Once again the visitors were greeted by the resident Chinstrap Penguins. The weather didn't improve but the more energetic were rewarded by the discovery of some Weddell Seals and another Leopard Seal.

Back aboard we were treated to an impressive buffet dinner to mark the end of 2017. A crazy 'Black and White' costume party in the lounge was the prelude for a boisterous welcome to the New Year in the Polar Bear Bar. The festivities continued through to the early hours of 2018.

The ship continued on a Northerly course for the Drake Passage and the port of Ushuaia.

Goodbye 2017.
Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:47 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Kinnes Cove and Brown Bluff

Saturday, 30 December 2017

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From here on these blog entries are based on my memory, some photos and most importantly on the Daily Expedition Reports written by various members of the expedition team. I will use their factual information and sprinkle some of my observations with that.

In the morning we sailed through the Antarctic Sound with those spectacular tabular icebergs on both sides. The first landing was on Kinnes Island where they were met by hundreds of penguins heading down to the water or making their way up the slopes.

On return to the ship the anchor was weighed and the ship sailed to an anchorage off Brown Bluff. From there the Zodiacs and passengers faced stiff winds and bone-chilling temperatures but were rewarded by thousands of penguins and again the rarely sighted leopard seal.

After dinner joined most of the passengers to view the BBC Documentary "Frozen Planet - Part 4". It felt strange to be going to bed while it was still light. Sunset will not be until after 23:00.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:56 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Deteriorating Weather

Friday, 29 December 2017

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A day of frustrated attempts. Our approach to the island was blocked by heavy ice and waters too deep to establish a safe anchorage. Some humpback whales were spotted as the Captain sailed to another destination. Bright sunshine belied the unfavourable conditions. Ever hopeful some Zodiacs were launched but were recalled because on the swell and hint of a snow storm. Lecture in the lounge and we set sail again with the snow flurries settling on the windows.

After lunch the ship anchored in a sheltered bay and provided conditions considered to be safe for the Zodiacs to go out and explore. There were multiple sightings of whales and the elusive leopard seal. Two of the Zodiacs witness the splitting of a huge iceberg. Buffet diner tonight with a South American theme.

Good news, I was cleared by the doctor just before lunch. Good to be up and about again. My enthusiasm for writing the daily journal has diminished to the extent that from now on it will be delayed until we're home.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:19 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

A Spot Of Trouble

Thursday, 28 December 2017

View 2017 Antarctica on greynomadm's travel map.

Awoke to a dull overcast day with low temperature and strong winds. Our ship entered into the harbour of a historic British base set up during WWII to monitor ship movements in the Southern Oceans. The base was abandoned and parts have been restored by a Historic Trust featuring a museum and the world's Southernmost Post Office. It is staffed by four volunteers for four months each year to keep this part of the Antarctic History alive. One of the staff came aboard and explained the operation. She expressed her delight at being chosen to come aboard as it will provide her with an opportunity for a shower.

Just after we arrived and the zodiacs were being deployed I experienced strong stomach cramps. It would appear that I have a case of diarrhoea.
Imposed voluntary isolation and Jenny reported my situation to the purser. The doctor will drop in and determine what's to be done. Doctor is happy that my condition is Irritable Bowel Syndrome and unlikely to be infectious but would like me to stay confined for about 24 hours.
Jenny continues to look after me and has braved the cold to take some photos for me.

Port Lockroy

During World War II, the British military Operation Tabarin established the Port Lockroy Station A on tiny Goudier Island in the bay, which continued to operate as a British research station until January 16, 1962.

During 1996, the Port Lockroy base was renovated and is now a museum and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations for expedition-ship passengers in Antarctica. Proceeds from the small souvenir shop fund the maintenance of the site and other historic sites and monuments in Antarctica. The Trust collects data for the British Antarctic Survey to observe the effect of tourism on penguins. Half the island is open to tourists, while the other half is reserved for penguins. A staff of four typically process 70,000 pieces of mail sent by 18,000 visitors that arrive during the five month Antarctic cruise season. A souvenir passport stamp is also offered to visitors.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:16 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

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