A Travellerspoint blog

Deteriorating Weather

Friday, 29 December 2017

View 2017 Antarctica on greynomadm's travel map.

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

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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)

Crossing The Antarctic Circle

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

View 2017 Antarctica on greynomadm's travel map.

We sailed Southward all through the 'night' past distant icebergs and an increasing amount of of scattered ice floes. At about 08:30 we crossed the Antarctic Circle and claimed the first in the fleet to sail this far South for the current season.

Almost the entire surface of the sea was covered by ice. Our destination was still some distance away and the density of the ice continued to increase. Finally when it was judged to be 10/10 it was decided that the ship should seek clearer waters.

It was decided that while we were still inside the circle and the ice was down to about 5/10 there would be the Antarctic Plunge Challenge. The ship stopped, two zodiacs were launched and a number of hardy men and women brave the sub-zero temperatures and dive into the water. With the ship rocking in the swell and the need for safety rigging it took some time to process all those brave volunteers.

After lunch we were underway again and it was announced that all the zodiacs would be launched and there would be ice exploring. With nine or ten plus driver the zodiacs set out for over an hour of darting in and out of the ice-floes. We'd decided that sitting in one spot and holding onto a safety rope while being splashed by icy water was not an ideal way to spend the afternoon. For the younger thrill seekers it was no doubt considered to be a fun outing. Most of them certainly looked well pleased when they returned.

Just before diner the engine came to life again and we continued in a generally Northerly direction.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:13 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Another Landing

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

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There is no obvious indication that the day has started. We can only determine time according to the ship's clock as we are almost in the 24 hour daylight zone. By the time I woke the light was bright, the water totally calm and there was ice all around.

The people who spent the night on the ice were brought back and the ship set sail through the fantastic passage - can't recall name - where the mountains soared high on either side. The bright sun and glittering ice floes made for impressive photo opportunities. We were encouraged to take advantage of this unusual combination of weather conditions. It was difficult to find a suitable vantage point as all aboard lined the rails. The frequent sound of steel hull impacting with large ice chunks added to the atmosphere.

About lunch time we reached our landing site for today. Conditions were declared to be perfect and I decided to have another attempt at landing on the shore. The ride out on the zodiac was much calmer and I felt confident that I would manage this. Total embarrassment. Even with the assistance of two strong people I could not find my footing and crawled up the landing on my belly. With the aid of a snow-shovel I managed to stand up. Every step I took on that snow I felt I was going to topple over. Being extremely conscious of the people behind me I stood to one side and tried again. Even taking tiny steps I was unable to make much progress. Fully aware that if I fell I'd be unable to get up I sought refuge on a large rock. I sat there for almost an hour and watched the local wildlife and the more capable humans trek up the hill.

The penguins were so very cute and some walked up to me with a questioning look, stare a while, shake their heads and wander on. To add to my discomfort Jenny fussed over me and the staff were exceedingly tolerant and helped me back onto the zodiac, instead of a stumbling series of steps I slid down on my backside. The driver returned to the ship following a circuitous route taking us close to the numerous icebergs allowing us to see the various sculptures created as they slowly melted.

Before diner the regular debrief informed us that this was the first landing on that spot for the season. We were also told that our Quest for the Antarctic Circle has a good chance of being achieved. The ice conditions and the weather are both unknown elements but the crew is determined to venture into the unknown. That element of discovery was enthusiastically applauded.

During diner there was further excitement as a number of hump-back whales were sighted close to the ship. The skipper slowed the ship and allowed it to drift as we passed by them. Lovely diner and Jenny and I returned to the cabin as the ship gently rocked on her way South.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:15 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

Christmas Day

Monday, 25 December 2017

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We've arrived at our second anchorage and were treated to a brief snow flurry. We are surrounded by high rocky crags and massive steep glaciers. The water is sprinkled with small icebergs and many large chunks of ice. Although overcast sky the whole scene is presented in a high contrast of black rock faces and stark white ice and snow.

We've decided to stay aboard although the conditions for landing are better than yesterday. The landing is reported to be icy and slippery and the prospect of climbing up the steep paths on ice and snow does not appeal.

We spent a lazy day aboard and did little more than capture some of the fantastic scenery a the ship moved from the first to the second anchorage. Once again the bulk of the passengers went ashore. On their return aboard it was announced that the overnight camping would proceed. Yes a large number of the youngsters will be spending the night out on the ice.

To round off Christmas Day the cooks set up a BBQ on the back deck. The wind was calm and the temperature just above freezing surrounded by ice covered mountains. Certainly a unique setting. Despite an almost total lack of activity we were both ready for bed. Being this close to the Antarctic Circle we are subjected to almost 24 hour sun-light. It just doesn't get dark.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 20:57 Archived in Antarctica Comments (0)

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