Feb 6, 2013
|Monday, February 04, 2013: Antarctica
Today was spent cruising in several of the smaller bays and straits. We started about 7:00 AM with a pick-up at Palmer Station. We boarded several of the researchers who would be giving talks later in the morning.
We then cruised Paradise Bay, Lemaire Channel (until it was too iced up to proceed), and generally in the northern portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. We managed to get to about 65 degrees south latitude, or about 1400 miles north of the South Pole when we had to turn back due to too much ice.
The ice and water here are much different from Alaska. For one thing, both are cleaner. The only evidence we saw of any type of pollution here were the darker portions of the ice that the naturalists explained were evidence of penguins. The water appears much greener and since we had clouds and mist most of the day, the water was also much darker. One phenomenon that amazed me was the bright, almost iridescent blue where water pooled in the calved bergs and on the larger icebergs. Since there is essentially no pollution, the runoff is absolutely clear, hence the bright blue. I hope you can see that in some of the attached photos.
Since we were held over in Ushuaia for about 15 hours, there is some concern that our three days here in the Antarctic might have to be cut short to make up for the time. We are due in Buenos Aires at a time certain and we’ll have to see if the Captain can make up the time on the way to and from the Falkland Islands stop at Port Stanley. We really want to see as much of this fantastic place as possible, so all aboard are keeping their fingers crossed that we can stay for the entire three days.
This evening we are returning to Palmer Station to leave some of the scientists off and then we will begin our journey up the Antarctic Peninsula north coast to the Antarctic Sound.
WOW! What a place this is.
Tuesday, February 05, 2013: Antarctica
Today is our second day in Antarctica and it is so foggy and misty that you can’t see more than about 50’ from the ship. We are hoping for the fog to lift so we can work our way around the Antarctic Sound at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The fog lifted! We were able to sail into Hope Bay and view the Argentinean Station at Point Esperanza. They appeared happy to see us sail by as they were waving flags and waving at us.
During this part of the trip, we saw some of the flat-top icebergs that are characteristic of Antarctica. These are formed as pieces break off the ice shelf extending over open water. I am not a believer in either the ozone issue or the global warming issue, but as a person with a science and engineering background, it is difficult to dispute the evidence of the changes in the topography of the ice shelves or the UV readings. The most interesting tidbit I got was that while the ice shelves appear to be receding, the “hole” in the ozone appears to be closing. Bad news, good news…
After a day of sailing among the large, and larger, bergs – some of which are over a mile in one direction or the other – we turned north and are now heading for Port Stanley in the Falklands. That should prove interesting, if we can get in. Port Stanley is located on the easterly open Atlantic side of East Falkland Island and we are told that the chances of being able to anchor and tender in due to wind and wave action are about 50-50. We shall see…