Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feb/08 - South American Journey: Antarctica - Elephant Island, Gerlache & Esperanza Station

 Weather continues to be grand. Today we cruise past Elephant Is. which is part of the S. Shetland Is. and our first glimpse of the magnificent glaciers of the Antarctic Sound. A running commentary from our Captain informs us that there are 2 Brazilian research stations on this island. Also a plaque commemorating the 1916 rescue of survivors of the British ship Endurance by the Chilean navy cutter Yelcho.
Later we cruise into Hope Bay on the Trinity Peninsula and past the Argentinean Esperanza Station.

Research Station

Just saw a sailboat go by, it was so small. Takes a lot of guts to travel these waters in such a small vessel. Must have been because it was such a nice day.

We then head back out towards Admiralty Bay, where the depth changes from 3000 to 900 ft. Then on to King George Is. where we will stop at the Arctowski Polish Research station. A zodiac load of research scientists will board the ship and provide a live broadcast on the wonders of Antarctica.

Whales Ho!

Let there be whales! We have been lucky to see a Minke and a few Humpback whales, seals and penguins swimming freely beside the ship. The skies remain clear with cloud formations called whale tails. Whales are now breaching right outside our window. A mid sized Humpback did a series of breaches. Of course the ship tilts as everyone scuttles to starboard side!
We head back through the Bransfield Straits towards Deception Island. The weather is slowly changing to rain & heavy cloud cover. Several volcanic eruptions in the 20s, 30s & 60s has now made this island the largest crater island. As we sail past we spot, way off in the distance, a colony of penguins. There goes the ship tilting to starboard side again! We then head across the Drake Passage towards Cape Horn.

Deception Island

....... in the South Shetlands. Sunrise today was nothing like yesterday, which was described as magnificent, mystical, almost magical. Now heading NW to Cape Horn. There is a storm approaching and the Captain wants to get around the Cape in good time.

Weather is worsening. It snowed on deck last night, then it froze to the deck, making walking precarious.

Deception Island

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