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Antarctic Mainland

Exploring

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mainland glaciers.

Today was a very special day as we landed on the Antarctic continent for the first time. We landed at Neko Harbor and what a magnificent place it is. At the base of the harbor are several gigantic glaciers. You can see how the snow mass form the Antarctic continent relives the enormous pressures from the weight of ice and snow on it.

We caught site of another cruise ship this morning just before we made our landing.

We did not see any icebergs break off the glaciers while we were there but we heard huge thunderous cracking sounds coming from the ice. I could not image what would have happened to us if a berg had broken off in front of us.

It is reassuring to know we are not completely alone out here in the Antarctic wilderness.

Brown Station in Paradise Bay.

Our next stop was Brown Station in Paradise Bay which is the Argentine Antarctic research station. No one was there when we landed and the tour guide explained the base was only manned from December. Lawrence and I both agreed that this station had not been used in a very long time.

Very, very cold pack ice.

Behind Brown was an 83 meter or 166 foot hill which we had to climb. Going uphill in knee deep snow wearing wellington boots is hard work so when we came down we decided to follow the penguin's lead and slide down on our backs; great fun! After touring Brown Station we were loaded into the zodiacs and given a boat tour of the Paradise Bay glacier.

There was much pack ice in the bay and also several seals. So far on the trip I have not really been cold; my gear seemed well up to the task. However, as we toured the glacier the weather changed and suddenly the wind came up and it got very cold; I mean really cold. I cannot remember the last time I was so cold.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The very spooky Whalers Bay.

I woke up feeling rather seedy this morning as last night I drank a bit too much; drinking alcohol while taking motion sickness medication is not a wise thing to do so I have found out.

They gave us our 6:30 am wakeup call over the ship's intercom system and also announced we were about to enter the Neptune Bellows of Deception Island. Deception Island is in effect a partly submerged volcano. The island forms a large ring so once you pass through the Neptune Bellows (the only way in) you find yourself in a highly protected bay. Volcanic processes at Whalers Bay in Deception Island heat up the water on some beaches and so it is possible to swim there. We landed at Whalers Bay first and were stunted by its solitude. It is now a deserted whaling station and really gives you the feeling of a ghost town; except covered with snow.

Lawrence could not resist and had to go for a swim in the Antarctic waters. I think the expression on his face sums up the experience. Several others also took a dip and each one of them had a similar experience. If you ask Lawrence he has a new theory why Whale's genitals are the way they are.

Next we landed at Half Moon Island were another Argentine station is located. The name is very appropriate as it does have a perfect half moon shaped bay. I was able to hike a good 2 miles on this landing and was very happy to get the exercise before we start our two day return crossing to Ushuaia via the dreaded Drake Passage. They are predicting less winds than when we first crossed but the Southern Ocean always takes its payment when you sail it.

Now to get home safely.

Neko Harbor Video 01
Neko Harbor Video 02
Whalers Bay Video 01
Whalers Bay Video 02
Half Moon Island Video

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