Port Lockroy to Lemaire

Port Lockroy to the Kodak Gap or Lemaire Channel

Well we knew the weather was not going to be terrific and we also already knew we could not transit the Straits. however we had to go and at least look. So we went South East and joined behind a Russian Ice class ship and had the Zandaam a cruise ship fall in behind us. The last 2 of us got to the entrance of the straits our Russian friend pushed on through. however what we saw in the weather breaks was magnificent.

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You are Kidding.!!

We were up early as usual and headed out through Neptunes Bellows...Great Name... and we had traffic to contend with both in and out!!. The pass is narrow maybe 100m but you can not see underwater..and add to the fact there was a large Iceberg floating around outside in the Fairway it made for an interesting departure.. However, We set off South for Trinity Island. The wind was fair so...Oh no the sails were Frozen to there stays and we could not get them to come out. That has never happened!!The snow and freezing rain had turned them in to blocks of ice..So we proceeded under faithful staysail and 1 motor. We arrived to Mickelsen Harbour and with the bridge team, Markus on the depth and Brian on the Radar we slipped in to anchor. The whole area we are in States unsurveyed..So there was a keen appreciation for paying attention..

On arrival We set off kayaking to an Island about .75nm away where there were Gentoo Penguins and Weddell seals.., A good walk around in snow shoes...Another great Day..

And at the end of the Day Who has a view out of the Bridge windows like this..

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Seconds out...for the Main round...

We picked up our new group in Frei Airport. King George Island..as usual the flight in was weather delayed. If it is not down here in Antarctica then the problem is up in Punta Arenas. But finally we were all together, and with 650kg of provisions loaded on board we were ready.. After a quick brief we moved over to Potter, Yes I know 1 more time… and got ready to head on early for Deception Island. A Bit bouncy on the way out but we soon bore away for Deception.. As our local experts tell us South and West is better for weather. We arrived around 1500 . Then Tenders away out to the Penguin Colony at Baileys Head then back to Whalers Bay for a nice walk ashore. Then, finally at the end of the day 2200 at night the sun came out!!

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Potter Again

Well the weather did indeed catch up. Right on the forecast from Commanders Weather service. Winds at 0600 went from N at 15kts to East at 25 kts with snow. It has got progressively worse over the last 24 hours while we have been here tucked up in Potter Cove off the Argentine base of Carlini. We have company also. A Chilean Navy vessel 300 meters behind and an Argentine navy Vessel 150m ahead. We took the unusual step of putting down 2 anchors last night with 140m of chain out on each anchor to slow the swing down. We had 35kts with higher gusts but we could not tell how much after a while as our wind gear 60m up the mast Froze solid… We had a lot of ice in the rigging and Hard hats needed to be worn on deck due to falling ice. Snow laid on the deck about 5mm or 1/4” Definately different for us. We did get guests ashore yesterday to visit the Carlini base where they are doing real research rather than just occupying and being a presence. and our highlight is several Humpback whales that swing by rubbing along the hull every so often. They are fantastic to watch, mind you there breath is a bit smelly!!

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Deception Island

Deception Island

We arrived early in the morning off the Needles rocks and landed our guests ashore in a huge Chin Strap Penguin colony. One of the biggest here with around 250,000!

After that quite smelly stroll we moved inside the Extinct (We hoped) Volcano Crater, although the beaches still steam and the water just under the surface of the sand is very hot.

We anchored very close off the shore. in fact the stern was about 20m off the shallows! Deception was an old Whaling station in the 19th and 20th century's and the destruction to the Southern whale population was immense but it was the factory ships in the 1930's that really killed off the populations. However this is also the place that when stranded Shackleton could not get to as it was up wind but only 130nm, and he instead did his famous trip to Elephant Island and South Georgia to the whaling stations there .Considerably further and although mostly downwind it was across the southern oceans much larger seas.

Photo by Richard Drone Smith

Photo by Richard Drone Smith

Killer Whales

Lockroy to Melchoirs and on to Deception island. We were moving on as we knew there was weather on the way and Deception island was a must see. On the way to melcoirs we had our first pod of Killer whales. The next day , early in the morning we had a couple of humpbacks swimming very fast and close to Rosehearty.

Quite unusual until we noticed a killer whale trying to force one of the smaller Humpbacks down under by covering its blow hole. I think Roshearty broke up a mugging as the Killer whale headed off, at least for a bit.

Photo by Richard Smith

Photo by Richard Smith

From Danko to Port Lockroy

From Danko island we travelled about 6 hours (to do 36 miles) through some pretty stiff ice conditions for us, probably the most we could see safely, about 4/10. However we arrived at a great anchorage and settled in for the night. in the morning all guests went ashore to visit. Port Lockroy was a British Antarctic base and the most Southerly post office in the world.Now it is staffed in the summer only and used as a post office and a gift shop!

Photo by Ethan Toal

Photo by Ethan Toal

Throwback Tuesdays

We Moved from our drifting spot early and on the way out we came across the beautiful Barque Europa.

Must have been like the old days except that she was motoring.. We attempted to go in the south Entrance of Culverville island and Danko but we could not get through the ice so we had to do a 20nm detour to come in from the north. Which thankfully was more open. Again we shut down and drifted with the Ice and the Snow.

Photo by Hugo Thomas

Photo by Hugo Thomas

Neko Drifting in to Morning

By the time all were aboard it was 2130 and time for a late Dinner on board. So We decided not to push on and just drift with the ice. We are in fuel conservation mode. There are no gas stations down here so we shut down and only started up to move out the way of the nasty bergy bits. Peacful night but We can only do this in light wind conditions as We move faster than the ice..!

Photo by Hugo Thomas

Photo by Hugo Thomas

What a Day! It was Useful..

We arrived at 1200 to Useful Island. We could not Anchor as We had some moving ice. As well as the fact the icebergs were parked over the shallow spots We hoped to Anchor in. So We drifted… The guests went ashore and Hiked up to the top of Useful island where the view was special and encompassed the whole area

Pretty decent hike up. On returning to the boat we drifted around Gerlache Channel for Lunch before heading in through the icebergs towards Neko Harbour where we visited with some more Penguins…

Photo by Hugo Thomas

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