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Category Archives: Port Lockroy
Today we have spent the day in the Lemaire Channel and Port Lockroy basking is sunlight and scenery bathed in one million shades of blue and white. Ice prevented us passing through the final stages of Lemaire but neither the less the sheer cliffs raising on all sides and the ice stretching out in to the horizon is a sight to instill wonder on even the most jaded of souls.
Despite the views though, the highlight of the day was actually related to the general day to day running of the operation here in Antarctica. Today I was driving the zodiac (rubber boat) back to the ship when I noticed one of the other zodiacs looked slightly odd. So … after a brief investigation and a lot of laughing I realized that the driver had managed to drive up onto a block of sea ice to the extent that they were completely high and dry with ice on all sides!
This was a zodiac carrying kayaks, and in order to prevent a long journey towing kayaks through a strong wind they had piled all the kayaks at the front of the zodiac and left the passenger at the back. The problem? You can’t see where you are going. Despite the apparent disadvantage of this mode of travel, they had successfully maneuvered through a few hundred meters of water before hitting a slab of ice at speed and coming to an abrupt and rather hilarious stop. Literally a boat out of water. Took a lot of effort to drag the zodiac, kayaks and grinning passengers off the ice but I can guarantee they all left with a story that they will be retelling for years to come! Amazing how it’s the misadventures that loom large in the memory.
Today we spent a relaxed day with a morning landing and cruise at Port Lockroy were the passengers indulged in some Antarctic shopping before cruising amidst beautiful icebergs against a backdrop of surging glaciers. The sun just peeked through the looming grey clouds to brush the mountain-tops with colour and the wind paused to catch its breath leaving the ocean like a mirror. In a way this is time to say goodbye to Antarctica as tomorrow we leave the continent and head for the South Shetland Islands just to the north of the Antarctic Peninsula. I have a feeling that the drake will not be kind to us on our last crossing but for now I feel that Antarctica has sent me a final pleasant farewell and has sent a welcome note for two in the blue. Next time I see these towering mountains it will be from the deck of Widdershins with Leonie.
Today we climbed up to a ridge overlooking the British base Port Lockroy and had a stunning view over to the mountain range named snow white and the seven dwarfs – the range has a white peak followed by seven smaller peaks all in a row. The horizon stretched forever, the sky was a deep blue and the white sparkled. But despite all the wondrous scenery, my eyes were drawn to the foreground where a small red yacht was tucked into a sheltered bay behind Port Lockroy. Two years and we’ll be here under our own sail, and despite the daunting barrier of the Drake Passage, stunning days like this make me long to be here with the freedom of the southern winds in our sails. It also makes me think … I’m pretty lucky to get down here, privileged in fact. The Antarctic holds a rare beauty that draws you in and holds you fast. We head back to Ushuaia tonight but already I’m looking forward to coming back in four days and watching the penguin colonies change with the passing season and welcome the whales back to the Southerly feeding grounds. It’s a tough job …
Last night I slept under the Antarctic midnight sunset and was lulled to sleep by the sound of Gentoo penguins trumpeting their love to potential partners. Those with the best call were busily engaged in energetic lovemaking around us while snowy sheathbills darted around the snow banks picking up unspeakable morsels left behind by the penguins. Not a great deal of sleep was had as I was in an open bivvy that seemed to be a magnet for wandering penguins that tripped over my weary bulk several times. Not too bad I guess but sleep seems to be a long lost friend right now.
The rest of he day ran like a typical day guiding and driving Zodiacs in Antarctica – Packed up the camping early to make our first landing at Port Lockroy were I ended up spending most of my time helping floundering passengers out of thigh deep snow and guiding them over slippery rocks as the tide continually retreated making boat operations difficult.
Sometime tonight we will pass over the rusting hulk of the explorer onthe sea floor where she sank 3 years ago … here’s hoping we don’t join her!