Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two Day Crossing the Drake

March 13, 2008

Greetings from Professor Molchanov in the Weddell Sea, en route to the South Orkney Islands!

By all standards of measure, we had a very easy two day crossing of the Drake Passage! One great adventure on our nearly 3,500 mile voyage. Our first landing was at Brown Bluff, a continental landing for those wanting to “tick” their 7th, and whitest continent in the world. Departing Zodiacs soon encountered a severe turn in the weather, with strong westerly winds forcing us to abort this landing. Some lucky folks did get their feet on the continent, though. Icebergs and bergy bits were drifting all around, but everyone returned very safely to the ship, in the hands of our very capable Expedition Staff and Russian crew. The morning and the evening ended with the most lovely of albatrosses, the dreamy Light-mantled Sooty.

Next we pushed into the Weddell Sea in search of Emperor Penguins without luck. Several delicate Snow Petrels drifted along spectacular tabular ice. Some Chinstrap Penguins were on ice floes. Due to the strong winds, the ice blocked our landing on Snow Hill Island. Nevertheless, all of the passengers gathered on the bridge with our Russian sailors to enjoy the ice, before we turned around.

This morning, we made a fantastic landing on Paulet Island, surely one of the favorites of Antarcitca. The beach was covered in Antarctic Fur Seals, two Chinstrap Penguins, and small parties of Adelie Penguins, with Brown Skuas patroling overhead, and occassional Southern Giant Petrels. It was a lovely morning, even though it was -5C we all stayed for the entire three hours. Reluctantly, we returned to our ship — surounded now by icebergs of all sizes and shape, penguins and fur seals on the beach, and the snow dusted scree slopes of Paulet — we embraced the full Antarctic scene in all its glory!

Hope all is well. We check in again in a few days.

All the best,