Thu, Feb 12th – Antarctic Adventure: South Shetland Islands
King George, Greenwich, Livingston Island and Deception Bay
I love the following quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”
That quote should have been our watch words from the time we left Buenos Aires, as we have experienced the pace of Mother Nature at every turn. Yesterday after enduring half a day of scenery obscuring fog, we finally broke out of it enough to experience the parade of icebergs in “Iceberg Alley”. Just when we thought the weather was turning and we could expect a more spectacular experience as we entered The Antarctic Sound, we put away our cameras and went to dinner. Our entrance to the sound was fantastic, however half way into the sound, the captain turned the ship around and headed back into Bransfield Strait! What the…..? In no time we were clear of Iceberg Alley and headed to King George Island in the South Shetlands. Since icebergs that we had passed earlier had originated on the East side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the winds were forcing them through the sound, I think the captain and our onboard ICE Pilot felt that to proceed would not have been the best choice at that time. (See quote). Execute plan B and head for the straits and lay-to in calmer, ice-free waters for the night.
This morning when I woke, the fog was back and the ship was not moving. By 9 Am we were underweigh and sailing near King Edward Island and observing the spectacular glacier covered coastline, as a fresh snowfall swirled around our comfy craft. This time we were escorted by multiple flights of Cape (Pentado) Petrels. Some birders refer to them as “checkerboard birds” due to the black and white square markings on their wings, which span over three feet. Finishing our breakfast, Barbara and I adjourned to the Portside Crow’s Nest where we remained the rest of the day. As the day progressed the weather improved and by the time we arrived at Livingston Island our good weather had returned. (Yes, those are Penguins pictured above.)
It is amazing how fast one becomes accustomed multiple sightings of icebergs and glacier covered islands. I will not bore you with all we saw, but this post will contain two or three. As we sat and chatted with friends, we were ever watchful of the waters below for lives being played out in the sea. Barbara did manage to get a good shot of the back of a whale that was pursuing some penguins – a sight I had never witnessed before.
During our evening meal we arrived at Deception Island and the entrance to the ancient caldera and peered through the opening aptly named “Neptune’s Bellows”. It was an epiphany for me, as the last time I sailed these exact coordinates was in January 11th 1965! Our captain gave the orders for the ship to do several 360 maneuvers by Deception Island so that everyone, no matter where they were sitting could gaze on this ancient Volcanic Island and its penguin rookeries.
Above and below are examples of “Tidewater Glaciers”.
One last look and we were on a course for Anvers Island. Ss I write this, the sun is making its painfully slow descent into the southern ocean and blessing us with a spectacular sunset. This has been a jaw-dropping day. Tomorrow – Palmer Station. JWC