Our Antarctic Adventure Part XIII Palmer

Fri, Feb 13th – Anvers Island – Palmer

Palmer-StationBarbara-and-j This day dawned for me as I opened my eyes from my bed and saw the lightening of the sky from our stateroom window. Surely it must be five or six o’clock I thought, but still I lay there just savoring the moment because this is the day – the day I return to Anvers Island with Barbara! I still could not get back to sleep, even though the clock read 3:30 AM. I decided I was not going to miss a minute of this day.

After quietly getting dressed, I made my way to the ever ready coffee machine in the Lido and then upay to the Crow’s Nest to await the sunrise. As the skies lightened more, I realized that this was going to be one of our best weather days. As I write this at 9:30 in the evening, and it is hard to keep my gaze from the window, and those clear, end-of-the-day skies, with the setting sun silhouetting the north end of Anvers Island. As we move through the waters of Dallmann Bay, the magnificent icebergs that have been with us for the past six hours are fewer and smaller. Soon we will enter Drake Passage and begin our race for the sheltered waters of Beagle Channel of Terra del Fuego.

Palmer-Station-boarding-par It is hard to get back to the events of the day, but I will try. Gradually I could make out some of the scattered islands around Palmer Station and then I realized that what I thought was a fog bank covering the station was in reality the huge glacier behind the station that covered most of Anvers Island. Then the report came from the bridge “Two zodiacs have been spotted leaving Palmer station off our starboard bow”. Soon the Palmer folks were alongside and getting ready to board. Barbara and I had been asked to meet this boarding party outside the Queens lounge by our Cruise Director; Thom Faulkner. When they arrived it was like a family reunion with some of the crew we had been corresponding with via email for the past few weeks. As they went about removing their mandatory boating safety clothing the round of introductions and conversation began. There were about fifteen in the visiting party. We were warmly greeted by our new friends, Eric, Zee Evans, Raydene, Pat, and Amber.

Palmer-Station-Leopard-Seal At 8:30 AM Eric, the station manager, gave a presentation about the overall mission of the station and Pat followed it up and excellent PowerPoint on the scientific studies being carried out on station and in the surrounding waters. As all this was going on our good Captain and his able bridge crew set a course for the Lemaire Channel, some twenty miles south, and our southernmost point on our voyage. In this narrow channel we were treated to numerous seal sightings, and “flocks” of “brushtail” penguins; the Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo. This is also where we observed the infamous “Una Peaks”. We were amazed that our captain could so masterfully maneuver his ship 180 degrees to exit the channel. As we headed back to Palmer waters, the crew gave another presentation to the passengers who were not scheduled for the first one. Too soon it was time to bid our OAE family farewell. What a neat group of young people, we are so proud of them.

Palmer-Station-iceberg Around mid-afternoon we set a southeasterly course for the Neumeyer Channel, and another round of wildlife, iceberg and glacier observations. Wow does not do justice to what we experienced next as we cruised these waters and those of the Gerlache Strait. I will just have to let the pictures that I have included be the words for me. Just when we thought this perfect day was over, the report came from the bridge; “A pod of feeding Killer Whales has been spotted dead ahead”!!! As they passed beneath the ship, our good captain started reversing his course. No sooner were we headed back toward the Pod, than THEY reversed their course, eventually passing from port to starboard UNDER the bow of the ship, right below where I was standing shooting video – magnificent. When I played the video for Barbara on my computer she felt certain that one of the Orcas had something in its mouth as it passed out of sight.

So there you have it, one of the most exciting days of our adventure, and one that made the cost of the trip worthwhile. Tomorrow the vaunted Drake Passage, and then it is on to Ushuaia, Argentina.

So long Antarctica and thanks for the beautiful homecoming and wonderful memories. JWC

2 thoughts on “Our Antarctic Adventure Part XIII Palmer

  1. Sounds like you did have an exciting day!
    Bob and I went to ‘In The Mood’ program last night. It was music of the ’40’s. When Bob came home with the tickets, he said, ‘Boy this bette be good, as the tickets cost $24.00 a piece.’ During intermission, he said he takes back what he said. They are very good. There were nineteen in the band and six singers and dancers. The asked the each person that was in the service to stand when they played their song. A lot of white haired people were there. We ran into Thelma & Ed Claplanahoo and had a good visit with them.
    Keep the good reports coming. Bob and I do enjoy reading them.
    Have a safe trip.

  2. This trip sounds so wonderful and I am so happy for you and Barbara. I can just tell this brings back so many memories for you and now you can share it with Barbara.

    And you, just like a little kid that couldn’t sleep because of the excitement. It brought tears to my eyes.

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