December 12, 2012 – Antarctic Sound/Brown Bluff
Posted on December 13th, 2012
Temperature: 32˚F (0˚)
Wind speed: 2 knots
Cloud cover: 50%
Those of us awake early this morning were not sure what kind of day was in store. Winds were reaching 20 knots and the sleet was coming down. But then, like a switch at 0600, the sleet stopped and the winds died. The sun began to peek through the clouds to the Southeast and things were looking up.
Just after 0830, we could see the fleet of Zodiacs being lowered from the top deck of ‘Le Boreal.’ Everything we had been waiting for was now right in front of us. Over the next hour, we would experience our first moments with the Antarctic Continent.
Cruising through Fridtjof Sound, we dodged sea ice and bergy bits, navigated around icebergs that seemed the size of city blocks and watched as crabeater seals and Adélie penguins rested on the pack ice around us. It was amazing to watch the currents rip around these large icebergs grounded within the Sound. Although the temperature was right on the freezing mark, the lack of wind made our time in the boat feel as though we were in a much warmer part of the world. We didn’t want to return to ‘Le Boreal’ and jokingly threatening our drivers with mutiny.
Back on ‘Le Boreal,’ we dropped anchor once again just after 1330. Our Zodiacs also began to drop from the upper decks as the expedition team made their way towards shore to prepare for our arrival. When we arrived on shore, we were greeted by the smells and sounds of thousands of Adélie Penguins, even fortunate enough to sight several nests with young chicks only a few days old. With the temperature rising through the afternoon, it was difficult to tear ourselves away from the wonders around us.
After dinner, we lounged on deck to take in the sunset and the astonishing pastel-colored sky that followed. With the days so long and darkness so brief, if at all, it was difficult to convince ourselves to retire. Eventually we would, succumbing to our body’s desire for sleep and our hopes for another day as exciting as the last.
– Chris Srigley, Naturalist