Monday, 6 February 2012

Smooth Sailing

Feeding Humpback Whale in Nelson Strait
Photo copyright Lisa Andersen
SMOOTH SAILING; was the phrase that characterized the southern half of transit across the Drake Passage and our approach to our Half-Moon Island. Offshore the FRAM was accompanied by squadrons of Cape Petrels and those of us on deck sighted our first Antarctic iceberg at 1000 and only a few minutes later the iceberg was framed by a rainbow.

Camara Base, Half moon Island
Photo copyright Lisa Andersen
In preparation for our landings in Antarctica we all attended the IAATO briefings. These briefings are formatted by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators and attendance is required for all of us who intend to go ashore. We learned the reasons that our backpacks are vacuumed before out first landing and why we need to step in the disinfectant when we return to the ship.

Camara Base personnel
Photo copyright Lisa Andersen
The lectures also covered the procedure for checking out and boarding the Polarcirkle Boats. Importantly we also learned to respect the penguin’s privacy. On land we need to stay at least 5 meters or 15 feet away from the penguins. As we left the IAATO lecture the news came over the speaker system that whales had been sighted ahead. For over half an hour we were entertained by three humpbacks feasting on a large swarm of krill.

Left to right:  Our Hotel Manager KjelL Karlsen, our
Chief Purser Line Overgaard & Captain Rune Andreassen
Photo copyright Lisa Andersen
Our landing a Half-Moon Island was a bit challenging as the surf rolled back and forth in the swash zone. But once ashore we headed off in several directions, some of us went “over the hill” to see the Macaroni penguin that appears to happily live among 100’s or 1000’s of Chinstrap penguins. Others of us visited the Argentine Camara Station where the personnel welcomed us with open arms. From Camara Station some of us hiked across the beach ridge to climb the large hill that provided a wonderful overview of the Station, Half-Moon Island, Livingston Island and the FRAM at anchor in the bay below. After this our first days outing in Antarctica we returned to the ship where we all enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner.