Day 12 snapshots

Today is Wednesday February 8, 2006

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Peterman Island

Again while we have been sleeping, the captain has moved the ship again. During the early morning, we pass through the Lemaire Channel, noted for the glaciers on either side coming right down to the sea. We continue on the Petermann Island. It is difficult to capture the grandeur, color, and scope of even this small part of the Antarctic continent. I've had to content myself with small vignettes.

I say color, but there are only subtleties of a few colors. The only green we have seen comes from algae—as does the red color in the snow and ice. Well, actually the penguin guano is also pink because of the krill they eat.

Petermann Island is the furthest south we were to get on our trip. We were at 64°10' South 63°10'West if you want to hone in on that with your maps or GPS.


On Petermann we also saw Adelie and Gentoo penguins. this Gentoo was kind enough to pose for a length of time for me.

Palmer Station

After lunch we were to meet our first people who lived in Antarctica. We visited the U.S. Palmer Station on Anvers Island. Since they are actively doing science, we didn't meet all the team of the station, but we got a quick tour and a chance to visit their souvenir shop. Imagine traveling 7,000 miles halfway around the world to buy souvenirs that were made in China, shipped 6,000 miles to the States, then shipped another 7,000 miles to Antarctica! Then we will bring them back another 7,000 miles. The souvenirs are more traveled than we are.

There are 44 people here in the summer, and 20 in the winter. They are self sufficient, generating their own electricity and water. They get a shipment of food every 6 weeks. Tourists break the boredom for them, although they also have a "hot tub" to relax in.

Ice near gangway

Getting everybody back on board from Palmer Station was about the only time that the crew was a little nervous.

While we were at Palmer, a huge house-sized block of ice calved from a glacier across the bay. The current moved the debris across the bay and directly around where the Orlova had anchored. Large pieces of ice were moving along both sides of the ship. The little Zodiacs found it difficult to maneuver into position by the gangway without being pushed away by SUV-sized blocks of ice.

They tried to use one zodiac to move the largest pieces out of the way of a second one with passengers, but the ice was coming too quickly. The gangway was lowered on the other side of the ship, but that wasn't any better. The other option was to weigh anchor and move the ship further from the ice filled channel. Eventually, the debris cleared enough to get everybody back on the ship.

After leaving Palmer Station and Anvers Island, the captain maneuvered the ship through some scenic, berg-filled channels as we worked our way northward. By late evening, we were again in the open sea of the Drake Passage.

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