This is the first day at sea since leaving the Falklands. The morning temperature was a balmy 62 degrees with the sun beaming onto our veranda. I spent some time reading in shirt sleeves but I could tell it was gradually getting cooler. By noon we were in a deep fog and could barely see the ocean and the temperature had dropped to about 58 degrees. It is now 5:00 PM local time and the temperature is 43 degrees. We were told the fog was due to our crossing the convergence of the North Atlantic and South Atlantic currents with their diverse water temperatures. We are still in the fog but it is not as heavy as it previously was.
An interesting fact; when we cross the 60 degree latitude line, which we will be doing soon, we will no longer be considered passengers of a cruise line. By the rules and definitions of the Antarctic Treaty we will be considered Expeditioners. It sounds kind of strange but it is a fun concept. I guess we can legitimately say we have been on “an Antarctic Expedition”. According to the International Treaty, anyone desiring to travel below 60 degrees latitude must file with the appropriate agency, listing their proposed travel plans, and file an environmental impact statement.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We were up at 4:30AM this morning. The plan was to be at Elephant Island at 5:00 AM approximately daybreak. We were hoping the fog would have lifted enough for us to at least be able to see the island. Unfortunately more times than not, the island is cloaked in fog and low clouds with little or no visibility. When we awoke (5 minutes before the alarm), it was foggy but not so dense there was no visibility. We got dressed in our warmest clothes, the temperature was only about 38 but the wind was about 35 mph. To our astonishment and the bridge, the fog cleared and the sun rose. It was announced from the bridge that only one person on the bridge had ever seen Elephants Island this clear. This was our official Expedition Leader, John Ssplettstoesser who has been to the Antarctica an untold number of times and he had only seen it this good once. After Elephant Island we sailed for Hope Bay with an arrival time of 1:00 PM. The Argentina base of Esperanza is located here. Beyond belief, our luck was holding and we again had a beautiful cruise around the bay. By radio we were invited to land by the Argentineans, but since we did not have official permission (as filed by the Treaty requirements) as well as time we were forced to respectifully decline their generous offer. They were as excited to see us as we were them. A plane circled overhead for about 30 minutes and communicated with the bridge. Apparently they were taking photos of us as we were of them! Yes, fate was certainly favoring us today. I could literally write, if not a book at least a chapter about what we have seen and learned today but instead I will share some photos. If anyone has specific questions I will try to answer them if a following blog.
Daybreak on Elephant Island
The captain point to where Shackleton’s crew landed in 1916 and survived several months
Penguins on an iceberg
Kay and Janet bundled for the cold.
All of these photos are from Elephant Island. I will try to make another post soon with photos from Hope Bay if internet connections allow.