Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Part 4 Antarctic Peninsula - January 2015

When we rode the bike into Ushuaia in December 2012 we hoped that one day we would board a ship and sail to the Antarctica and Complete the Ice to Ice Adventure.

In January 2015 we set off on a cruise to Antarctica.

The expedition crew comprised an exceptional group of experts in polar history, geology, birds and sea life. Their input ensured this cruise in unlike any other we have done.
For example Tom Hart and Hila levy from Oxford university were on board and were conducting  penguin research on shore.
The ship's destination each day was determined by weather and ice conditions. The maps at the end of this post show the zigzag direction of the ship.  We managed to make land fall at all possible locations apart from Marguerite Bay where there was too much ice.


 Al fresco dining on deck-  long twilight and a very cold evening.
Kayaking was an option, Stand up paddle boarding, too.













One last shore landing.

 These views from the bridge give an indication of the stormy return crossing of the Drake Passage.


Safe harbour.
All is calm in Ushuia.

These maps show our route from Ushuaia and back via Marguerite Bay south of the Antarctic Circle 


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Part 3 Antarctic Peninsula January 2015


When we rode the bike into Ushuaia in December 2012 we hoped that one day we would board a ship and sail to the Antarctica and Complete the Ice to Ice Adventure.

In January 2015 we set off on a cruise to Antarctica.

Brown Research Station is staffed by Argentine researchers.
We were closely monitored as we walked between the metal-clad buildings.

The numbers of tourists allowed onshore at any time is restricted to 100 by a voluntary agreement among Antarctic tour operators 
Since our ship had around 170 passengers we went ashore in two shifts. Whilst half our number were ashore the others spent an hour and a half zodiac cruising through icebergs observing bird and sea  life.

There were strict requirements for decontamination  of our boots when we re-boarded Ocean Diamond.
Brown Research Station


 Dick took up the snow shoeing option.

 I went for a walk.
Ski poles were good substitutes for crutches.
Note my Tilley hat which had travelled everywhere with me since June 2012 when we began our motorcycle journey in Vancouver - the home of tilley hats.

 Mosses and worts...
 ...and large seals
 Ice for a gin and tonic. Plenty for everyone.

The afternoon landing involved going ashore onto a very rocky beach.
 A good challenge for me.


Gentoo  penguins are better adapted to getting around in this location than I am.





Back to the ship after another spell-binding day.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Port Lockroy - Antarctic Peninsula, 14 January 2015

When we rode the bike into Ushuaia in December 2012 we hoped that one day we would board a ship and sail to the Antarctica and Complete the Ice to Ice Adventure.
In January 2015 we set off on a cruise to Antarctica.
Here are images of the Antarctic Peninsula.

My apologies for confusing folk who thought I was in the Antarctic now.
It is too dark and too cold at this time of the year.
It has been snowing in Queenstown and ice-clad roadside rock faces were perfect stimuli for me to go back and review our icy Antarctic journey in January.

As we sailed through the Neumayer Channel (64degS) the cloud lifted and glaciated mountains surrounded us.
The air was punctuated by the occasional bark of an iceberg calving off the glaciers.
 Some folk are cruising among the icebergs in this yacht.

Gentoos sit on their stony nests and tend their young.
 The crew have marked our paths so that we are well clear of penguins.  We are walking along penguin routes that take them from their nests to the sea.
Their smell and their calls fill the air.




 The promo for the Penguin Post Office to be broadcast on TVNZ this week reminded me of our own visit to the southern-most British Post Office in the world.
 The United Kingdom Antarctic heritage trust has restored this early explorers hut. Income from the postoffice and the shop is used for ongoing maintenance of British Antarctic Huts and four huts managed by the New Zealand Antarctic Trust.
 Stores, a cooking range and recipe books are on show.  Seal brain omelette, anyone?





A group of four young folk are taking care of the Port Lockroy store, Post office and museum.
We get to return to the comforts of our cruise ship.












Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Antarctic Circle beckons.

When we rode the bike into Ushuaia in December 2012 we hoped that one day we would board a ship and sail to the Antarctica and Complete the Ice to Ice Adventure.
In January 2015 we set off on a cruise to Antarctica.

Two years prior to the cruise we rode into Ushuaia on a motorcycle. 
The end of a five month journey from the Arctic. Dick rode north to Buenos Aires with Ken and I flew back to New Zealand. 
This time Dick and I left together on the Ocean Diamond on a  Quark cruise to Antarctica. 
We chose this particular cruise because we are hoping to cross the Antarctic Circle and to complete the Ice to Ice adventure by walking on the ice in Antarctica.

Words are inadequate to describe what we saw... 
Magnificent scenes. Glaciers, Mountains, Icebergs, stormy seas, and eerily calm bays.
Tenacious wildlife - penguins, whales, birds 
Evidence of  historic explorers and present day researchers..  
The scenes were often too big for my camera.

A sister Quark ship was leaving port just before us.

Farewell Ushuaia 


Bulky vivid yellow Antarctic proof jackets and thermal gumboots were supplied. It felt as if we were clad in enough gear for a moon landing.
I had a recent ankle fracture and when I wasn't wearing a  moon boot I managed to fit ankle+air cast into a size 14 thermal gumboot.  I didn't want to miss out on any adventures. There were plenty.


 Most days we went ashore a couple of times and had  a couple of hours each morning and afternoon  cruising among the icebergs and wildlife in a zodiac.


Only a few more steps to negotiate and a strong 'fireman's' grip and I am on board a zodiac with a very well-informed naturalist who is also the skipper for this jaunt.. 










I wonder what the icebergs look like through these lenses?

After  a couple of hours mostly out of sight of the Ocean Diamond it is reassuring to see her ahead.


 All aboard... 

Later we woke up and went out onto the  freshly snow-covered deck at around 1a.m. in broad daylight as the ship crossed the Antarctic Circle.