Part two of the Journey South article.
Penguins and Ice Bergs
Thursday, 19 December started at 0530 with a Met Observation up on the bridge. The fog finally lifted and the sun came out for a bit, although due to wind it was a bit colder than before. At some stage during the day we came across quite a lot of icy bits and a few growlers, with one of them occupied by a pair of Chin Strap Penguins — my first penguins of the trip!
We also saw a few more ice bergs and again I managed to get a few shots of them, which are much better than anything I came across before.
Sea Ice, Minke Wales and South Polar Circle!
As of Friday, 20 December, we’re inside the South Polar Circle! Yay!
The other highlights include hitting the sea ice, which at that time was fairly loose, but which was getting thicker and thicker as we went along.
I also spotted a Minke Whale in the distance. At first I just saw the spray of water as he breathed out, but then I could see his back and his dorsal fin. Too far to take a picture though…
More bergs and wild life
More and thicker sea ice and bergs. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, so here’s a couple of thousand words for you:
I’ve also experimented a bit with panoramas. The following bergs are each made of a few pictures stitched together:
We have also started the FID’s training on the ship, which consists of a number of presentations / sessions around:
- Arrival to Halley
- Relief operation
- Waste Management
- Bio-security (fancy name for a presentation about how to prevent new species from being brought into Antarctica)
- VHF radio use
Finally on Monday, 23 December 2013, we made it through the sea ice and out into what’s called a Shore Lead, which is basically a fancy name for a body of open water close to the shore. The ice gets pushed by the wind blowing off shore, creating the shore lead. This allows us to go again at our cruise speed of 10-12 knots.
It was only a matter of hours for us to see the edge of the Ice Shelf, but first here’s a few more shots of interesting (and beautiful!) ice bergs:
Christmas, Ice Shelf
In Poland we start Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve (unlike Ireland or UK), so it was time to call home and wish everyone Happy Christmas. It’s quite fortunate though, as this means I got a hold of the ship’s phone much easier than I would have on Christmas Day.
We also arrived to the edge of the Ice Shelf and went west along it towards our destination, N9 (which is a name of one of the relief sites near Halley).
We also had a very funny encounter with a seal. We came across this piece of floating ice about the size of a typical living room, with a seal on top of it. The Captain decreased the speed to maybe 1-2 knots, and we were inching closer and closer towards this piece of ice. The seal noticed us (at that time he was lying with his back towards us and looked “over his shoulders” towards us) and he growled a bit trying to discourage us from getting any closer… We very gently touched the edge of the ice with our bow, but he must have felt the vibration and decided to move… about 5 metres further!
On Christmas Day we had a nice Christmas Lunch, we were singing Carols at the foc’s’le and generally had a good time, and finally we arrived to N9. We effectively arrived a day early to allow both the Winterers at Halley and ourselves to have a nice Christmas lunch, so we moved towards the Creeks (another relief site) and back a couple of times. We also parked agains the ice shelf for the lunch itself, and this was when I got the best Penguin shots to date:
And finally a shot of the Ice Shelf with a BAS Caboose on top for reference:
Arrival to Halley
We made our way from the Shack to Halley in the SnoCats (the two vehicles to the right of the picture; the third one, on the very left, is a Pisten Bully):
and finally, after two and a half weeks since leaving the UK, and after 10 months since this whole adventure started when I submitted my job application to BAS, we arrived to Halley: