Chris' (Previous) Daily Journal
February 17, Antarctic Adventure
We awakened this morning to icebergs and “ice blink”. We were in Iceberg Alley – some of them were as large as 1100 feet long and 300 feet high. We have a lecturer on board who updates us throughout the day with various items of interest. He explained to us this morning what ice blink is – as we looked off into the distance, we could see a solid white glare – it seemed as if the sky and the water met. The white glare is solid ice. It wasn’t that far away from us.
The Captain announced that during the night, the ship encountered impassable areas of ice, so we went from Plan A to Plan B. Plan B was then abandoned this morning -- again due to ice. Prior to abandoning Plan B, the ship tried to maneuver around and break through some of the sea ice. We then went to Plan C – and that plan was to find clear water and head for Elephant Island.
As the Captain has repeatedly told us, cruising the Antarctica waters is very unusual and unpredictable. The itinerary is mainly determined by Mother Nature versus the Navigator. Our ship was in contact with another ship -- the Ioffe. Around 11am, they were about six miles north of our location. They were locked in ice fields also. They were checking north to south and our Captain was looking for a clear passage south to north. Fortunately, both ships are members of the IAATO – International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, so they can communicate their findings.
The sky early morning was relatively clear and John was able to capture some pictures of whales, penguins and seals. However, by mid-morning, we were in foggy conditions and couldn’t see very far past our balcony railings. The Captain has renamed our ship now to the Prinsendam Expedition.
After lunch, open water was found, the sky cleared of the fog and we headed north. Of course, due to all the delays, the day’s travel was altered and we did not go to Elephant Island. It would have been interesting, but since we were not getting off the ship, I doubt that we missed a lot.
The historical significance about Elephant Island is that it was part of the Ernest Shackleton expedition with the ship Endurance. The ship was frozen in ice from January till November, 1915. The crew then had to abandon the ship and lived on an ice flow for five months. In April, 1916, Shackleton’s crew loaded into lifeboats and landed on Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton and a few men headed to South Georgia to obtain help. They reached a Norwegian whaling station and finally on August 30, 1916 they were able to rescue all the crew from Elephant Island. There’s a glacier on Elephant Island named the Endurance.
The ship has been doing an excellent job of accommodating all the passengers for the breakfast and lunch meals. It’s been too cold to eat outside, limiting the available seats in the Lido dining room. So, they set up an express breakfast and a self-service luncheon buffet in the aft dining room. It’s a lot more work for the crew, but it has really worked well to minimize the rush at breakfast and lunch.
We continue to be pleased and impressed with the quality of service from the entire staff. We’re at sea all day tomorrow heading for the Falkland Islands. The weather there is “iffy”, so we’re hoping we’re able to leave the ship. We want to see the Gentoo Penguins.
We probably have just a couple more days of cool weather, as we’ll be in Buenos Aires on Monday, the 22nd. We’ll probably pack up our heavier clothes to give us more room in the closet, since we should not need them again.