PLA24-21, trip log, Antarctica Peninsula

by Oceanwide Expeditions

Bitácora

Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Fecha: 12.12.2021
Posición: 55°53’S / 067°42’W
Viento: SW 6
Clima: Part. clouds
Temperatura del Aire: +8

So here we are at last in Tierra del Fuego, at the bottom of the world. Well, from Ushuaia we’ll be going south...a long way south. But for today, we ambled about this lovely Patagonian city, savouring the local flavors and enjoying the sights. Ushuaia marks the end of the road in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, but also the beginning – the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Sitting in the bus, in front of MV Plancius, our home for the next 19 days, we are thrilled to be so close to get on the ship. Martin, our expedition leader for the voyage, called us in group to get onboard where we met Aleks, the hotel manager, and all his team. It was time for us to discover our cabins and the ship, which is quite of a maze…

Everyone was on board and for the first time we heard on the PA system an announcement. We had to meet in the lounge or the dining room for the security presentation. We all gathered in the lounge on deck five to begin our safety briefing. First was a video, entertaining but also clearly showing us what was important to pay attention to on the ship for our safety. Romano and Nino gave the different instruction in case something happen, even if it is unlikely, better safe than sorry. We were standing outside waiting for the ship to leave Ushuaia when the alarm announcing the SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) Safety and Lifeboat Drill rung. Everyone went to their cabin picking their life jacket and gathering in their respective muster stations.

Let’s the trip begin, Plancius was slowly leaving the port under Ushuaia’s sunset. Even with the overcast weather, the light was beautiful. Shortly after, around 8pm, Alex called us in the dining room for our first dinner onboard. We could feel the excitement in the air while everyone was enthusiastically chatting waiting for the meal to be served. After dinner, some of us went to the lounge to enjoy the end of the evening, but most of us went directly to bed after an exhausting but oh long-waited day. Knowing that we had a long crossing toward
us, we went to bed hoping that tomorrow we will be out of the Beagle channel. The real journey just started, and everyone is excited to arrive in Antarctica.

Day 2: At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage

At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage
Fecha: 13.12.2021
Posición: 56°23.5’S / 065°43.6’W
Viento: WNW 6
Clima: Part. clouds
Temperatura del Aire: +4

Eduardo woke us up with his first mysterious music which will be part of a quiz at the end of the trip. After our first delicious breakfast on the ship, all passengers were invited to attend the Expedition introduction and mandatory IAATO Briefing.

After a delicious lunch in the dining room, it was time for us all to go and collect our rubber boots in the boot room on deck 3. This was quite a challenge already because the Drake was a little shaky, but the staff managed to distribute them swiftly, which reduced the time passengers had to spend in the lower decks to a minimum. These boots will be part of our landing equipment for the entire length of the expedition cruise. Divers and Kayakers then met with their respective guides to get a briefing on their coming activities.

During our first recap in the evening, Eduardo gave us information about the weather forecast for the next day, and the program for the next days as we cross the Drake. He also explained the bathymetry and the ocean currents in the Drake passage. Steffi then proceeded to introduce us to the world of albatrosses as we already started to have some visiting the ship, mainly black-browed albatrosses and Royal albatrosses, the world largest flying bird with its three-meter wingspan. Pippa explained to us the different boundaries and definitions of reaching Antarctica, especially the concept of the Antarctic convergence.

Day 3: At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage

At Sea to Antarctica – Drake’s Passage
Fecha: 14.12.2021
Posición: 59°54.7’S / 061°59.6’W
Viento: NW 6
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +4

Eduardo woke us up this morning with another mysterious music, and shortly after that Alex our hotel manager invited us to go and have breakfast. We all met afterwards in the observation lounge to carry out our Biosecurity. All passengers had to fight the shaky Drake and bring their outer layers, gloves, hats, backpacks, tripods etc. to vacuum them and inspect them for any potential sources of biological material like seeds or soil. This is done in order to avoid introducing invasive species to Antarctica which has a very special and delicate flora and fauna.

After a short break it was then time to attend the mandatory zodiac briefing during which our passengers got acquainted with the procedures of embarking and disembarking the zodiacs, how the gangway is operated, and how the landings take place. Again, we had to carry out this briefing in two groups in order to keep the gatherings to low numbers until we take our next Covid test, which we did in the early afternoon. Martin our doctor and George who is a nurse and the doctor’s assistant ran the testing, assisted by Maricel and Pierre. The entire testing was carried out swiftly and all passengers, crew and staff tested negative. We still enforce all the necessary measures to prevent any potential transmission like carrying masks in the public areas and washing and disinfecting hands as often as possible.
In the afternoon Koen gave a lecture on the “Brief History of Penguins”. He went through the evolution of penguins and gave an introduction to the penguin species we hope to see in Antarctica. Pippa continued then with her lecture on “Marine mammals of Antarctica”, which introduced us to the different species of seals, dolphins and whales we might encounter during our expedition.

This very informative lecture focused on some species in particular like humpback whales with the interesting songs they produce. She finished her talk explaining the different ways in which our passengers can contribute to citizen Science projects like with the platform Happy Whale.

Before the daily recap in the evening Koen our camping guide gave the mandatory camping briefing. At recap Eduardo gave us the information about the weather forecast for the next day and explained his plans to visit Half Moon Island the next day in the South Shetland Islands, and then sailing down to Deception Island, but this plan A is of course weather dependant. Maricel gave us a briefing about snowshoes, Zet our kayaking guide gave a short introduction to kayaking, and Laura concluded the recap with her presentation on geology of Deception Island, which is a volcanic caldera.

Day 4: Half Moon Island / Deception Island

Half Moon Island / Deception Island
Fecha: 15.12.2021
Posición: 62°35.1’S / 059°53.4’W
Viento: W 8
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +2

The initial plan was to carry out our first landing in Half Moon Island in the Southern Shetland Islands. The weather forecast predicted some wind that could reach the limits of what we can carry out our zodiac operations in. But because Half Moon Island is crescent shaped and lays in the lee of Livingston Island, we decided to approach the island in order to check the conditions. Unfortunately once on site the wind was over 30 miles per hour, with gusts of wind over 40 miles per hour, so we had to cancel our first landing.

Eduardo, our expedition leader, had planned to have a second landing on Deception Island, which is a volcanic caldera offering some shelter within the crater. But half way towards Deception Island it was clear that the wind and the sea conditions were too rough and would not allow us to make our landing, so Eduardo decided instead to head straight towards the Antarctic Peninsula through the Bransfield Strait in order to look for shelter. Crossing the Bransfield Strait was still a very rough undertaking, but once we reached the Peninsula the sea calmed down and we managed to get a little rest from the heavy seas. Antarctica was at sight at last, and we spent the evening cruising along this amazing landscape and photographing our first icebergs in a beautiful twilight.

During our cruising hours we had the pleasure to listen to a series of talks. The first one was from George on photography during which he gave us information not only on the different settings to use for different situations, but he also insisted on the different ways to compose a beautiful picture, especially asking yourself what emotions you would like to trigger with your pictures. Koen then gave us a presentation on camping, on how to prepare before going ashore, on how to assemble your sleeping bags, and on what equipment.

Day 5: Cuverville Island / Neko Harbour / Stony Point

Cuverville Island / Neko Harbour / Stony Point
Fecha: 16.12.2021
Posición: 64°40.4’S / 062°31.8’W
Viento: NNE 1
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -1

Today we woke up to the mysterious music played by Eduardo and to beautiful views of the Antarctic Pensinsula with its glorious peaks and endless glaciers. After our breakfast we were invited to join the activities on Cuverville Island. The wind conditions were very good and our kayakers and divers got their gear ready as well.

This is our first landing and our first encounter with penguins, and our guides have set up two observation points on opposite sides of the landing in order to observe two colonies of gentoo penguins. Very quickly our passengers realise that if you stay low and quiet, the penguins will actually come up to you and check you out, as they are quite curious little animals. We were also able to observe skuas flying around the colonies waiting for some penguins to leave their nest. On one occasion one skua managed to steal an egg and ate it on front of some of our guests. There were also some snowy sheath-bills around the colonies looking for bits and scarps. Everybody was so excited by our first encounter with penguins that they took lots of photographs. The were some pretty strong catabatic winds coming from the hills, but they made for very interesting photographic opportunities.

Every now and then the sun would peek through the clouds, and the colors would change drastically. After this successful landing we all got back on the ship to a delicious lunch. In the afternoon we had another activity on our agenda, and after repositioning the ship we landed in Neko harbour where we had another unforgettable encounter with gentoo penguins. We got to spend a long time with them.

Back on the ship we attended Eduardo’s recap during dinner, giving priority to the campers who were going to spend the night on the ice. After a quick dinner, Koen, Juan and Maricel took a large group of 40 campers plus 20 scouts to Stony Point, the place where they would spend the night. Our scout passengers had a ceremony on land after which the 20 additional passengers were taken back to the ship. The ship then moved away and left the campers on their own. Our scout passengers obviously had a lot of experience camping and they built some very elaborate snow shelters for the night.

Dive 1: Cuverville Island (Check Dive)
GPS: 64°40,5S / 62° 37,3W
Divetime 35min
Max Depth 23fsw / 7m
This was our “check dive”. What that really means is that we did a weight check before descending. We were over a shallow bottom so that if anyone was seriously over weighted, they could not sink down to a dangerous depth. John-Aaron and I were both fine, so I returned to the surface to grab my camera from the boat, and we descended again.

The dive was over a cobble and sand/mud bottom. Close to the island a rock wall went from the surface to a depth of about 10 feet (3m). I collected animals (under permit) for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and took photographs of the bottom, animals, and other divers. I brought up eight sample bags with animals in them from various points in the dive.

One of the interesting animals we saw was salp. This is a chain of genetically identical animals living in a colony. It was about 10 feet (3m) deep, and I took a photograph of John-Aaron looking at it. We also found a grouping of sea stars clinging to the base of the vertical rock wall, which I photographed. (Jeffrey Bozanic)

Kayaking Cuverville
The first kayak tour started in protection from the southern wind. We saw all the gentoo penguins coming down from the colony to go out to feed. We saw all the grounded icebergs and decided to try to paddle around the island. On the backside of Cuverville the wind picks up to gusts over 30 knots that did push the kayak backwards.

Dive 2: Neko Harbour
GPS: 64° 54,7S / 62° 55,2W
Divetime 20min
Max Depth 44fsw / 13m
We were supposed to dive the shore at Neko Harbor, but there was too much loose pack and brash ice pushed against the shoreline by the wind, so it was unsafe to do so. Even if you can enter through the loose ice, it is dangerous as the wind can compact it further, making it impossible to push through to the surface from below. So we went to Plan B.

Plan B was diving an iceberg. Our dive guide staff selected an appropriate chunk of ice, and off we went. The water was quite green (probably phytoplankton), and visibility was only about 6-8 feet (2-2.5m). Besides the plankton, visibility might have been reduced by underwater melting of the iceberg, causing fresh water to mix with sea water. It was interesting to see the erosional melt patterns on the subsurface ice, and to slide beneath the rounded edges of the iceberg so that there was a ceiling above us. We found a rock frozen into the ice. When the berg melts more, this piece of rock will drop to the bottom, far from where it was originally deposited. That ought to confuse future geologists! (Jeffrey Bozanic)

Kayaking Neko
Beautiful day at Neko. Almost no wind at we kayaked down the bay. Highlights where the 2 calvings from the glacier and paddle in the brash ice.

Camping at Stony Point
Camping in Antarctica sounds extreme and intense and we ordered nothing less for our group of campers. Starting out with a long ride from the ship to our landing site we already could experience some of the winds that we could expect that night. At our camping area the snow was quite soft and we kept falling through until our knees. Snowshoes were considered but after some excellent team work we carved out several paths throughout our icy neighborhood which made it possible to move around with relative ease.
We shared Stony Point with the scout group this evening who organized an extra ordinary ceremony on the ice to announce and celebrate the promotion of some of their members. The scout group had created a separate area with certain paths where they were able to realize the ceremony.

For the campers the night started smooth with little wind which gave everybody enough time to find a good spot and dig their hole to sleep in. The holes were built in all sorts and shapes. Some deep within the snow bank and others with high walls standing on top of the ice. After the holes were dug the beds were made soon after and preparations were made to go to bed. After the ceremony was done, some of the participants were taken back to the safety of the ship although most scouts choose to endure this adventure of sleeping out on the ice. We had some visitors coming by who tried to find a way to sleep with us on the plateau but seeing that the Gentoo penguins and Weddell Seal are no expert climbers they had to move on to find another piece of ice to rest on for the night.
Later that night the ice cold wind started picking up so everybody found there refuge inside there duck out hole. We were about to get a taste of the life of an early Antarctic explorer camping out on the ice.

The next morning we had an early wakeup call to get ready for our pick up time at 6:30. Many people were already up beforehand packing up their gear due to the ice cold winds that we had felt throughout the night. For many people this meant it was an experience of a life time….. but also the only one. With the tide getting lower and lower the zodiacs had a difficult time reaching the landing area but In the end we were able to get rescued and were taken back safely to our home for the past few days, the Plancius.

Day 6: Skontorp Cove - Paradise Bay / Danco Island

Skontorp Cove - Paradise Bay / Danco Island
Fecha: 17.12.2021
Posición: 64°49.9’S / 063°01.3’W
Viento: SW 5
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -1

Eduardo woke us up again with another mysterious song that will be part of the trivia at the end of the trip. After a wonderful breakfast we all boarded our zodiacs to have a cruise through the magnificent landscape of Scondorp Cove in Paradise Bay. As the name indicates it is an idyllic place surrounded by mountain peaks, glaciers, and the cove is only partially filled with sea ice. It is located very close to the Argentinian Brown Base, but unfortunately due to Covid we are not able to visit the station. During our cruise we were able to observe the glaciers, and we found a Weddell seal resting at the surface of the water. There were some crab-eater seals on land as well just hauled out on the snow. The birdlife in this area was very interesting, as in addition to the nesting blue-eyed shags and Antarctic tern, there were several snow petrels flying very close over our heads. Towards the end of the cruise the wind picked up and we hurried back to the ship in order to warm ourselves before heading to lunch.

While some of the passengers were doing the zodiac cruise, some other adventurous passengers went on a kayak tour with Zet and they got to explore the coastline up close and personally. Our divers were also active and they had a 30 minute dive. Right after lunch we carried out another Covid test and we were all pleased to learn that the entire ship remained Covid free. We then started to board our zodiacs again, but this time for a landing on Danco. There are several gentoo penguin colonies here spread over the steep hill. The snow was still quite soft so we used snow shoes to make it to the upper colonies. The effort was really worthwhile because not only did we get to see the penguin highways and the colonies, but the views of the bay and the glaciers from higher up were simply breathtaking. On the lower colony some passengers spotted a leopard seal which was stealthily cruising in the water checking out the penguin colonies.

At the end of the landing most of the passengers participated in the polar plunge, some dressed in Christmas outfits. It takes a little bit of courage because the water is quite cold, but it is an unforgettable experience, and all the participants did not regret doing it. As a reward, hot chocolate with rhum was waiting for our guests upon re-embarkation on Plancius, which warmed their hearts. This was another unforgettable day in this incredible wilderness of Antarctica.

Back on the ship and after feeling warm again, we then attended Eduardo’s recap about the program and the weather forecast for tomorrow. After the delicious dinner some passengers still stayed in the lounge socialising and enjoying the beautiful landscapes. Before going to bed we were lucky enough to spot a pair of humpback whales which were feeding very close to the ship and stayed for about half an hour with us.

Dive 3: Shack Wall, Paradise Bay
GPS 64°54,7S / 62° 55,2W
Divetime 30min
Max Depth 60fsw / 20m
This was a beautiful wall dive. Visibility was approximately 50 feet / 16m. There was kelp anchored to the rocks with large leaves. There were some other type of plant that was neon orange in color. An abundance and variety of sea stars. Large white worms. Many salps were seen during the dive with multiple segments so that they were at least a couple of feet long. Also seen during the dive were amphipods and a couple of very small fish which were less than 2 inches in length. While conditions were calm during the dive, there was a surface current and choppy wind waves, so getting back to the zodiac was challenging and depleted much of my stamina. Gonzalo the Dive Guide lifted in this conditions two divers incl. the equipment out from the water in this rough conditions, the dive was peaceful, colorful, beautiful and very zen. (Kim Cardenas)

Dive 4: Danco Island
GPS 64°44,9S / 62° 38,7W
Divetime 40 min
Max Depth 37,8 fsw / 12.6 meters
The goal of the dive was to reach a 40-minute maximum time set by the dive guides after comparatively shorter dives. We saw kelp, the famous ugly Antarctica fish (as coined by Pierre), and limpets, and recovered a surface marker buoy lost by a diver. Underwater, we decided via wet notes to ascend after 40 minutes and snorkel with the penguins nearby. At the surface, we moved the zodiac closer to the shore, where we saw a leopard seal. We tried to determine if the leopard seal was hunting before we jumped back in the water. We tried to use Eric to bait the leopard seal but unfortunately the seal wasn’t feeling very inquisitive and so we did not see him or her underwater. (Ashley Stewart)

Kayaking Danco
Strong group of paddlers who wanted to go for a long paddle, but did not take long before the beauty of the day and chances to take pictures was more important. We all got great pictures of gentoos, an Adelie and a chinstrap before it was time to get Back and get changed for the polar plunge.

Day 7: Lemaire Channel / Peterman Island/ Port Charcot

Lemaire Channel / Peterman Island/ Port Charcot
Fecha: 18.12.2021
Posición: 65°06.3’S / 065°59.4’W
Viento: SW 3
Clima: Fog
Temperatura del Aire: +2

Our day started really early with an announcement from our Expedition Leader saying that we will start crossing the Lemaire Channel soon. Even if it was tempting to stay in our warm bed, we all headed to the back and front decks to admire the beautiful landscape. Around 7am, we started to enter the strait under great weather conditions, even if there was some fog. We had doubts about the ice conditions inside the channel and we were prepared to turn around in case the narrowest point would be blocked. However, the luck stayed on our side, and, as we continued, we realized that it was possible to transit the whole channel without problem.

Unfortunately our initial plan to do a landing on Peterman Island could not be carried out because of the amount of sea ice, so the captain and Eduardo decided to continue our way down to Port Charcot and to just do a ship cruise, in order to take advantage of the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers, as well as to take advantage of the pancake ice to observe the numerous seals that were hauled out. We found a large group of about 20 crab-eater seals hauled out together, and we saw a minke whale very close to the ship.

It had snowed during the previous night, and we used the opportunity to have a snowball fight on the upper deck, right behind the bridge. Our group of American scouts carried out a ceremony on the bow of Plancius to honour their members during the crossing of the Lemaire Channel. Once at Port Charcot and after an early lunch we started our zodiac cruise in order to maximise our time on the water. The weather conditions were perfect: no wind, flat sea, a little cloudy but still some sun peaking through.

There were very impressive icebergs across the entire area, and there were many penguins spread out in the water cleaning themselves on the surface. Shutting down the zodiac engine actually allowed us to be visited by these rafts of penguins and they stayed with us for quite a while, until a minke whale appeared close by, and we decided to go and have a closer look. It was swimming very close to shore and into relatively small bays, which probably meant that there was krill around. Halfway through the cruise when the wind picked up a little we got a call from the bar-zodiac in which our hotel manager Alex was visiting every single zodiac in order to offer us some hot beverages. This was very much appreciated by both our guests and the zodiac drivers, and it gave the courage and motivation to continue on our expedition through the ice.

Pippa then spotted a leopard seal close to a large tabular iceberg, and we took turns to get a closer view of this magnificent predator. But we did not stay longer than 10 minutes in total in order to not disturb it. Everybody got a good look at the leopard seal, and our photographer Juan took some impressive pictures. We found a group of gentoo penguins in which there were a couple of chinstrap penguins and even an Adelie penguin, and some passengers even got a picture with the three species.

On the way back to Plancius we were lucky to come across 3 minke whales which were slowly swimming along the ice edge, and the passed very close to our zodiacs. It is quite uncommon to see minke whales together and swimming so slowly and relaxed, so we were very lucky. These are the only baleen whales which stay all year long in Antarctica.

Back on the ship during recap, Pierre gave us a short presentation about Antarctic minke whales, and Juan did a recap on photographs taken during the camping. Up on returning to our ship, we enjoyed our traditional BBQ night, an activity in which we enjoyed very much the fine food prepared by Khabir and his staff. While eating, we were surrounded by the wonderful landscapes of the channels around us. The day ended with our ship sailing through the Lemaire Channel, but the sea was a little rougher than on the way South.

Dive 5: Port Charcot
GPS 65°04,3S / 64° 02,4W
Divetime 45min
Max Depth 33fsw / 10m
Plancius was surrounded in pack ice today. We took a Zodiac to shore, pushing through the loose ice. There was a good sized lead of ice-free water close to shore and zero wind, so we opted to dive. Some of the group dove an iceberg others dove the bottom near the shore. We had to contend with a moderately strong current throughout the dive. This was a beautiful bottom, with many animals and lots of kelp. Starfish, limpets, sea cucumbers, sponges, sea stars, amphipods, isopods, and even small fish were plentiful at this site. (Jeffrrey Bozanic)

Kayaking Port Charcot
A day that never often happen in the northern part of the peninsula. The bay was full of sea ice. We worked our way along floating pieces of ice and did a good landing on a quite small floating sea ice.

Day 8: Foyn Harbour / Portal Point

Foyn Harbour / Portal Point
Fecha: 19.12.2021
Posición: 64°33.6’S / 061°59.5’W
Viento: NW 2
Clima: Part. Clouds
Temperatura del Aire: +3

For our final day Eduardo woke us up quite early, at 6am, in order to maximise our time on the Peninsula, as the weather was forecasted to get worse throughout the end of the morning. So after a quick breakfast we all jumped into our zodiacs for a zodiac cruise in Foyn Bay. The kayakers did not go out because it was a little too windy, but our divers did not want to miss the opportunity to dive on the sunken wreck of the Governoren, an old tanker which caught fire back in the days.

The wind was quite chilly, but our adventurous passengers ventured out and we got to see blue-eyed shags, skuas, and several Antarctic terns which were perched on the structures of the wreck which were sticking out of the water.

As the wind picked up, we decided to return to Plancius at about the time we had planned to, and had an early lunch. Even though we had to make our way back North towards the Drake, Eduardo and the captain had a joker up their sleeve in case the weather would play along. They decided to attempt a short landing at Portal Point which would constitute a continental landing. Upon arrival, the wind conditions were relatively good, with some catabatics blowing from land towards the sea.

So we started our landing, and even though the landing area was rocky and tricky, our zodiac drivers mastered the landing and our passengers got safely on land. The views from the top of the hill were beautiful and to our surprise we met somebody ashore who is part of a team of explorers who is camping in the area, and who are attempting to cross over to the Weddell Sea skiing their way through. We provided them with some fresh fruit, teabags and biscuits and wished them a successful expedition. Towards the end of the landing the wind had picked up and we all got soaked on our way back to Plancius. But this experience was definitely worth it, and we were all so grateful for this last opportunity of the trip to set foot on the continent.

Back on Plancius, we attended the Recap where Eduardo told us the plans for the following two days crossing the Drake, and gave us information on the rough conditions we were expecting. During that time we had already entered the Bransfield Strait and the sea was already quite rough. George gave us a recap about Antarctic ambassadorship, looking for ways to increase the impact that our passengers can have on people once they are back home. Pippa gave us some more information on how our passengers can contribute to citizen science projects like Happy whale by submitting the photographs they have taken of humpback whale flukes. Everybody felt quite exhausted but was filled with joy to have had the incredible opportunity to visit this untouched continent. We enjoyed another delicious dinner and most of us went straight to bed in order to escape the rolling of the ship.

Dive 6: Governoren Wreck, Foyn Harbour
GPS: 64° 27,7S / 61° 51,9W
Divetime 45min
Max Depth 35fsw / 11m
This wreck lies partially submerged, with the bow proudly projecting above the surface. We started our dive at the bow, and worked our way aft on the starboard side. When we reached amidships, we crossed over the rail and explored the vessel interior. The deck was devastated, with little structure untouched by the fire that sank the vessel. It must have been terrifying to the sailors aboard. We swam the port side back to the bow, and then swam away from the wreckage. Even off the wreck we found numerous artifacts… bottles, drinking glasses, a fender, and many things I couldn’t recognize. Many of the objects on the bottom were whitish-blue. It took me a few minutes, but I finally we realized they were whale bones. Vertebrae, ribs, a skull. We suspect the coloration is from some type of bacteria coating the bones. (Jeffrey Bozanic)

Kayaking Foyn Harbour
Early morning Kayaking. We made our way between the small islands to protect us as much as we could from the wind. When we turned in on the last stretch toward the Govenoren we got strong winds hitting us and we all got very cold and were all happy to return to the ship and go directly to the breakfast.

Kayaking Portal point
Last Kayak of the trip and maybe should have been canceled due to strong wind and big swell. But we managed a little outing to feel the how strong mother nature can be in Antarctica.

Day 9: Sea day toward Ushuaia

Sea day toward Ushuaia
Fecha: 20.12.2021
Posición: 61°44.2’S / 062°47.1’W
Viento: W 5
Clima: Part. clouds
Temperatura del Aire: +8

Eduardo woke us up this morning to a rough Drake, and not many passengers dared to show up at breakfast. The ship was rolling so much that people were gliding across the dinner lounge on their chairs, and glasses of water kept tipping over.

Our staff nevertheless continued the program with a series of very interesting lectures. Steffi started off with her lecture on Adaptations to the Polar Environment in which she explained the different anatomical and physiological adaptations that animals living in these areas have gone through in order to thrive. Koen gave then a lecture on the Exploration of Antarctica in which he went through the history of the Explorers of the white continent.

Right after yet another mouthwatering lunch, our passengers were asked to return their boots to the boot room, and we managed to carry out this mission with utmost efficiency. This was then followed by another Covid testing of all passengers, staff and crew, and we were all happy to hear that the result was that everybody on board is still negative.

The rough sea conditions in the Drake did not allow us to get out on the outer decks. But most passengers had taken their precautions and had taken their seasickness medication, so more and more passengers were present during the lectures in the observation lounge. In the afternoon Maricel gave a lecture on Seabirds, the research that is being carried out on Antarctic seabirds, the threats they face, as well as the ways in which we all can contribute in our daily live to a reduction of our impact on their lives.

After dinner we were privileged to attend a lecture given by Jeffrey Bozanic who organized the American scout trip, and is a scientific diver who has worked for many years in American Research stations in Antarctica. It was a breathtaking account of all the incredible things he has achieved throughout his career. His message to the audience, especially to the young, is that it is important to have a critical mind, to ask questions, and to look for answers.

Day 10: Sea day toward Ushuaia

Sea day toward Ushuaia
Fecha: 21.12.2021
Posición: 57°21.6’S / 065°13.5’W
Viento: WSW 8
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +6

Today we were woken up by Eduardo’s enigmatic music and by the heavy rolling of the ship in the Drake shake. The conditions at sea are quite rough and it is the heaviest rolling we have experienced during the entire voyage.

It was surprising to see how many passengers had braved the conditions and had showed up in the observation lounge for the series of lectures that were about to take place during the morning. Pierre started off with a lecture on humpback whales. He explained how to identify a humpback whale, talked about their characteristics, their impressive migrations from their breeding grounds to their feeding grounds, their songs, and the empathy they show when protecting other animal species when they are attacked by killer whales. George then gave a lecture about the Antarctic Treaty system in which he explained the different mechanisms in place to regulate how Antarctica is managed between all the member nations to the Treaty, and also touched on how CCAMLR works in order to manage Antarctic marine life resources.

We then had lunch in quite tricky conditions with heavy waves which made it quite a challenge to stay seated in one place trying to hold on to our glass of water and our cutlery. But we all took it
with an excellent sense of humour. After lunch, the young representatives of our group of American scouts presented themselves, their activities, how their involvement in scouting has shaped their lives, and the different projects they carry out.

Eduardo gave a lecture on Surviving the Anthropocene, a very interesting talk out the age we are living through in which we human beings shape our planet and have an important and lasting impact on our environment and on the climate of our planet, as well as on ways to reduce our impact. His talk was followed by the highly anticipated Plancius Quiz, animated by our camping guide Koen. The quiz touched on all the lectures and recaps that have taken place during this voyage and tested our passenger ’s recollection on all the information provided. The winner of this competition was the group named “Chainsaw”, and they took home the magnificent prize of a bottle of Prosecco.

After our last delicious dinner together, we all came back to the observation lounge to view the slideshow that our young photographer Juan had put together. It was quite emotional to witness all at once all the beauties and adventures we have all shared together during these past 10 days.

Eduardo then gave his farewell talk, thanking the entire crew and his team for this very successful expedition. We all lingered in the lounge chatting and exchanging experiences and memories. It is a voyage that has marked each and every one of us forever.

Day 11: Disembarkation in Ushuaia

Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Fecha: 22.12.2021

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1718 NM
Furthest South: 65°03’S / 064°03’W

On behalf of everyone on board we thank you for travelling with us and wish you a safe journey home.

Detalles

Código del viaje: PLA24-21
Fechas: 12 dic. - 22 dic., 2021
Duración: 10 noches
Barco: El Plancius
Embarque: Ushuaia
Desembarque: Ushuaia

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Aboard El Plancius

El Plancius barco reforzado para el hielo es una embarcación ideal para cruceros de expedición polar en el Ártico y en la Antártida.

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