— Dane Creek

Day 8: Lemaire Channel and More Drake Passage

(This is part of a series of re-posts from my trip to Antarctica in 2009)

The weather today is even worse than it was yesterday. Around 11am it was actually snowing outside with big fat flakes. What happened to summer?

Overnight we made it to the start of the Lemaire Channel. It really looks and feels like Antarctica. It’s pretty narrow with tall mountains and glaciers on each side of the boat with icebergs going by. Even though it was raining everyone ran for their gear and stood out on deck to take photos. I shot a bunch of shots in less than 1/2 an hour, plus a whole lot of video.

They scrapped all landings and zodiac tours for today due to weather. We’re just going to keep pushing for the Antarctic Circle. We have to come through this channel on the way back anyway so the hope is the weather will be better on the return. The smallish bergs we saw in the Lemaire was all to see today.

Since the Lemaire Channel we’ve essentially been back in the Drake Passage and the boat is rocking like it. We are hauling ass (11 knots) for Marguerite Bay and the Antarctic Circle. Current ETA is midnight and most folks, including the crew, are excited. Our expedition leader has never made it to Marguerite Bay in seven years of doing Antarctic cruises! The weather report is still iffy. If all goes well we’ll be in the bay by 6am with tons of huge icebergs and floating glaciers. Since it’ll be 24 hour daylight if the weather is good we’ll all be woken up and the crew will drop zodiacs for some shots.

To help pass the time today I took Minky out for a trip around the ship. I got a pic of him with Jeff Schewe, hanging out with Renee the hotel manager, sitting on the Captain’s lap on the bridge, sitting on my lap on the bridge, and writing e-mail on the ship computer. Still to come is a trip to the infirmary for a check-up from the doc. He’s a huge hit with the other photographers and we’re going to see if we can get a survival suit out for him to dress up in for a photo.

Yesterday I went out on the bridge to take a look around and Joey the assistant captain was there. He’s a nice guy and asked if I knew computers. When I said yes he whipped out his iPhone and asked me if I could help him get it connected to the ship’s e-mail server. *laugh*. It took a little bit of futzing but I got it up and running. In exchange he’s going to see if he can get me into the engine room to take some photos. I went through an entire wall jug of Purel on my hands after touching the iPhone though!