— Dane Creek

Day 9a: Transit to Marguerite Bay, Stonington Island

We’ve crossed the Antarctic Circle. We’re the only ship down here. Our current location is 68 °11.5750 S 66° 59.1368 W if you want to punch it into Bing Maps to see where we are.

I used to think penguin poo was the worst smell in Antarctica. It’s not. That honour belongs to whatever Bronwyn smeared in my hair last night after I kissed Jeff Schewe’s surprisingly soft bare foot. Minky’s heart stopped when he saw that, and I had to start CPR and mouth to mouth. Jeff was kind enough to take photos of both events before spearing Minky on a trident and taking a bite out of his back. Poor Minky.

I have a patch back on. Yesterday while I was flipping through photos in Photosynth the boat was rocking more than usual and it just made me feel ill. So I stuck a new patch on, resigned to the fact that my mouth will feel like I’ve sucked on a sand dune for the next day or two.

At about 10am this morning we could see islands off the port side of the ship again. But cause for even more excitement is that we could actually see individual bands of clouds. By god there was actually texture in the sky that could be printed. And it got even better from there. By the time we anchored at Stonington Island in the afternoon there were clear blue skies with patches of beautiful clouds and ice everywhere. Kissing Jeff’s foot was worth it after all!

At lunch I had one of those "holy crap" moments. I was sitting around a table with four other folks and we were chatting photos and Lightroom and other geeky things. Then it hit me who else was at the table. Ian Lyons, Thomas Knoll, Seth Resnick, and Jeff Schewe. !!!

On the way to Stonington Island we pushed through a couple of big flows of sea ice. There were lots of seals lying on them and a few wayward penguins. The bergs were incredible. So blue!

Since about 4pm we’ve done not much other than shoot. Before dinner half of us went on to the island to explore the abandoned British and American outposts while the other half went cruising around icebergs. I spent my entire two hours inside the British outpost buildings in nearly total darkness doing 30+ second ISO3200 exposures. The colours and leftover junk inside were incredible. You just had to be patient and try many, many, times to get the focus right. In the last 8 hours or so I’ve shot for 6 hours and have more than 600 new photos to sift through. Oh, and I managed to slip in a roll of B&W as well!

We had a late dinner and then went out again. This time I got to go cruising around the icebergs in the bay. The light was perfect, the sun is “setting” and gave wonderful light to all the ice.

After returning to the ship I immediately blew another hour on deck taking pictures of the surroundings. By now the sky is in full sunset mode with pinks and blues and purples bouncing off the ice. Of course since we’re south of the circle it’s going to stay like this. All night. While we head north up to “the gullet”. There will be little, if any sleep, tonight.

Assuming we do get to bed our wakeup call for tomorrow is 5am. We’ll be parked at some island farther north and start doing zodiac landings and cruises at 5:30. They’ll have a hearty brunch for us when we are done. From now on we’re heading north through all the little channels that we avoided on the way down due to weather. Michael wasn’t kidding when he said yesterday that we may not sleep for the next 24-48 hours.