Speedy Drake

After a speedy crossing of the Drake Passage we called in to Portlockroy, the oldest UK Antarctic base. Clouds had been low the last few days so, when the sun did come out, it was very welcome. It lit up the surrounding mountains and showed there pristine beauty! At midday we were welcomed at the base. We got our passports stamped and checked out the museum and left the Portlockroy people to welcome the next visitors… Of to Paradise Bay the next day.

An early start to get the best light in the Neumar Strait. Spectacular! Coming into Paradise Bay the clouds lifted again and showed us where this place got its name! Simply awesome! We anchored of the Chilean base and went for a short hike on the nearby point. On the way back we visited the base and were very welcome. The story was told about the two scientist that spent a winter under a turned over water boat doing their studies. When they where being picked up they told the party to come back in a month because their research was not done yet. This is way the anchorage is called water-boat point. Early next morning saw us of to Danco Island. We made the hike to the summit and had a 360 view of the bay! The chicks at the Gentoo colony are getting big and are nearly ready to go! When the dingy came in with the last crew an ice berg tried to move us out the bay, time to go! Into the Gerlache Strait, destination Governoren harbor. An old whalers hull lies half submerged on a shallow patch. It is the closest thing to getting along side in Antarctica. We took full advantage of this and did not have anchor watch that night!

Next morning I woke up to the howling of the wind. The rigging was shivering as was I. The plan was to leave at 0600 as we do every morning. Not this time! At 0700 it looked a lot better and of we went. Destination Trinity Island. The weather had cleared but was still upset and stayed like that the rest of the day. We took Murray harbour as a short cut. Enki had christened the surveyed part “Tecla harbour”. Infect Enki and Will had sounded the place out on our last trip. We where desperate for an anchorage when the wind picked up. They had taken the dingy and a shackle attached to a string to find a safe passage. Just over and passed a moraine we found 6 mtr and anchored out of reach of any ice flows. This time we used it as a scenic short cut. The Fur seals were back and moulding and when we came out on the other side ,the Gerlache was full of Humpback Whales. They where a happy bunch breaching and flapping there tails. They did not seem to mind the wet snow as much as I did… After a good night at anchor in Mikkelsen harbour we are of to cross the Bransfield to Livingston Island. The forecasted wind is a bid to much for Deception Island. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow!

All well on board, Gijs Sluik

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