Day 26 February 17th

Day 26

Saturday, February 17th

Back in Ushuaia and off to the airport

We were up early to get our passports from the ship’s reception desk.  They held on to everyone’s passport while we were on the ship.

IMG_0610
We each received a certificate at the end of our voyage!

After breakfast we were given our boarding passes by a Quark’s Ushuaia representatives.

IMG_8415
Coming into Ushuaia in the morning.

On our way to get our belongings out of our cabin, we noticed this message from our kayak guides.  We were so glad that we were part of this special group!

IMG_8470

Buses took us from the ship dock to the airport.

img_0903.jpg
Ushuaia’s airport.

We had three hours until our flight.  Many of the people on our ship were also on our flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.  So we chatted and did some reading in the airport.  Our flight was 3 1/2 hours to the airport in Buenos Aires.  We again had several hours before our overnight flight to Atlanta, Georgia.  The sky was really clear when we took off from Buenos Aires.

img_4587.jpg
Just one view of part of Buenos Aires.

We went through customs in Atlanta and then had time to get from the international concourse to the concourse for our flight to Columbus!  Twenty four hours of being in airports and planes was long enough for us.  We were thankful our flights were on time and went smoothly!

This trip was an incredible adventure and we highly recommend experiencing the 7th continent.  Our words and pictures don’t adequately portray the splendor and beauty of the wildlife and landscape of Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands

!

We look forward to more traveling adventures and sharing them with you!

 

Day 23 February, 14th

Day 23

Wednesday, February 14th     Valentine’s Day

Cuverville Island, Melchior Islands, Farewell Celebration

We arrived at Cuverville Island which contains the largest gentoo penguin colony in the region.  Cuverville is located in the Errera Channel.  We were able to kayak, the winds and the weather cooperated!  We circumnavigated the island in our kayaks.  We experienced the island from the water level!

IMG_8650
Cuverville Island and Gentoo Penguins!
IMG_7698
You could really smell the penguin guano from water level.
IMG_3753
Just some of the penguins from the water.
IMG_2495
More penguins!
IMG_1937
Penguins and a fur seal from one side of the island.

As we paddled the backside of the island we saw humpback whales!  They didn’t come close enough for a picture.  We don’t have many pictures from paddling because our water camera had quit working and our point and shoot is long gone so the only photos we took are from our phone and we didn’t want to lose them!  After our morning paddling experience was finished, we did have time to take a zodiac to the island and explore on our own!

IMG_2516
“You can’t catch me!”
IMG_2489
Coming back from feeding.
IMG_2470
Look at all that guano and of course the gentoo penguins! 🙂
IMG_2458
Love the backdrop for the gentoos!
IMG_2439
A smaller penguin highway. The snow is almost gone from this part of the island!
IMG_2443
“We’re starting to get our adult feathers!”
IMG_2444
A nosy penguin!
IMG_2445
A pair of penguins coming close to the camera.
IMG_2464
“I’ll just lay here ’til this molting phase is over!”
IMG_2467
Gentoo chick wandering close by.
IMG_2479
“What are you looking at?”

After all of us were back on the ship, the anchor was raised and we headed to the Melchior Islands.  Such beauty surrounds us as we cruise to our next stop!

IMG_7915
This was the board near the dining room that we checked daily for kayaking announcements!

We had lunch and this was going to be our last time to paddle!

IMG_1464
our kayak gear!
IMG_2207
These papers were hanging on our announcement board for us to mark if we were going to paddle when it was offered. On this particular kayak destination we didn’t get to paddle because of the wind! 🙁
IMG_1379
Our kayak assignment board.

At the Melchior Islands we were able to paddle around the Dallmann Bay while the rest of the passengers were on a zodiac tour.  We were glad that we got to paddle here.  The base pictures that you see below are of the Argentinian Base Melchior.  It is a summer base that is rarely occupied but today the Argentinian flag is flying and the base is occupied!

IMG_2567
Melchior Base which is owned by Argentina.

IMG_2575

Below is the area where we paddled.IMG_2570IMG_2573IMG_2577

Below are some of the photos we took with our phones.  It was a beautiful afternoon for our last paddle.

IMG_0406IMG_8144

IMG_2743
These icebergs were very blue!

IMG_4388

IMG_3034
What a backdrop for the Ocean Adventurer!
IMG_1025
“I need longer arms”! Our attempt at a selfie! 😉

How lucky we were to paddle with such a great group of people.  A big thank you to our kayak guides: Todd, on the far left, and Tara, on the far right!

P1120226

After returning from kayaking and the last of the zodiacs returned, we had a farewell toast to Antarctica on deck 5 aft.

Champagne and hors d’oeuvres were served and Ali gave a toast.

After the farewell to Antarctica toast, our ship entered the Drake Passage!  The ship began swaying.  Many passengers did not feel well again.  Those of us at dinner enjoyed a Valentine’s Day themed meal and the dining room was decorated too.

IMG_4970
The dining room is decorated for Valentine’s Day!

Tonight’s activity was the Expedition Team hosting a charity auction!

Day 22 February 13th

Day 22

Tuesday, February 13th

Fish Islands, Prospect Point

This morning we did a zodiac cruise through the pack ice and icebergs on our way to the Minnows.  The Fish Islands are individual islands that are named after different fish species:  Flounder, Plaice, Trout, Salmon and the islets known as The Minnows!

We began our zodiac cruise south of these islands. Following the edge we headed north. We took our time and attempted to traverse the narrow passages between the icebergs, brash & forming sea ice. The sky was overcast, and at times a brisk wind carried snowflakes onto our faces.  At one point we were worried that we wouldn’t make it to see our 7th species of penguin, the Adelie!IMG_2239IMG_2240IMG_2245IMG_2251

At least we saw 2 Adelie penguins on an sea ice and a seal resting!

IMG_2256
Our first glimpse of the Adelie penguin.
IMG_2263
This pair was moving all around the ice!
IMG_2280
He just looked at us because we were disturbing his rest!

We saw some incredible looking icebergs.  You know how you see shapes in clouds, we were doing the same with the icebergs.  It was impressive the color and shape variances.  Some of the icebergs appeared to be illuminated and some are so blue.  They are spectacular!  IMG_2253IMG_2283IMG_2284IMG_2295IMG_2301IMG_2311

We finally made it and had a short time to observe the Adelie penguins at The Minnows, which are low-lying, rocky outcrops. They are occupied by Adélie penguins, with an estimated 1600 breeding pairs between 12 colonies. Blue-eyed shags also breed on the islands and a few were seen flying back to check on their chicks!

The Adelie penguins are the smallest of the Antarctic penguins.  They are about 2 feet tall and weigh 8-9 pounds!  If you’ve ever read the children’s book Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Captain Cook is an Adelie penguin.IMG_2334IMG_2321IMG_2315

It was very cold on the zodiac due to the wind and waves that got us very wet.  The temperature was about 37 degrees F.

After lunch we were going to try to kayak but it was canceled due to the windy conditions.  We went on zodiacs over to Prospect Point.

Prospect Point was our second continental landing.IMG_2347

IMG_1435IMG_9397

Here we saw the remains of a British Surveying and Geological Base J.  This base was occupied from 1957-1959.  There are remains of seals (they are mummified from many winters) that were used to feed the dogs.

IMG_2357
British Base J
IMG_2354
The remains of J.
IMG_2373
A few of the mummified seals.
IMG_2375
A close up of a seal.

There was a hike up the snow to a beautiful view of the area.IMG_2386IMG_2392IMG_2381IMG_2395IMG_2423

It was another day of adventure in Antarctica!

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 20

Day 20

February 11th

Port Lockroy on Goudier Island,  and Jougla Point, Lemaire Channel

We anchored near Port Lockroy on Goudier Island and Jugla Point.  We dressed for our kayak excursion and went to the lounge to listen to the presentation by the representative of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.  She explained what they are and that she is one of 4 spending the summer on Port Lockroy.  As soon as she finished her talk, we headed to meet our kayak guides, Tara and Todd to go paddling!

We went kayaking all around Port Lockroy and Goudier Island. The winds were light and we only had a small wind chop.  From the kayaks we spotted gentoo penguins, Antarctic fur seal, snowy sheathbill, blue-eyed shag, south polar skua, brown skua, Weddell seal, and the Wilson’s storm petrel.  Goudier Island, also known as Port Lockroy, was the site for the original Base A.  It has been refurbished with a museum and gift shop.  We explored the geological features on the backside of Goudier Island.  We continued around the island and crossed over to Jougla Point where we observed some nesting shags and soon to be fledgling Gentoo penguins.

P1010046
Paddling at Port Lockroy.
P1010056
Port Lockroy is in the background.  It was the site of the original Base A.

P1010053 When we finished our paddling, we headed to shore to explore the museum and mail our postcards.

When we visited the museum at Port Lockroy it was very interesting.  The former base was renovated and opened as a monument and museum in 1996.  Below are some pictures from the museum.

It also has the Penguin Post Office that the summer team manages and hand stamps.  As far as we know it is the southernmost post office.

IMG_2101
This is where you mail your letters and postcards.

Port Lockroy museum and post office is operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.  There are 4 women that run the museum and post office during the summer season, from November to March.  They have no running water.  They get to take a shower when a ship makes an excursion to the island!  There is also no central heating, no phone signal, and no means of communication with the world other that VHF radio and satellite phones for emergencies.  And no darkness either, it is pretty much 24 hours a day of daylight.  You also don’t have electricity that comes from a power station and no flushing toilet, it is a camping type toilet.  They also have a gentoo colony that lives all around them so they need to clean the penguin poo off the pathways while following the strict Antarctic Treaty to ensure strict guidelines on the care of the environment are adhered to!

IMG_2108
It was slippery climbing these rocks up to the museum.
IMG_2107
We tried to keep our distance from the penguins but they would join us on the paths!
IMG_2102
Part of the colony that was off limits to us! Penguins only!
IMG_2023
The building behind the penguins, is the living quarters for the 4 women who ran the museum and post office.

 

IMG_2029
The remains of a ship.
IMG_2024
“Mom and Dad where are you?”
IMG_2037
“I’m too tired to worry about these visitors!
IMG_2038
Watching the people!
IMG_2027
Waddling around the island!

 After lunch we cruised through the Lemaire Channel.  The sun wasn’t shining but the views were stunning!  The Lemaire Channel is 7 miles long by 1 mile wide!

IMG_2053
Looking ahead at the channel, it doesn’t look like our ship will fit!
IMG_2054
This seal doesn’t care as he rests on some ice!

IMG_2058IMG_2056IMG_2055IMG_2062IMG_2059

 The ship dropped anchor at Pleneau Bay which is located at the southern end of the Lemaire Channel.  This area is filled with stunning icebergs.  These large icebergs get blown in here, they run aground and slowly break up.  The pictures below show just a few of the icebergs and the surrounding area!  We were awestruck by the beauty!  We had difficulty choosing just a “few” of the various icebergs and surroundings pictures that we took!IMG_2111IMG_2108IMG_2107

IMG_2103
Gentoo penguins swimming everywhere!
IMG_2100
Gentoo penguins!

IMG_2092IMG_2081IMG_2090IMG_2088IMG_2085IMG_2082IMG_2097IMG_2104IMG_2116IMG_2117IMG_2121

IMG_2091
Just beautiful!

We spent our time at Pleneau Bay paddling through brash ice and being surrounded by swimming penguins that were feeding on krill.

We also saw a leopard seal resting on some ice.  We didn’t disturb him.

P1120133
The resting leopard seal.
P1120102
We loaded into our kayak from the zodiac!
P1120128
We’re all getting ready to head into the brash ice!
TEW-Kayaking-5641
Tara, one of our kayak guides, leading us into the ice!

 

P1120132
Our expedition leader, Ali, and our ship doctor, Christy, brought us Bailey’s and hot chocolate! Yummy!

At one point while we were all surrounded by the brash ice, Todd had us all put down our paddles and listen to the ice.  We heard “snap, crackle, and pop”!  It was quite a sensory overload!

While paddling in the bay, our point and shoot camera, came loose and fell into the water!  We were sad about its loss but it was an older camera and had served us well.  We also had downloaded everything on the card before going kayaking this afternoon.  Life is too short to worry about the small stuff!  Even though we lost the camera, this was one of our favorite paddles!  It started to snow as we were out there which just added to the magic of this surreal environment.  It was incredibly beautiful, peaceful, relaxing, and pristine environment.  We can’t think of enough adjectives to describe our surroundings!

Our dinner today was a BBQ on the aft deck.  It was snowing and the views were stunning!  IMG_7775A minke whale was playing around the ship and even breached! It was quite entertaining.

After dinner, Mike, our glaciologist, did a presentation about his time in Antarctica working at one of the Australian research stations.  We decided after his talk that spending a winter in Antarctica takes a special type of person!  We don’t qualify!

What an exhilarating today!  We slept very well.

 

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 18

Epic Antarctica Adventure- Day 18

Friday, February 9th

Whales, Portal Point, and Hydrurga Rocks

We were awakened by Ali, our expedition team leader, at 5:30 AM because we were surrounded by at least 25 humpback whales!  It was incredible!

IMG_1354
Every direction around our ship, we saw humpback whales!
IMG_1355
We could hear them because it was very quiet on the decks.
IMG_1360
Beautiful humpback whales.
IMG_1376
The whales are huge!
IMG_1427
One of the pods of whales that we observed.
IMG_1403
Humpback whales and this spectacular backdrop!
IMG_1372
They were feeding on krill.

 

IMG_1379
We saw many tales!

Watch these videos and have your volume on and you can hear the humpback whales!

The weather cooperated and we were able to kayak this morning around Portal Point which was our first Antarctic continental landing!

P1000953
A beautiful morning for kayaking!
P1000959
Gorgeous landscape!
P1000978
Todd, one of our kayak guides, is giving us information about this crabeater seal.
P1000974
A crabeater seal relaxing on the iceberg.
P1000987
We kayaked through the brash ice!

When we were finished kayaking this morning, we boarded a zodiac and walked around the continent of Antarctica.

IMG_1953
Our first continental landing on Antarctica.
IMG_1946
We saw our first Weddell seals.
IMG_1944
“I’m too tired to worry about you!”
IMG_1947
This beautiful lake on Antarctica.

The pictures below are unedited and no filters.  In fact, every picture in our blog have had no editing at all.  Antarctica’s landscape is just amazing!

After lunch we arrived at Hydrurga Rocks and we did a second kayak trip.  We paddled all around the rocks and we also got to zodiac to the rocks and explore the chinstrap penguins! Our underwater camera did a decent job giving you our view from the water.

The pictures below were taking when we were exploring on the rocks and watching the chinstrap penguin colony, shag colony, fur seals, and weddell seals!

IMG_1720
Shag Colony
IMG_1729
Chinstrap Colony
IMG_1730
Notice all the guano. And boy did it smell!

IMG_1729IMG_1687IMG_1689IMG_1691

IMG_1692
Chinstrap chicks covered with a lot of guano.
IMG_1698
This chick almost has all of his adult feathers.

IMG_1746

img_1718.jpg
Sleeping the day away!
IMG_1748
“Ready to strike up the band!”

IMG_1738IMG_1745IMG_1750

There is nothing like O-H-I-O with two other passengers from Ohio!img_2001.jpg

British beer tasting on the back deck!

IMG_1996
Fun for all!

Beautiful evening out on deck.  (It’s about 10:00 PM when we took these pictures.)

 

Day 15, 16, and 17 February 6th, 7th, and 8th

Days 15, 16, and 17

February 6th, 7th, and 8th

3 Days at Sea

We left South Georgia and are sailing toward Antarctica.  The seas weren’t calm and the waves were crashing against the ship.  We were “rocking and rolling”!  On Tuesday, February 6th we attended educational presentations.  Jimmy, a marine biologist, did a talk about the whales that can be found in the Southern ocean.  He informed us that we would be seeing more whales as we visit the Antarctic peninsula area! 

IMG_1047
There were a few other people watching Jimmy’s presentation besides me! Many watched it from their tv in their cabin.

D.J., our geologist,  gave his presentation on “Caps, Bergs, and Bits”. 

IMG_0286
By the time that D.J. gave his presentation, the room was pretty empty. Even more were watching from their cabins.

Later in the day, Nicky, our ship photographer, did an informative session on photography techniques.  The last presentation of the day was by Burty, our historian, on “Missing Continent: The Discovery of Antarctica”.  We really appreciated all the education the expedition team offered during our trip.

Before dinner we had our daily recap and briefing. 

IMG_7055
The room is always packed for our recap and briefing!

Over night and into tomorrow we’ll be experiencing strong winds and swells!  So, hold on tight.  The rule of thumb is to always have one hand on the ship.  It’s definitely necessary from our experience earlier in the trip!

Wednesday, February 7th was our second day at sea.  It’s very windy and the outside decks are closed due to the high swells!  The wind was blowing 70 mph and gusts were up to 115 mph!  (No wonder we had trouble staying in our bed!)  By late afternoon, the wind had died down and the decks were opened again.

After breakfast, Miko, a marine biologist, presented “The Land of the True Seals- Seals of Antarctica”.  He explained all about the various seals in Antarctica.  Later in the morning, Mike, our Glaciologist, gave his presentation “Ice Sheets- The icing on the Cake”. 

We had a second Bio-security procedure to prepare for our excursion activities in the Antarctic Peninsula.  Our outer layers and backpacks needed to be checked to make sure they were clean.  If not the expedition team would vacuum any debris so we don’t carry any foreign substance on land.  They are very protective of keeping any invasive species of any sort getting added.  We all need to be ambassadors to help protect Antarctica.  Ali, our expedition leader, announced that we needed to put on our parkas and go out on the decks to see a large tubular iceberg that was over 2 miles long!

Sam, our ornithologist, did a presentation about the penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula, “The Brush-tails- Penguins of the Antarctic Peninsula”.IMG_2453

On Day 17, Thursday, February 8th, we got up at 2:50 AM to get dressed and go out on deck to see B15T.  George2

IMG_1871
B15T is in the distance! Can you see it? LOL!

This iceberg is 32 miles long and 8 miles wide!  All we could see in the dark was its shadow in the distance!

This morning we had a ship cruise at Pt. Wild on Elephant Island.  Earnest Shackleton and his crew landed on Elephant Island, 497 days after leaving South Georgia!  Their ship, the Endurance, had sunk after being crushed by the ice.  They used their lifeboats to try to sail and Elephant Island is where they ended up.  Some of his men stayed when he sailed.  He eventually rescued the 22 men that stayed at Pt. Wild.  It’s amazing that none of the men died.

IMG_1224
Pt. Wild, Elephant Island
IMG_1231 copy
Memorial to Earnest Shackleton and his crew!

We were still out on deck watching for whales.  We saw fin whales!  We were all excited!

Borsha4
Another passenger got this great photo of the fin whale.

Sam, our ornithologist, did a presentation on krill and the Antarctic ecosystems, predators, and climate change.  It was interrupted by Orca sightings.  We all went out on the decks.  He finished his presentation later!

IMG_1293
Orcas!
IMG_1297
They’re getting closer!
IMG_1298
Our best picture of one of the orcas!

We are seeing a lot of icebergs as we approach the Antarctic Peninsula!

This afternoon we spent some time on the bridge and we saw some fin whales again.  Mike, the glaciologist, spoke about “Ice Shelves- The Plug in the Bathtub” and D.J. talked about “Weather Climate and the Antarctic Peninsula”.  He gave a lot of suggestions for ways to become active in preventing the negative changes happening in Antarctica. 

Every afternoon the ship’s food staff set out a table that was full of sweets and sandwiches for “Afternoon Tea”!  It was quite elaborate.  Having to eat gluten free, the staff always took care of me and had a separate plate that was covered in wrap and clearly marked gluten free.

We are looking forward to tomorrow when we will be exploring off the ship!

Day 13 February 4th

Day 13     February 4th

Hercules Bay, Grytviken, St. Andrew’s Bay, Godthul

We were up by 4:45 AM to begin a busy day!  We were able to zodiac cruise Hercules Bay which we couldn’t do yesterday because of the wind. IMG_0816

IMG_0806
One view of Hercules Bay

This is where the colony of Macaroni penguins could be found!  The Macaroni penguins were swimming all around the bay and many were up the mountainside.  This was another penguin species to see in their natural habitat! 

Hercules Bay is also home for some fur seals, elephant seals and a few King Penguins. 

Our next stop was Grytviken.  It is located in the King Edward Cove on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay.  It was used as a whaling station for over 60 years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We did a historical tour of the area that explained how the whaling factory worked and then a tour explaining Shackleton’s connection to Grytviken.  He died here and his grave is in the cemetery.  We did an Irish whiskey toast to him at his gravesite and it was raining!

img_1606.jpg
David, our historian, led the toast to Shakleton.

Of course there were also seals and penguins!

We saw our first icebergs on our way to Grytviken and again on our way to St. Andrew’s Bay.  The glaciers and mountains were unbelievably beautiful.

As we approached St. Andrew’s Bay the winds were as strong as a hurricane so we couldn’t go ashore.  We will try again tomorrow morning.  So instead of going to St. Andrew’s Bay we went to Godthul.  We were suppose to kayak here but it was too windy.  The zodiacs took us to the beach at Godthul and it was filled with gentoo penguins, fur seals, some elephant seals and a few king penguins.

The gentoo colony was up the hill so we climbed through the tussock grass.

There was also a lake at the top of the hill!IMG_0902

We found that climbing down the hill was more difficult than going up because we had to contend with these wind bursts that were crazy strong!  We were told at the recap for the day that we had wind gusts of 60 knots which is about 69 MPH!  It was definitely a day to hold onto your hat!

Day 12 February 3rd

Day 12  February 3rd

At our 4:15 AM wake up call, Ali, our expedition leader, announced we wouldn’t be going to Prion Island.  The wind was too strong and the zodiacs would be in danger.  We were to kayak at our 2nd stop of the day and that wasn’t going to happen either. 🙁

On to plan B which was to move on to visit one of the former whaling stations at Stromness Harbour.  Again the winds were gusting and we weren’t going to be able to land so the captain took the ship close to Leith Harbour and we were hoping the winds might die down over by Stromness.

IMG_0587
Strong winds but beautiful scenery!

“Over at Leith Harbour, the Captain maneuvered the ship as close as possible to give us a view of the old whaling station. With the sun out and blue skies it was an eerie but beautiful scene. This was the largest whaling station in South Georgia, operating for over 60 years. Established by the Christian Salvesen Company, it was given the name Leith after the Scottish hometown harbor of Salvesen.” (from our Voyage Journal)

After a ship cruise at Leith, we headed back around the corner to Stromness.

We were hoping to be able to finally step foot on South Georgia. The wind was still gusting but had settled enough for the expedition team to send out a scout boat.

The expedition team quickly readied themselves. Conditions were suitable so off to shore we went!  After three days being on the boat we were SO excited to have some time off of the boat on land, even if it was windy!

The sun stayed out but winds continued to blow. Katabatic gusts (wind caused by downward motion of cool air usually coming down the slopes of a mountain or glacier) would occasionally force everyone to stand their ground. All around us were young fur seal pups. We walked around them, still trying to give them as much space as possible or be growled at.

We enjoyed watching the seals rest and play.  And we also enjoyed the King penguins that were around.IMG_0667

Stromness also had the remnants of a whaling station.

After visiting Stromness, it was time for lunch.  While at lunch, the ship headed to our next stop which was called Hercules Bay.  At this bay we are to see Macaroni penguins.  We pulled into the bay but the weather wasn’t on our side.  The wind was too strong for the zodiacs.  Needless to say we were disappointed.  As we left the bay and out in open water, we saw quite a few macaroni penguins swimming in the water and passed a glacier.IMG_0766

Just after we had taken off all of our waterproof gear, an announcement was made that we were heading back to our first stop, Prion Island, that we couldn’t visit early this morning because of the wind!

Prion Island was beautiful.  We climbed to see the Wandering albatross nests and birds.

IMG_1432
A boardwalk was built to protect the erosion of the gully and the prion burrows.

Only 50 of us could be on the island at a time!  The nests were at the end of the boardwalk.

We also saw many fur seals all around us. Quite a few were tucked into the tussock grass!

IMG_1429
Fur seals can be found all through the tussuck grass!

The beach where we got off the zodiac was filled with King and Magellanic penguins as well as fur seals.  It was something to experience.IMG_0804.JPG

After our time was up for visiting Prion Island, we boarded our zodiac and we had a zodiac cruise around the island.