29/03/2015 On our fifth day in Antarctica, we explored Dorian Bay, navigated through the Neumayer Channel and had our first continental landing at Paradise Bay. It was a lovely sunny day in March with a lot of photos taken, actually forcing me to split it in two live updates. The first one will bring more penguins and seals, great Antarctic Landscapes and the British station of Port Lockroy, which was unfortunately closing down two weeks before our arrival. A shame, because one of my friends from London was actually working there to sell postcards. 🙂
I woke up at 8AM to get out on deck, observing the morning colours come up on the snow covered peaks around us. The captain navigated us to Dorian Bay and the day promised to be a bit less cloudy than the one before. Before we would leave the ship, it was time for breakfast again. My daily menu consisted of warm fresh waffles, croissants, eggs, bacon, toast, ham, cheese, butter, dulce de leche and a lot of different sorts of fruits. I actually uploaded a picture of that set as well, just because it was so damn good and it brings back memories 🙂 After everyone was filled up, we gathered at the Zodiac entry point of our ship and were brought to Wienke Island. The weather now was actually excellent, most of the clouds disappared and the sun was blazing down; I was in awe to see all the snow and ice around us in perfect white.
Everyone was really happy to witness Antarctica in these conditions while we were getting close to the wild-life packed Island. Despite the usual gentoo penguins and leopard seals, we also saw a Giant Petrels posing on Damoy Point. Those guys were pretty big and very busy eating dead penguins. After nearly an hour of observing the still alive penguins doing their usual business of slipping and sliding through the ice, I went up to the second point of interest: The top slope of Wienke Island, offering a great view on our landing point and the M/V Ushuaia sitting behind on one side and Port Lockroy on the other. The clouds actually came up again now, but it was still great to look down to the british station that usually sells postcards during the tourist season. We were just two weeks late sadly and I was not able to visit one of my climbing buddies from London, who worked there for the last months. The setting of Port Lockroy is impressive: A few small huts situated on some tiny islands in front of a big peak and sourrounded by antarctic waters. The small slope on which we were standing was actually used as an runway for airplanes in the past. Heading back to the Zodiacs, we waved the penguins good bye and watched a leopard seal actually killing one of them in the water on the ride back to the ship.
Next up on our agenda was Neko Harbour. In order to get there, we had the pleasure of navigating through the Neumayer Channel. The sun was back out again and with lot’s of ice in the water, the passage through the channel was nothing short of breath taking. Everyone was standing outside to observe the landscape while the water produced perfect mirror images of the peaks around us. We had a clear blue sky now and the further we got into the channel, the more ice was sourrounding us. The M/V Ushuaia had no problem breaking through it for now, leaving us astonished about the crushing sounds as it broke through the ice plates, some of which were actually occupied by a few seals staring back at us. A few days later in cold conidtions here would have caused us some problems, according to the captain.
Aiming for Neko Harbour after the 25Km long Neumayer channel, we eventually turned into a large concentrated amount of sea ice, blocking our entrance. It was now 15:30 and our first continental landing would have to wait a little bit longer as we were looking for another entry point.
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