Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Antarctic Circle - 66.33º

Wind and ice are powerful reminders of just exactly who is in charge in Antarctica. You’re expecting me to say Mother Nature. Nope. In this case it is definitely Father Neptune.

The decks were filled with a sea of blue jackets. We all eagerly waited for the ship’s horn to proclaim the very moment we were crossing the Antarctic Circle. King Neptune himself was on the bow to baptize all of the first time circle crossers with ice water.
There was a loud cheer when the ship’s horn blew at 10:15:54. Soon there was a lineup of people eager to have ice cold water poured on their heads and down their necks. Tomas Marina, one of our onboard biologists, had the entire bucket dumped on him! Brrrrrrrrrrrr!
We arrived at Detaille Island for a landing at 14:00 but the winds were far too strong to launch the Polar Cirkle boats. We waited two hours for the wind to abate but it seemed that Neptune had other plans for us. Perhaps someone didn’t show up for their baptism?

Fram turned to the south and headed for the famed Gullet; a particularly beautiful and very narrow passage. Narrow passages, ships and ice often don’t go well together. As we slowly navigated through the Gullet we passed flocks of Snow Petrels and Kelp Gulls (is that why it is called the Gullet? :^) ) and many Crabeater seals on ice-floes when our progress came to a dead stop. The narrowest part of the passage was choked with ice. Darn it!! Who didn’t get baptized?