Saturday 20 February 2010

The Lemaire Channel

Just before 7:00 we entered the Lemaire Channel.  It was very cold this morning but it seemed everyone, camera in hand, was out on deck.  Not for nothing is it sometimes referred to as Kodak Alley.  While it was very chilly, it was a gorgeous morning as you can see in the photo of the mountain peaks.  We saw numerous Crabeater and Leopard seals and several Minke whales.
At 9:00 we arrived at the Ukrainian Base Vernadsky.  The guided tour of the base was very interesting.  Many people stopped at the famous bar upstairs for a shot of Vodka.  We then went for a twenty minute Polar Cirkle boat cruise before heading back to the ship.
In the afternoon we landed at Petermann Island.  Most of the Adelie penguins and the Blue-eyed shags have left the island.  There were however lots of Gentoos wandering around.  At this time of year the chicks seem to be everywhere.
The view over Iceberg alley was really great.
In the evening the Captain arranged a big surprise for the entire ship: even though we had cruised the Lemaire Channel with the ship in the morning and would do it again in the evening, some of us would get the opportunity to see it from our Polar Cirkle boats before dinner!  There wasn't enough time for everyone to go so a lottery was held for those willing to pay 100 Euro for the privilege of cruising in the Lemaire Channel in our Polar Cirkle boats.  In the end a lucky 45 people went!  It was a beautiful evening.  There were still lots of Crabeater and Leopard Seals on ice floes.  We even spotted several Minke whales.
A nice way to end a VERY full day.