Wednesday 5 January 2011

Cuverville Island and Port Lockroy

Today it was pure luck again-even though it was overcast most of the day, we were extremely lucky not to have any wind. We do not mind rain, snow or low temperatures- but when it is very windy, there is no chance to go ashore. But not so today! The clouds made a dramatic background, the Gentoo penguins at Cuverville Island were still sitting on their eggs. We did not see any chicks here this time, which seems a bit late for the season.

After Cuverville we went back into the Gerlache Strait towards the Neumeyer Channel for Port Lockroy. At least that was the plan! But suddenly the biologists went crazy! And once the announcement came, everyone on board was just racing to the decks: ORCAS! I mean- not one or two or three- but it seemed that the entire Gerlache Strait was filled with them! Our Safety officer Andreas Johansen did a fantastic job in bringing us into the right position. There was quite a drama happening in front of our eyes as the orcas were chasing penguins… You saw the little birds trying to escape - but against the tactics of the orcas they were nearly all sooner or later disappearing… It was an extraordinary sight, that is for sure…
The late afternoon we spent at Port Lockroy. Since its restoration in 1996 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT), the former base became a museum. Much is like it was in the 1950s- and especially the post office and the museum shop were quite populated during our visit. We anchored overnight and enjoyed a great visit from the base staff that joined us for dinner. In finally- for the first time really during this trip- the clouds lifted and the mountain tops appeared in the evening light.