Wednesday 18 January 2012

Pory Lockroy & Paradise bay

What a dramatic weather change within 8 hours! Yesterday evening leaving the Lemaire Channel we enjoyed sunshine. This morning at Port Lockroy we were confronted with snow, temperature around 0°C, a storm with Beaufort 9 to 10, real Antarctic conditions and no chance for a landing. But the captain put the ship further into the bay into sheltered waters, the wind calmed down and we could land within a short delay. It was a new experience for our passengers to be on land under these conditions and most of them went directly into the Museum of Port Lockroy for shopping but also for looking how research was done 60 years ago.
The Gentoo Penguins breeding around the station had well grown chicks much bigger than what we saw on Cuverville Island. At noon the snowfall stopped and we set sail for Paradise Bay. The wind calmed down more and we had a comfortable passing through the Neumeyer Channel and a calm crossing of the Gerlache Strait. We arrived at 15.00 in the Paradise Bay and started landing at 15.30. Obviously the glaciers coming down into the bay had calved considerably and did so during our stay. A broad field of brash ice and small icebergs were laying between the Fram and the landing site, but our experienced drivers with the solid Polar Circle Boats succeeded in bringing us ashore. In the course of our landing the currents moved a big part of this ice away so things became easier. Most of the Passengers climbed up the hill and sled down on their back. Some just enjoyed the scenery and observed the small Gentoo colonies. It was a mix of sun, rain and snow the whole time. At the end nevertheless the sun came through and showed us for a few moments why this bay was named Paradise Harbour by the old whalers.
Around 19.00 we left this wonderful place to go north for Hope Bay.