Sunday 6 January 2013

Plan B

Another storm forced us into plan B for today. Astrolabe Island was inaccessible. Wind of around 20 m/sec built up too much swell for a landing. And since we could not expect a change during the day our second planned landing close by would have been a play with high risk. And that is something you certainly should not do around here in the Antarctic. The second planned landing would have been at Whaler's Bay inside Deception Island. The entrance to the caldera is a narrow bit of water called Neptune's Bellows. Even if one would make it to the inside of the volcano it could end with being trapped in there for days, depending on how the storm develops. And that was definitely not even our plan X. So we decided for plan B, which was going further South, heading for Wilhelmina Bay. A place known for its calm waters, surrounded and thus sheltered by high and steep mountains and glaciers. And Wilhelmina Bay is also known for its wildlife.

While moving South, away from the storm, we used the time for further lectures and an introduction to Port Lockroy / the British Base A and the British Antarctic Heritage Trust, presented by three fellow travellers of the trust that we take to Port Lockroy.

Later in the afternoon when we entered into Wilhelmina Bay the water was calm as expected. Just from time to time there were catabatic winds running down the glaciers, creating small scale waves but no swell. That was our chance to do polar circle boat cruising in the bay. Several times we saw some Minke Whales around Fram and the boats and in-between all the icebergs in the bay. And there was also a leopard seal resting on an ice flow. It was not bothered by our repeated visits with the small boats. In contrast, for quite a while it was singing its somehow giggling, whistling and screaming song. We also passed by the high glacier fronts with numerous intense blue holes and crevasses and even big caves.

Finally, during the early evening hours the sky cleared and changed more and more into blue. So the low sun let the icebergs and snowy and icy slopes aglow.