Sunday 15 December 2013

Lemaire Channel and Vernadsky Station

In true explorer fashion, this morning we did not know if we were going to be able to traverse the scenic Lemaire channel, as it seemed to be clogged with ice. Early in the morning, peacefully cruising in a beautiful haze, we inched our way into the channel and crossed it by avoiding the biggest ice chunks and breaking the new sea ice, which is something very exciting indeed – and just what you imagine a journey to Antarctica should be.
After sailing the whole length of the channel, we continued further south to the Argentine islands, which was also a very exciting journey as the whole sea was covered with fresh sea ice which Fram slowly tore apart to advance. In these islands, we visited the Ukranian research station Vernadsky, where the very friendly crew welcomed us and showed us around their working and everyday life quarters.

During our stay in Vernadsky, the weather changed dramatically, from darkly overcast to incredibly sunny, so we enjoyed the fabulous landscape of the mountainous Antarctic Peninsula stretching southwards as far as the eye could see; and also the beautiful icebergs slowly parading past it.

Our northbound journey across the Lemaire channel – which almost seemed a different place from this morning’s!- and through the Gerlache Strait and Wilhelmina Bay was simply spectacular: the sunny weather continued and the whole sea was covered with bits and pieces of ice of all shapes and sizes…