Friday, 20 February 2015

Down the Gullet and why not?

Our morning was spent exploring the ice conditions in the area known as the Gullet. If this narrow passage is passable it would allow the FRAM to motor northward along the east side of Anvers Island. However if ice is blocking the channel the FRAM will have to reverse its heading and proceed south then west then north around the western- outside coast of Adelaide Island. The first route is not only shorter, but saves diesel fuel and provided spectacular scenery. 
The weather conditions were not cooperative. At breakfast time the FRAM were headed north into the Gulllet. We were facing strong winds, ground fog and a nearly solid barrier of floating seaice with bergy-bits. The radar showed the ice conditions to the north to be the same. The captain took all these factors into account and at about 9:20am he reached the decision to turn the FRAM’s heading from northward to southward. This means we will have to follow “Plan B” and go around the southern end of Adelaide Island, then pass along the western side of the Island on our northbound transit.    
And why not land? On our southbound transit we pass by Pourquoi Pas Island and ‘why not’ as the name of the island translates from the French - land there. We did land there in a small bay that was well protected from the swells. On shore a significant number of male fur seals were lounging about. Pourquoi Pas Island provided us with different type of landing spot and a close up of the fur seals.
In the late afternoon we had a “swell landing” at Jenny Island. From offshore we spied several Elephant Seals lounging on the rocks and as we had not seen this species of seals before we decided to do a short landing at Jenny Island. The landing beach has significant swells and the surging Polarcirkle boats needed four or more Expedition Staff to steady the boats as we landed. There was a steep climb up the cobble beach face to a relatively level stretch were we could walk and then photograph the Elephant Seals. During our landing adventures the seals did nothing but lounge around and barely opened an eye or two.
Now to round the southern margin of Adelaide Island and head northward.