Thursday 12 March 2015


All day today at sea. We are motoring northward in flat seas with occasional light fog. Today the Expedition Staff was occupied collecting and cleaning the boots and tents and other “outside” equipment that will not be used until June when the FRAM reaches Greenland, Iceland and Spitsbergen.

In between their cleaning chores the Expedition Staff found time to send a few lectures our way. Manuel told us about Albatross’ and other long-ranging sea birds. Ralf and Helga told us about their experiences working in the Arctic. Our Chinese passengers were briefed on the Antarctic Treaty by Bob. 

And in between the lectures the wildlife and biology Staff members plus Adele the Expedition photographer gathered by the lounge and helped us identify the many animals we had photographed.   

Tomorrow will be another day at sea on our way northward to Buenos Aires.

Wednesday 11 March 2015


West Point Island is spectacular and one must admit the weather was perfect. It was another warm sunny day and though the main colony we visited was a good hike away most of us walked over to the Devils Nose overlook. Here the lumpy topography and tall grass allowed us to get fairly close for great views and photos of the nesting in Black Browed Albatross’ and their neighbors the Rock-hopper Penguins. Always circling overhead or waiting on nearby rocks were two types of birds of prey, Caracara falcons and Turkey vultures.

Some of us caught rides back to the settlement house in the Land Rovers because we wanted to have ample time to sample the large and tasty cookies and cakes that had been made for us to enjoy. By noon we were back on-board and underway for Buenos Aires. We do not know how the weather will continue but we started this 3+ day journey in flat seas and sunny weather.

Our evening activities were highlighted as passed through a fleet of brightly lighted fishing boats. The lights attract the small crustaceans that squid feed on and the fishing boats lower lures and hooks to catch the squid which will be sold on the world market.

Tuesday 10 March 2015


Saunders Island presented a bit of a challenge as the swells and wind chop at the rocky ledges made for big steps getting in or out of the Polarcirkle boats. But certainly the landing was worth any minor difficulties as the sunshine and relatively warm temperatures made for a pleasant walk through a very large colony of Gentoo Penguins with big Caracara birds on patrol for easy pickings. On the nearby hillside there were Magellanic Penguins with their nesting burrows and several flocks of Upland Geese. We also visited a large colony of Rockhopper Penguins and adjacent were some Cormorants. On our way back to the landing site we passed the bones of a whale and we learned this animal had washed up on the beach, dead and the bones were then re-assembled by the islands residents for us to see.

Carcass Island continued our most pleasant day. We had the opportunity for a long walk around the bay to a colony of Gentoo Penguins. Farther on there was an overlook and we saw a penguin being devoured by a South American sea lion. While it was not nature in action there was a great deal of action around the large dining table in the settlement lodge as it covered with all kinds of tasty cakes and cookies and scones. There was tea or coffee to wash the goodies down and we returned to the ship for dinner is a ‘less than starving condition’.  

Several of us set up tents and camped overnight on the island. The winds decreased during the night and ground was soft. Best of all the evening was cloud free and we could see more stars than could be imagined. Most of the constellations our not familiar to those of us raised in the northern hemisphere but there was one constellation we could recognize and that was Orion. Yes his belt and knife were a bit upside dome from our home view but there he was. We were also quite sure we could identify the Southern Cross. Morning arrived and we quickly packed up the tents and sleeping bags and returned to the FRAM as we headed for our next and last island landing at Westpoint.   

Monday 9 March 2015


The FRAM encountered strong headwinds as we approached the far eastern Falkland Islands. Breakfast could have been a bit of a challenge but by now we are ‘old salts’ when it comes to food and rocking and rolling. As we approached the harbor at Stanley the swells died down and we approached the wharf. Here the Captain and bridge crew handled the ship with style and grace as even with a strong cross-wind they fitted the FRAM into the designated non-too-large dock space. By noon most of us were headed for town and fish and chips lunches. Many folks took land or air tours and some of us just walked the streets and toured museums and the monumental cathedral.

Throughout the day the sun continued to shine and the temperature was balmy compared the conditions we encountered on our days down south. While we were enjoying the good weather down here, good news came from the northern hemisphere. We learned the officers, crew and staff of the FRAM were honored by the Hurtigruten organization with the “Best Product Award.”   

By 8pm we were all back onboard the FRAM and the dock-lines were cast off and we headed for tomorrows visit to the offshore islands located east of the East Falkland’s.   

Sunday 8 March 2015


Through the night the winds and swells decreased and we awoke to calmer seas. This morning’s
breakfast time was well populated. Following breakfast we had several introductory lectures to life in the Falkland Islands, ancient life, that is fossils and the geology was presented as was the plant life and bird life.

Our afternoon was mainly occupied with information briefings concerning tomorrows planned activities. In addition to the newly introduced air flights there are farm tours and XXXX.

In the evening our very talented galley crew had an show in the lounge deck presenting their tricks. There were fruit roses and marzipan roses. In addition one of the Chinese guests carved a very nice Buddha sculpture out of a block of ice.

Saturday 7 March 2015


During the night and through today until late afternoon the FRAM had a bouncy ride as we had substantial winds and significant swells from the west as we headed northwesterly toward the Falkland Islands.

Stalwart passengers were up and about and eating and attended todays lecture series. Though Antarctic is behind us today we learned a bit more about the biology of the seals and whales we have seen plus the fossil plants and animals that have been recovered from Antarctic rocks. From an Antarctic Treaty lecture we learned that Antarctica is set aside for peaceful and scientific purposes and that all national claims to Antarctic territory are set aside or “on ice” as long as the Treaty is in force.

Tomorrow is another sea-day as we continue on our way to the F/M islands.

Friday 6 March 2015


Our day began shortly after 7am with gusty winds and a moderate swell at our landing site on the western side of Fortuna Bay. Once we scrambled ashore we had a walk along the beach through 100’s of playful juvenile Fur Seals and occasional King Penguins. Our walk took us to the immense King Penguin colony at the end of the bay. Here we were in the midst of 10’s of thousands of King Penguins. The birds were in all stages of life from eggs to downy brown chicks to molting juveniles getting their waterproof feathers to regal adults to molting adults.

The afternoon was split into several activities. About 60 of us went over to the eastern side of Fortuna Bay where we bypassed a large elephant seal on the way to our gathering spot to begin our climb to re-trace the Shackleton hike. This 6.5km or 4 mile hike replicates the last leg of the cross-South Georgia trek that Shackleton, Worsley and Crean accomplished after they landed their small boat the James Caird on the western side of South Georgia Island. The hike starts with a steep climb mostly over frost-fractured sharp shale then traverses a central hilly section before beginning the down-slope zip-zag trail down the long talus slope to the riverbed below. The hike reaches only about 300m or 900ft so elevation and oxygen are not the problem, it is the sharp and loose footing that requires caution. The snow has melted by this time, the late in the summer, and the shallow braided meandering riverbed is easily crossed and re-crossed until we reached the lounging fur seals near the rear of the ruins of the Stromness whaling station.

The other major activity was a series of Polarcirkle boat cruises from the FRAM that motored along just off the beaches in front of the ruins of the whaling stations at Leith, Husvik and Stromness. As the day ended the FRAM lifted the anchor and we headed for the Falkland Islands.