Today was our last day in Antarctica. We were meant to be here for only two days, but because of the fog at Elephant Island, we have been able to fit in an extra day.
Our day started at 6.00 am with a wake-up cal as we entered the Lemaire Channel. This is a narrow waterway that stretches for about six nautical miles between the continental mainland and Booth Island. It is incredibly scenic with high mountains on either side and ice covered valleys. To top this off, the sun was rising as we travelled and we were blessed with golden sunlight appearing on the mountains. It was quite cold (-1C) and the outside decks were very icy. I stayed on the top deck for a while, but the foreword mast got in the way of my photos, so I ended up moving down onto the deck at the bow of the ship. Our trip was lengthened somewhat as the channel had collected a reasonable amount of ice and we slowed as we crunched through it. Having extra time in this channel was quite a bonus.
Back, inside, breakfast and then we were out again at 10.00 for a zodiac cruise around Pleneau Island where dozens of large icebergs are blown in from the Weddell Sea and come here to die. They were all different shapes and sizes. One had a large arch that must have been 30 metres high. Another one looked like a dairy frost ice cream with a spiral of gentle rounded curves. Other looked like dragons and every other imaginable shape that you can think of. there were no accidents with Zodiacs today, thankfully. At omen time, we diode get the attention of a leopard seal which bobbed its head out of the water, full of curiosity. The zodiacs drivers had their paddles readyto beat it off if it started t0 bite into the boat.
We were back on the ship for lunch and enjoyed the sight of six or seven minke whales swimming alongside the ship as we travelled to our next stopping point.
This was to be at Petermann Island and was our last stopping point in Antarctica on this trip. This is a 2 kilometre square island with both a Gentoo and Adelie penguin colony on it. Most of the chicks were fully grown and the adult birds were going through their annual moult. This made them look very bedraggled and sad and sorry. There is a small red hut and a cross which acts as a memorial to two early british explorers who died nearby. Another feature of the rocks on this island is that many are split vertically. They are of some form of fine grained igneous rock and when the water gets into the cavities, it freezes and splits the rock.
By 4.00 pm we were back on the ship and we will now head out tom sea for our return trip to Ushuaia. We are relatively far down the Peninsular and it will take a little over two days to get back across the rake Passage. I will be looking forward to our daily debrief tonight to learn what the weather might be like for this long slog back to South America.