Antarctica - Friday - Orne Harbor Nov 25, 2011
The plan was to follow the Lemaire Channel and have landings on Peterman Island and zodiac-cruise Port Charcot, but the channel was blocked by a lot of ice. Even the larger "National Geographic Explorer" ship had turned back and our captain, despite the fact that our ship is ice certified, went as far as possible and then also turned around and took us into Orne Harbor where the spectacular brilliance of the sun made the glaciers and snow covered hills just glow. A short voyage after lunch took us into Dariaen Bay where "fast ice" clung to one shore. (Fast ice is the ice that coats the bay in the winter and clings to the shore). The captain aimed the bow toward the ice and cut into this thick ice with about 40% of the ship's length. Thus grounded (or better described as "iced") we did not need landing craft to go ashore. Dinner that evening was a Bar-B-Q on the aft deck followed by passengers gleefully running across the ice, climbing the huge hawser rope that hung from the bow, and pretending to be pulling the ship into the ice.
Antarctica - Saturday - Port Lockroy & Danco Island Nov 26, 2011
Right after breakfast we were visited by two of the scientists at the British Antarctic Survey team who explained how their station was established and what they do in this remote location. Later we went ashore and explored the museum with artifacts from the scientific station that was originally established as the British 1944 WWII secret Operation Tabarin. There is a small gift shop where we mailed postcards to our grandsons and bought Christmas cards. The mail could take as long as 3 months to reach its destination.
In the afternoon we did a zodiac cruise with an experienced expedition staff member which more than made up for our previous experience. We came very close to icebergs with tunnels running through them and saw flocks of penguins swimming in the open water.