Updated: May 21
At 6:30 AM, Shane came on the PA system to let us know that we were officially sailing through the Lemaire Channel! Unfortunately, it was quite foggy so we really couldn’t see much. Regardless, we made it out of the infamous Drake Passage into the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula!
We grabbed a quick bite to eat while the ship anchored outside Port Charcot for our first zodiac voyage and attempt to land on Booth Island, one of the islands part of the peninsula. Port Charcot was discovered by an explorer named Jean-Baptiste Charcot when his crew spent the winter of 1904 on the island when their ship wandered astray onto shore. The sailors actually slept on the boat in the winter, but also maintained a station on shore for science experiments.
Getting onto and off the zodiac proved to be a challenge in the turbulent waters, but I made it on for our first cruise off the boat. We passed some icebergs and saw a few penguins before it started hailing and the weather got more windy. The area was dubbed an “Iceberg Graveyard”!
I was able to snap my first picture of a penguin - it was difficult to get one to come out because of all the snow!
When the zodiac made it to the shore for the landing, I took one look at it and knew I wasn’t going to even try to get off. The landing site was on the side of a large boulder which appeared to be quite slippery, so my Dad and I decided to stay on the boat and head back to the warmth of the Ocean Diamond!
On the way back, we learned that this is the third to last sailing that Quark has on our boat, the Ocean Diamond. It is being retired at the end of the Antarctic summer and will be sold to a company that will likely use it for private expeditions like research, etc. Before I left the US for Antarctica, I learned that one of my friends had also sailed to Antarctica on the same boat.
When my Dad and I returned to the cabin, we were soaked head to toe. We both made some large mistakes that we won’t make again – we didn’t zip our coats all the way up and, worst of all, wore ski pants which apparently are not waterproof. We had both assumed that ski pants would be effective at keeping the water out, but that was not the case. It’s a good thing the boat has a shop on board to buy some extra gear! When it opened, I grabbed a waterproof pants and a drybag for future excursions.
We grabbed lunch once the rest of the group returned to the ship while the captain pulled up the anchor and set course for the Argentine Islands, specifically Petermann Island. The islands were also discovered by Jean-Baptiste Charcot and he named them after Argentina as a gift to their government – they had been very supportive of his explorations, even though he was representing a French Expedition.
Unfortunately, conditions were even more turbulent than the earlier landing and we could not get off the boat. When we pulled anchor to start going to our next stop, we watched one more episode of Frozen Planet (this one took part in Antarctica) before our “Daily Briefing & Recap” and dinner.