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Vacation Day 11
Monday, February 2nd
Antarctica Day 2

Today's itinerary consisted of picking several scientists up from the US Palmer station on the south side of Anvers Island. When we went out to sea last night we went around the north end of Anvers Island. We then sailed down the length of the island and around the south side (the Bismarck Strait) to about the middle of the island.

There we picked up the scientists who came out to meet us in a zodiac boat. I was unable to get a picture of the station as the sun was in the wrong place in the morning and we could not even see it. So, I thought I will get the picture when we come back later to drop them off. Unfortunately these really early mornings caught up to me and I fell asleep for an hour or so and missed the drop off. The pickup took place around 7:30AM and the drop off was around 2:50PM. When you see what we saw in between you might be able to understand the reason for being tired. The first group of pictures below is the approach and pickup of the scientists from the unseen Palmer Station. One of the things you will notice is that the weather is quite different. Temperatures were around 2-3C.

AA2 Scenery 1
AA2 Scenery 2
AA2 Scenery 3
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Five of these seven people came on the ship.

After picking up the Palmer station people the ship continued along the Bismarck Strait and then turned south into the Lemaire Channel.

These next 4 pictures were taken after the ship left Palmer Station but before we got to the Lemaire Channel.

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AA-6 AA-7

According to Ice Pilot Captain Patrick Toomey, Lemaire Channel is the holly grail of travelling in Antarctica. If you want to get the most complete experience of this area, (short of actually going ashore, that is), then this is what you need to see and travel through. At its narrowest spot it is only half a mile (about a kilometre) wide with high rock walls rising vertically from the waters edge. Often it is choked with ice and is impassable.As you will see we were lucky. Here are some pictures of the passage of the Lemaire Channel southbound. Just in case you are wondering, we do need to come back going northbound later so you will get a chance to see how it looks from the other end. First southbound.

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Lm-2
Scenery, you will see lots more like this.
This glacier has a name but I do not remember what it is.
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LM-4
When some of the passengers saw this they wondered if the ship would go through.
They wondered even more as we got closer.
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Passengers on the bow with the narrowest part ahead.
Just about at the narrowest part.
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LM-8
This seal was asleep on this iceberg.
As you get closer the ice does not look so bad.
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Lots of people and lots of snowy mountains.
The other side of the ship from the left picture.
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LMS-12
There is a small avalanche underway right in the middle of the picture. It is so quiet here that we heard it before we saw it. It did not come down far enough to hit the water.
More snow, rocks, ship and people.
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LMS-14
As we came to the end of the narrowest part of the channel we could look to our right and see these large icebergs of in the distance. We did not go there.
The other side of the narrow channel where it opens wider.

After carefully passing through the channel we continued a bit further down passing Petermann Island. We stopped just past this island and turned back. The point where we turned back is the furthest south place we got to on this cruise. It was latitude 65 degrees 12.5 minutes south and longitude 64 degrees 08.8 minutes west. This spot is 77.5 nautical miles from the Antarctic Circle and 1,487.5 nautical miles from the South Pole.

Here are some pictures taken in this area.

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The Antarctic Dream again, this time at Peternann Island. If you look real hard you may be able to see people in red jackets (actually they are survival suits) on the shore, to the left of the ship. They were investigating another penguin rookery there.
Some more of the scenery in this area.
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A slightly closer view of the same area in the right picture above.
More and more of the scenery (and you are only seeing a small number of the pictures I took).
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A humpback whale
Going, going.....
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Gone!
More penguins. Most of the grayish colour on the rocks is where they are.

One interesting fact is that the MS Amsterdam is the largest cruise ship to cross the Antarctic Circle. Apparently a number of years ago a previous captain decided to give his passengers a treat and sail across the circle. At the speed this ship typically sails at, that would have taken at least another four hours at close to maximum speed just to get there and another four just to get back to where we are now. Apparently he was sternly reprimanded by his superiors at Holland America because he used too much fuel. Needless to say the ship has never done it again. The coordinates we got to were as far south as the current captain has ever been. It is neat to know that I am on the ship that holds that record even though I did not actually do it.

So we turned around here and headed back the way we came. Here are some pictures showing the southern entrance to Lemaire Channel and our northbound passage back through it.

LMC-N-1
Ok, which one is it, the right or the left?
More snow, ice and rock.
I liked this one so I included it here.
The channel. See how the ice has changed. By the way, it was the right side in the upper left picture.
It is a good thing that the seal on the iceberg was not hungry or that penguin in front would have been in big trouble.
More of the scenery as we came out of the north end of the channel.
People were busy having lunch during the northbound passage so things were not so crowded.
More scenery.
These penguins nest quite a ways up in the cliffs above this spot. You can see them starting their climb up. We saw them a long way up. I have some pictures but they would be too small to see here. Just about through. The left peaks here are named after the wife of a well known antarctic explorer. Apparently she was well endowed and these picked up here name for this reason. I think is was something like Emma's tits (that is their name not mine). I am just reporting the story.
We are leaving the Lemaire Channel behind. It is just left of centre.
Some mountains on the north side of Bismarck Strait.

At 1:40PM the ship completed the return trip through Lemaire Channel and then headed back the way we came to return the visiting scientists to Palmer Station. We were in that area between 2:45 and 2:56PM while I was asleep apparently. We made another "U" turn and headed back the way we had just come only this time we turned left into the Neumayer Channel. If this sounds familiar that is because we did this southbound yesterday. Today we are going northbound. They do not normally do this but the weather was so much better/different than yesterday that it gave us a much better view and it took us where we wanted to go anyway.

We entered the channel at approximately 4:00PM and exited it at approximately 6:00PM. Here are some pictures from that passage.

Part way along the channel.
It looks different in the sun and there is more ice than yesterday.
When you have someone experienced in type of thing there is usually a way to get through this sort of ice. There is usually a path than can be taken given enough care. They also have radar which I am sure is a big help. As we moved you can see how the look changes. There is a small ship just beyond and off the point to the right. It is not very big.
The small ship in the previous picture. The m/y ITASCA travelling southbound. It is a converted tugboat that you can charter for $40,000US a day. It is privately owned.
As you can see things finally have opened up and we are on our way north.
Another seal sunning him or her self. It is almost impossible to tell the sex of a seal from a distance we were told.
Scenery in the distance.
There is one very large iceberg out there.
And just to prove we had snow, here is some. I have another picture that shows even more but it is not available at present.

After exiting Neumayer Channel we returned to Gerlache Strait until 8:00PM and then into the Croker Channel northbound overnight heading for tomorrow's destination of Antarctic Sound.

Thus endith Antarctica day 2. Onto the third and final day in Antarctica.

Started Creation: February 11, 2009 on the MS Amsterdam on the way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Finished Creation: February 12, 2009 on the MS Amsterdam in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Maps added February 19, 2009 after returning home.

Last updated: February 26, 2009 10:30 AM
(Note: this is the last one that will be done before I return on Monday. The rest will come sometime after that.)