At Anchor in Curtiss Bay
Curtiss Bay, Orleans Strait, Zodiac Cruise.
Lat: 64° 02’ S, Long: 60° 46’ W
Wind: 2 Knt NE, Temp: 0° C (2 PM)
I have finally managed to get the bad cold that has been spreading like wildfire through the Homeward Bound group on the ship. I thought I might have avoided it in the past 13 days, but today I’m feeling really awful, so I’m going to keep today’s blog post really brief.
We spent all day from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on course work for Homeward Bound. Just before dinner we had an opportunity to get outside and into the zodiacs…for a tour of Curtiss Bay, where we have been anchored all day. Fog and snow flurries from this morning had passed, and the cloud ceiling lifted enough to reveal a pristine bay filled with icebergs, framed by mountains on three sides.
Time to go exploring! I keep wondering if and when I’ll get tired of seeing so many icebergs and snowy peaks, gorgeous bays and coves, and the wildlife here. I hope you are on the same page as I am…it never grows old or boring. Each iceberg has a different shape and story, each rookery of penguins takes on a certain personality, every seal acts a bit differently, and the overall sense of this amazing continent and the islands in the Antarctic Peninsula is ever-changing, depending on the day, the light, the landing spot. It is all unique and extraordinary. I’m mesmerized by what I’ve seen each day of this voyage.
This small gem of a bay was Greg’s special gift today. It’s secluded and peaceful and Fabian challenged us today to be as silent as possible on our zodiac tour…to think about where we were and the beauty of this place. To sit in the zodiac, traveling through such a surreal seascape was indeed magical…every sound magnified, and it was as if I could tune out the thrum of the boat’s motor and focus on the unique sounds of the natural world.
This video was taken just as we started to enter the bergy bits on the surface…our zodiac gently maneuvering among the ice bobbing and floating in the bay. The water was lapping up, around, and onto the icebergs in rhythmic waves, creating enough of a disturbance to cause a significant rising and falling pattern for some of the behemoths of ice. Huge icebergs, fragmented bits of ice broken and melted from larger icebergs, rolling and moving ice, and the sound of our zodiac plowing through the icy water…all part of today’s adventure.
Some icebergs looked like there was a scoop or two of ice cream on top.
Many had beautiful patterns or shades of blue.
It was really awesome to be at ocean level with the icebergs all rolling and moving in the water today, even though the surface of the bay was extremely calm. Watch this video carefully and you can see how the iceberg almost lifts up, ever so gently and then starts to drop again. It’s very subtle, so look at the bottom to see the movement.
The mountains looked like they were covered with folds of whipped cream spread on top. As we approached for a closer look, I was able to hear the groaning and creaking of the glacial ice, and was hoping we’d see some chunks calving (breaking) off and cascading into the sea, but no luck today.
One lonely crabeater seal was spotted on an iceberg…minding his own business and enjoying the view. The seal didn’t even lift its head to take a closer look at us. We slowed down for photos and left it alone, on its.
It looks so peaceful, doesn’t it?
Our hour and a half trip flew by and although we had to head back to our ship, the cool air on my face had felt so refreshing. We motored by a few last icebergs, like this one…with icicles hanging down, and tiny drops of water hitting the water below.
How about this amazing arch? Wind, water, and melting sculpt these incredible features.
As we pulled alongside the Ushuaia to get back on board, we saw some action! Some of the guys from our ship were wrangling with a rather large, clear bit of ice, trying to figure out how to lift it on board the ship. Everyone watched with great interest as this all played out. They had wound straps around it from several angles.
The crane that lifts the zodiacs off and on the ship was used to lift up this bergy bit and place it on the deck of the Ushuaia.
Straps were removed…
And the ice found a new home in the bar…after they had chipped it into smaller pieces. The clarity of this ice is beautiful.
We are moving south again, toward Anvers Island and Palmer Station. Hopefully ice conditions will improve with the changing wind and we will be able to land at Palmer over the weekend. Stay tuned!