Antarctica · 14 Days · 23 Moments · November 2015

Kaye Stambaugh

Kaye's adventure in Antarctica

24 November 2015

Passport stamp! All 7 continents now visited!
And so concludes an excellent trip to Antartica. As we disembarked, we saw a ship that had hit an iceberg being repaired at the dock. Glad we didn't have that kind of negative excitement. Outstandingly beautiful scenery, adventures with penguins, meeting lots of interesting people, and learning a great deal about the White Continent .... equals a fabulous vacation!

23 November 2015

Fun and games, then a good night's rest through the Beagle Channel. Arriving now in Ushuaia Argentina.
Two days crossing the Drake Passage finally comes to an end as we prepare to enter the Beagle Channel. Even a mild crossing is a BITCH! While I never became ill, it was very difficult to stay upright, falling twice in the cabin and once in the bathroom. I'm feeling beat up! I wish I could have captured the rough seas in a photo but at its worse, one holds on with both hands, and feet anchored. Holding a camera is out of the question. In the lounge, the entertainment was watching people try to walk across the floor! Furniture and people were flying. I finally retreated to our cabin where my bed was the safest place from harm.

22 November 2015

Crossing the Drake, we listen to a lecture from a scientist who made a documentary for BBC using robot penguins.

21 November 2015

This afternoon the wind in howling and it's snowing. A storm is brewing behind us so a decision was made to cancel the afternoon expedition to Half Moon Bay -- where landing would be near impossible -- and to head quickly for the Drake Passage to try and stay ahead of the storm. On the last voyage, the MV Ushuaia was unable to avoid a bad storm on the return, making the crossing much longer, and the passengers sick. So this means land expeditions are complete and we will sail for the next 2 1/2 days.
Crossing Neptune's Bellows into Deception Island was a tricky bit of navigation. We couldn't even anchor in the volcanic caldera as it was 585' deep. Our shore landing allowed us to explore an old whaling station in Whalers Bay, established in 1911 and shut down in the 30's. The buildings were put out of commission by a volcanic eruption in 1970. A very stiff, cold wind and temps around -12c made hiking up to Neptune's Window all the harder. I was fighting snow blindness, fell and had a hard time getting back up. Hello freezing cold Antarctica! Several brave souls took an Arctic Plunge and then very quickly ran back out of the water! Seals, penguins and other sea birds dotted the landscape.
Deception Island

20 November 2015

This mornings expedition was to Port Lockroy, an outpost built by the British in 1944, and currently operated by a non-profit British conservation group. If was iffy was to whether we could make the landing as the weather was windy and snowing. A break in the weather allowed us to go ashore while staying relatively dry.

19 November 2015

This morning's landing was again on the Continent, at Neko Harbour. Last evening's presentation on photography caused me to focus more on penguin behavior that had been described. The penguin highways were very busy! Back at the ship, a barbecue on the deck was a huge hit.

18 November 2015

It's nearly summer here in Antartica which means long hours of sunlight. The sun sets around 10:30-11:00pm but twilight remains throughout the night so no stars are visible. A half moon is in tonight's sky and the sun will be back up by 3:30am. Sunburn is proving to be more of a problem for me than cold. After 3 spectacularly sunny days, our Expedition Guide said "this Antarctica is a lie"! After stating that it's rare to get one sunny day and that three consecutive days is rarer still, he assured us that clouds, rain and snow will return shortly.
Zodiac tour through Iceberg Alley.
Very early in the morning, we navigated the Lemaire Channel, which at its narrowest point is just one mile wide. Out on deck at 6am, the views on either side of the channel were fantastic. It reminded me of the river cruise in China and the carst topography.
Our first expedition of the day was to Booth Island. The climb today was arduous because of deep snow. We waded rather than hiked. We were peeling off layers and sweating with today's sun and exercise. Gentoo penguins and Orca whales were on hand to greet us at the Island.

17 November 2015

Today we reached the continent proper. Up to now, we've been in the islands. Landing at Portal Point, we had a 45 minute climb. Well worth it for the view. The last part of the afternoon expedition was motoring through the icebergs, which was what I most wanted to see. For the group in our Zodiac, the beauty and peace of the incredible bergs quieted everyone. We sailed in complete silence.
Two landings today. As we passed through the Gerlache Strait, our first stop was Hydrurga Rocks, named for leopard seals (Hydrurga leptronix). The wind kept the temps very cool. Although I covered my face as much as possible I came back with windburn but left behind a snow angel imprint!
Hydrurga Rocks

16 November 2015

Antarctica at last! After crossing the Drake Passage -- that certainly lived up to its reputation -- our first stop is Barrientos Island. Snowy, pristine and rife with curious penguins! I made no entries the last two days as that time was spent going around Cape Horn then crossing the Drake Passage. My seasick meds certainly helped but I did little more than hold on for dear life as the ship pitched and rolled. Randy lost his balance once or twice but fared well and ate heartily at every meal! I railed at the weather and prayed for calm seas!

13 November 2015

At the end of the Pan American Highway. The furthest most, or very end of travelable roads on this earth.
Arrived in Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. We are looking across the water at Chile.

12 November 2015

A 23-hour layover in Buenos Aires requires an overnight stay. Strolling the San Telmos neighborhood where we are staying.
Sights in San Telmos, Buenos Aires

10 November 2015

Packing and prep day in San Diego. Cold weather and waterproof clothing aren't a staple in my closet. Tried on my 'continent' layers and look and feel like the little kid in A Christmas Story! Passports and gear ready. Let's do this!