While the crew on the Pelagic were battling their way across the Drake Passage and down the Antarctic Peninsula, the rest of the team: Sarah, Jane, and Kristy were making their way south in relative luxury from Panama, London, and New York respectively. It was quite the welcome in Ushuaia, as several of the expedition staff from Akademik Ioffe, the ship that would take the three of us south, were on the same flight. Dick, the ship’s wildlife guide, and his wife Denise, former Director of IAATO, as well as expedition team members Dana and David made us feel welcome to Antarctic society from the moment we arrived.
We boarded Ioffe, where Expedition Leader Aaron Lawton and his fantastic crew welcomed us as friends. Compared to the Pelagic, we had an pretty un-adventurous Drake crossing, and we spent the first few happy days up on the bridge enjoying "the greatest show on earth" with bird-watcher extraordinaire Dick: a mixed flock of southern giant petrels, pintado (Cape) petrels, Antarctic terns, black-browed albatross, great wandering albatross, and, on one spectacular afternoon, four light-mantle sooty albatross flying in formation around the ship for hours, often buzzing the bridge.
Team Lockroy joined various shipboard clubs and were really happy to discover that the passengers and expedition staff were just as enthusiastic about our upcoming season at Lockroy as we were, and spent breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in conversation about life on Goudier Island. We are so grateful for your warm welcome and for sharing the first part of our adventure. Our especial thanks to Colin for singing "Perfect Day" to us as we cruised among the icebergs in Ciera Cove, what a sweet, memorable afternoon.
We would also like to thank the One Ocean staff for making us feel so totally at home on Akademik Ioffe, and making the first part of our season such a treat: EL Aaron Lawton, rest-of-season EL Chad Gaetz, and of course Dick, Denise, David, Matt, Sarah, Drew, Sean, Rose, Talia, Dana, Joao, Cheryl, Shiho, Daisy, Michelle, Liz, Maria, Carolina, Sunni, Daphne, as well as the captain, officers and all the ship’s crew. We look forward to seeing you all again this season!
We were also fortunate enough to make landings with our passenger friends at Half Moon Island, Mikkelson Harbor, and Deception Island, where we visited the historic Base B at Whaler’s Bay, which like Port Lockroy was established by Operation Tabarin. Walking amongst the ghostly ruins of the buildings brought the history of the Antarctic Peninsula alive for us. Jane was the brave one at Whaler’s Bay and did the polar plunge, which Sarah and Kristy were quite happy to toast to afterwards with a bottle of Malbec in the warm and dry dining room.
While we were enjoying our time on Ioffe, we were also unsure whether or not we would actually make it to Port Lockroy as scheduled. Reports coming in from the Pelagic told us that the yacht was beset in ice a half mile from Goudier Island, and conditions were not looking to improve any time soon. Each day we woke up wondering if a return trip to Ushuaia was in store. And then, last on Wednesday, at around seven in the morning, we awoke to a stunning sight: Port Lockroy amidst the blowing snow, the bay still quite full of pack ice, but clear enough to land us and the passengers.
17 Nov 2013