Archive for the ‘Cruises’ Category

The National Geographic Explorer

February 16th, 2010 at 8:17 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Lindblad Expeditions’ ship, the National Geographic Explorer, is our home for three weeks. It’s a pretty fabulous ship. Great facilities, nice lines, wonderful crew and staff, and quite comfortable. I thought I might share a few views of her that are not quite the usual ones you might see of a ship like this.

The flag of the National Geographic Explorer, at least while in Antarctic waters

The flag of the National Geographic Explorer, at least while in Antarctic waters

The National Geographic Explorer from below the bow and anchor down

The National Geographic Explorer from below the bow and anchor down

Nice views from the lounge aboard ship

Nice views from the lounge aboard ship

Sunset shadow of the National Geographic Explorer

Sunset shadow of the National Geographic Explorer

The sun has set on another day aboard the National Geographic Explorer

The sun has set on another day aboard the National Geographic Explorer

 

GPS Tracking – Marguerite Bay and Pourquoi Pas Island

February 16th, 2010 at 6:28 am (AST) by Jake Richter

My grand plans for lots of posts yesterday were upset by a dramatic lack of Internet access, so I have a bit of catching up to do still.

In any event, below is the GPS track starting around 9:40pm on Sunday, February 14th through yesterday evening.

 

We Make Landfall on the Antarctic Continent

February 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yesterday morning, we woke around 8am to find ourselves surrounded by ice bergs in the northern part of Marguerite Bay, just south of Adelaide island. We could make out brown bits of land in the distance in addition to ice bergs and figured landfall was not far off.

An iceberg in the fog

An iceberg in the fog

However, minutes later we were in the midst of very dense fog, which did not let up for hours. An attempt was made to find us a landing site with wildlife nonetheless, but it was not successful.

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

The fog made it difficult for the Zodiacs to scout a landing site

Radar shows where there are obstacles

Radar shows where there are obstacles

The captain of the National Geographic Explorer opted to move the ship to a new location to try again, and another scouting party was sent out. Finally word came back that we would be able to go for an afternoon landing at Red Rocks Ridge, where there was a large colony of Adélie penguins. However, because of the fog, there would be no Zodiac tours while others were on shore, and instead half the passengers would go ashore at 1:30pm for two hours, and then the other half would go at 3:30pm so that the 100 person on shore limit could be properly enforced but still allow all to spend ample time exploring.

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

The plan for the afternoon once a landing site was confirmed

Everyone on board had all been previously distributed into a total of six groups, and we are in Group 1. Groups 1, 2, and 3 were the first shift, and Groups 4, 5, and 6 the second.

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

A Zodiac leaves the National Geographic Explorer en route to Red Rocks Ridge

The ride was a bit cold, but we were thrilled to able to finally set foot on the Antarctic continent, and better yet, get a better understanding of how penguins lived on land.

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Bas and our friends Natalie and Bruce on the Zodiac to the landing site

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

Some of the expedition members who landed ahead of us - the black specks on the snow are penguins

We spent the next two hours observing the rules of conduct as well as hundreds of penguins, a fair number of Antarctic blue-eyed shags (in the cormorant family) as well as several territorial skuas.

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

The penguins ignore all the paparazzi photographers

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

Bas studies a juvenile Adelie penguin

I will post several separate blog posts after this one with photos of particular encounters at Red Rocks Ridge in order to split things up a bit, as there are a lot of pictures to share.

 

GPS Tracking – Crossing the Antarctic Circle Southward

February 14th, 2010 at 4:33 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Last night past midnight we crossed southward over the 66.33 degree south latitude line, but alas, we didn’t feel it. Spent much of the day in fog searching for a suitable landing site with penguin colonies. Found one mid-afternoon at Red Rocks Ridge – numerous groups of Adelie Penguins. Photos later.

For now, our GPS track from about 21:44 last night through the present. No idea where we’re going next except that it’s probably northwards along the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

The Largest Iceberg Yet

February 14th, 2010 at 12:15 am (AST) by Jake Richter

After a short for some hot tea, we spotted an iceberg in the distance. We kept heading for it, but it did not seem to get any bigger. Finally it did increase in size, and we discovered that it was massive, at least in comparison to the other two icebergs we had seen up close so far during the day.

Bas observes the largest iceberg we've seen so far

Bas observes the largest iceberg we've seen so far

Up close, the iceberg's rough side, a couple hundred feet tall, is daunting

Up close, the iceberg's rough side, a couple hundred feet tall, is daunting

A southern fulmar nearly collides with me - but note the striations in the iceberg in the background - those indicate successive snow falls

A southern fulmar nearly collides with me - but note the striations in the iceberg in the background - those indicate successive snow falls

The iceberg was massive above water, but you can see it reflect turquoise light below water too - it's even more massive under the water line

The iceberg was massive above water, but you can see it reflect turquoise light below water too - it's even more massive under the water line

The obligatory sunset shot, but of an iceberg (and it's not really sunset yet either)

The obligatory sunset shot, but of an iceberg (and it's not really sunset yet either)

 

Iceberg with Chinstrap Penguins

February 13th, 2010 at 11:40 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

As we approached the second iceberg of the day, we discovered it had a colony of chinstrap penguins on it. The boat’s motor intimidated them a bit and caused them to waddle further inland.

Our second iceberg turned out to have a group of chinstrap penguins on top of it - look for the tiny black specks

Our second iceberg turned out to have a group of chinstrap penguins on top of it - look for the tiny black specks

We saw some of the chinstrap penguins near the edge, and hoped they would jump - they didn't, alas

We saw some of the chinstrap penguins near the edge, and hoped they would jump - they didn't, alas

After we finished our circuit of the iceberg, we heard a sound like a gunshot and saw a large piece break off an fall into the water.

Part of the iceberg calved with a loud gunshot-like sound and fell into the water

Part of the iceberg calved with a loud gunshot-like sound and fell into the water