This will be our last day in Antarctica and we’ll start crossing the Drake passage tonight enroute to South Georgia to see the Emperor and Macaroni (Rock Hoppers for Ava) penguins.
We arrived on Saturday the 5th to Yankee Harbor and went ashore. Due to the amount of ice in the harbor we couldn’t get all the way in to the colony but we did see penguins, seals and birds on the outer shore. It was very interesting as there were a number of things in addition to the wildlife like whale bones, seal bones and others. This appears to be a place where a lot of things wash up on shore besides ice. The weather was marginal with gray skies, a little wind and some drizzle, but we were dressed for it, so not a problem. In the photos below, you’ll see one photo with orange bags. Those are survival huts in case the weather changes and we can’t get back to the ship. Anytime you’re doing a shore landing here, at least with Silversea, those bags will be at the site along with first aid, a rescue boat in the water standing by etc. The first thing the expedition team does is go scout the landing site, setup all the safety equipment and then come back and start bringing us ashore.
On to Danco Island 300 miles south at 65 degrees latitude! In 2020 when we landed on Danco, it was rocky shores, 65 degrees Fahrenheit which was a record with very little snow and the ship pulled right in to the harbor for a short ride to the landing site. This time it’s been colder and where there were rocky shores, it was almost 3 feet of snow still and this is the middle of summer and it was almost a mile by zodiac to get to the same place. This is one of my favorite places here with a large active colony of Gentoo penguins who think they own the place. We had always been told about the penguin “highways” where they walk to and from the nesting area. In the rocky areas it was clear to see that path with no large rocks or obstacles but with the deep snow, you saw how they tramp down the snow and really do have highways to travel from the nest to the ocean to feed. We also had an incredible sunny day to enjoy the scenery. It was cool at 30 degrees and a little breezy but wonderful blue skies.
That brings us to today. We’re headed north to the Antarctica Sound which is named for a ship called Antarctica not the place. We were advised last night that we wouldn’t be able to land here today so kind of sightseeing around the sound looking at giant “tabular” icebergs that are several times the size of the ships and very flat on top. They come from a glacier in the Weddle Sea hundreds of miles south and are pushed by strong currents in to the Antarctica Sound where they continue floating north and melting. The other side of the entrance to the sound is where all these icebergs congregate before pushing through a narrow opening in to the sound. The only ships that can go through to the other side are the ice breakers and scientific ships built for that purpose. We saw some whales today and hundreds of penguins swimming by the ship. However, as forecast the weather is changing and we’re now in 10ft seas and growing and the win is 45 knots and increasing to over 50 so we’ve been advised to stay off any open deck areas. We were also planning to go by Elephant Island where Shackleton’s crew was stranded for 4 months and lived under a lifeboat with a diet of penguins and that has also been scrubbed for the day, so off through the Drake Passage enroute to South Georgia.