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Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp, On board the M/V Plancius
March 3-14 2015 Trip Report

Escorted by: Cindi LaRaia

Page Ten

Day 10 – Thursday 12th March 2015
At Sea in the Drake Passage

GPS 08.00 Position: 060°43’S / 061°18’W
Weather: Wind: N 7. Sea State: Rough. Weather: Partly cloudy. Temperature: + 3°C

Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp, On board the M/V Plancius, March 3-14 2015 Trip Report - Page TenFor a nice change there was no wake‐up call from Expedition Leader Kelvin but breakfast was available from 8am onwards so we were able to have a more relaxed start to the day. The Drake Passage was still being kind at this point but wind and swell were due to increase during the course of the day. The weather was clear and sunny in the early part of the morning but it wasn’t set to last and indeed clouds began to build during breakfast.

Ali started off the day’s lecture program in the lounge with an interesting talk on the ‘Ice Maidens of Antarctica’, a look at the wives and girlfriends of significant Antarctic explorers as well as the women of polar history both past and present. The history of women in Antarctica is a short one with the first woman, Caroline Mikkelsen setting foot on the Antarctic continent in 1935. Up until the 1960’s women, particularly in Britain were being actively discouraged from going to Antarctica to travel or work. Things have certainly changed in recent years.

Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp, On board the M/V Plancius, March 3-14 2015 Trip Report - Page TenFollowing a short break with time for coffee we once again adjourned to the lounge as Peter gave an inspired and informative insight into just a few of the things that occurred during his time living at the British Antarctic Survey base, Rothera Station on Adelaide Island. Aided by photos of his time living on the ice he spoke about diving operations, table tennis games, working in the ‘deep field’ as well as digging a lot of snow. It was certainly an experience he will never forget and it seems he has been bitten by the ‘Polar Bug’ and hopes to keep returning to Antarctica.

After lunch the sun began to disappear behind a shroud of mist and those up on the bridge could see on the chart that we were approaching the Antarctic Convergence where the cold Antarctic waters meet the warmer waters to the north. This mixing of cold and warm often brings mist and we certainly had limited visibility for a few hours. Following a short siesta for many, Erin unraveled the mysteries of how whales have adapted to be able to dive so deep and not be affected. With the aid of some delicious props she demonstrated how pressures found at depth act on these impressive creatures and how their physiology has changed to allow them to stay submerged for so long. It was a fascinating insight to the lives of these animals at sea.

We had been warned that the weather conditions could start to get a little rougher during the day with wind and swell increasing but in fact the wind stayed at around 20 knots and with it being directly on our bow it was still relatively comfortable.

At 4:30 in the afternoon Andrew invited us to the lounge for his presentation on the geology of Antarctica. The continent is a remnant of the super continent of Gondwana and he was able to explain how this continent broke up and how it relocated to its present position. There is so much ice and snow in Antarctica, up to 4000 metres thick in places it is almost impossible to picture the land beneath so this presentation gave a fascinating insight into the rocks below the ice sheet.

At 6pm we were invited once again to the lounge for a pre‐dinner drink and an extended Re‐cap. With the Basecamp days and nights being so busy there hadn’t been many opportunities for the staff to share their knowledge and expertise so it was great to get together and hear more about some of the places we had visited and the animals we had seen. Andrew explained how Deception Island was formed and the forces involved in creating such a huge caldera and how we ended up being able to sail inside after one part of the crater rim collapsed 10,000 years ago.

Kelvin explained about the different types of Orca, Killer whales found in the different regions of Antarctica. It was a fascinating insight into the differences both in looks and other characteristics. With time running out Ali had to put her Krill talk on hold so that fellow passenger, Kevin could explain about his fundraising challenge which has brought him on this Antarctic voyage. He is raising money for the UK charity Help for Hero’s which supports injured military personnel. Part of his challenge involved kayaking through the icebergs in Port Charcot and opening the first bottle of Shackleton whisky on the mainland of Antarctica. If you would like to read more about this interesting challenge or donate to this worthwhile cause please visit the website bmycharity.com/kevinwright

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