To Palmer Station and back
First Urban in Swedish followed by Bob the Blog
Uppe tidigt för besök på stationen som ägs av Amerika. 40 personer på sommaren, 10 på vintern. De flesta är forskare. Stationerna har god koll på vädret. Årets väder hittills är ovanligt kallt och mycket is. Kylan är ok men isen kan göra att vi inte kommer åt alla de ställen vi tänkt.
När vi tar upp ankare har vi is runt båten. 10 meter från båten ligger Krabbsälar och vilar på isflaken. Längre ut ser vi knölval. Mäktiga djur.
Idag ska vi försöka ta oss igenom Lemaire Kanalen. Dit har vi ungefär 20 nm. Vi gör bra fart med genua 2. När vi närmar oss ökar isen. Det hela slutar med att vi kommit halvvägs in i kanalen när STORA och små isbitar stänger vägen. Ett kryssnings fartyg närmar sig. Anropar fartyget om isläget. Svaret blir att de inte ska gå igenom på grund av isen. Ett försök har vi gjort.
De två kända bergstopparna som finns i kanalen har vi sett från rätt håll. I folkmun kallas de Una´s Tits. Una var sekreterare på Falklands öarna. De var oftast den sista kvinnan sjömännen såg innan de seglade ner till Antarktis.
Nu börjar återresan. Motorgång och upp till 15 sekundmeter i näsan. Massor av is att undvika. Vinden vrider lite så ut med 2:an. Det går bra tills en vindby på 25 meter kommer farande. Med en smäll går skotet av. Vädret är nu lätt snöfall och mycket vind så målet blir en trygg ankarplats som vi vet fungerar, Port Lockroy. 70 meter kätting för att ligga tryggt.
Kapten Lars försvinner plötsligt. Efter en stund kommer en nyduschad Lars ut. Motorgången ger varmvatten. Doften kapten sprider gör att fler tar tillfället att bli rena..
Ton Ton och Peter håller just nu på att ordna middag. Köttbullar med lingonsylt.
Kram till er alla.
08012012 to Palmer Station
After a slow start we head out in light snow to the American Base at Palmer Station. Our course takes us down the spectacular Neumayer Channel flanked by high mountain ranges and glaciers.
As we proceed down the channel the ice wind and snow intensify. The now horizontal blizzard turns those on deck into snow men and without glasses stings the eyes making it impossible to face into it.
Once again we fail to see the "Spectacular" scenery in the white out and our attentions are concentrated on avoiding the icebergs of all sizes. Every now and then our path is blocked by a field of crackling "bergie" bits as we've named them and have to edge our way through.
There's a large one to the left as we approach Palmer station and a small field in the bay where their landing dock is located. This has been blown to the end of the bay, to where the glacier that calved them terminates.
We drop anchor and after talk to Bob Farrell the Station Chief we run a shoreline to one of the bollards there. He meets us when we come ashore giving us a quick low-down on the station and with directions for a good walking route up the glacier, as well as inviting us to a Station tour the following morning.
As we start our walk the skies clear and it's a glorious sunny day. As we cross the rock rubble fields we reach Glacier and start our ascent. By now coats are coming off and by the time we take a pause for breath at two parked snowmobiles, fleeces have also been abandon and left there.
Some are walking bare chested, though I'm not sure how that's covered in the Antarctic Treaty rules but the only wildlife likely to be traumatised is a lone penguin we came across half way up!
The going was both long as well as steep and made more difficult by the layer of snow into which you sank. On the way up we could hear the explosive sounds of the glacier cracking and saw great chunks falling off into the sea adding to the already extensive field of ice floes and bergie bits.
The effort was well rewarded with fantastic views of the glacier fields and mountains from the top. On the way back through the station we passed some staff taking a beer on the balcony and are invited to join them. The beer needless to say went down singing hymns.
We had a quick look at some of the facilities which along with a large bar, pool table and darts, another room had an enormous screen and wall-full of DVD's as well as sumptuous armchairs in which to sit and watch them. There was also a well equipped gym for those of a more energetic bent.
Back to the yacht and the ice which had been contained at the head of the bay was now moving out with the change in wind direction and surrounded us as we lay across its path. The ice was moving very slowly and even though there were some large floes, they posed more of an annoyance than a danger as they rattled and scrapped their way past the hull.
A little note on Palmer Station which is the smallest of the three US permanent research Stations in Antarctica housing some 42 people when fully utilised. The work is mainly marine, terrestrial and atmospheric science.
09012012 Ice Bound
0900 and were met by Bob and given a very interesting tour of the Station. Compared to the quiet of our visit yesterday the place is a hive of activity with inflatables loaded with equipment and staff heading out, Containers being moved and Robert a diver and his colleagues already in the water doing welding repairs to the dock.
A quick trip via their shop and its time to say farewell. A cruise ship already sits of the bay but they won't be visiting the base this time due to their busy schedule
Back aboard we up anchor and set course for the Lamar Channel a narrow fjord again another must but we understand there are problems with ice blocking the exit.
We leave the base in sunshine negotiating our way through the ice floes serving a sun bathing platforms for lounging Crabeater seals. Entering the outer bay we join the tourist off "Sea Spirit" watching and following a couple of Humpback whales.
They finally disappear and we continue on our way to and down the LemaireC Channel. As we approach we encounter more and more ice and the weather deteriorates. The temperature has dropped to 3C and woollies whistle down from the valleys of the mountains soaring near vertically 2/3000 metres up from the sea below.
As the channel narrows we are finally confronted with a sea of packed ice and have to turn around. "Sea Spirit" who had followed us down takes one look and decides on the same action. Now we are battling the wind back to the nearest anchorage which is some thirty miles away back at Port Lockroy.
We're sailing close hauled under half rolled number 2 jib doing 9kts, when there is and almighty "Bang" and the brand new 16mm Sheet snaps, Urban had been in racing mode! So were back under engine barely making 4knots in 35knot headwinds being overtaken by the penguins.
We arrive back and anchor with snow flurries driven by a strong wind, the temperature dropping to two degrees and a falling barometer.
Bob the Blog