Heading back, Day 1
Here is some catching up on previous days.
First the Swedish and then Bob
Sydvästliga vindar denna morgon. Toppen då får vi medvind. Inga häftiga ändringar i vinden. Fem man på kanten på kryssen. Rundningsmärke blir ett isberg när vi slår in i en fjord som bär namnet Admiralty Bay. Men nu blir det som vanligt efter en stund. Vinden rätt i näsan och ökar till 12 sekundmeter. Typiskt när vi strax ska ankra.
Ton Ton är nu förväntansfull. Inne på stranden finns en Brasiliansk station. På King George Island finns det massor av stationer för forskning. På ställen för säker ankring finns minst en station. Thomas och jag gör en tur bort till en glaciär. Det var ok i början men sen börjar vågor och vind. Thomas hade inte räknat med detta, skor och fel byxor. Thomas blir minst sagt lite blöt men glad ändå. Tar med lite is. Alltid lika kul att höra ljudet när isen smälter i glaset. När luften lämnar isen får man upplevelsen av att poppa popcorn.
På kvällningen gör vi vårt besök på den Brasilianska stationen. Får erkänna att Lars sa till mig att ta med våra handdukar och tvål i ryggsäcken. Tänk om de erbjuder dusch. Tyvärr blev det inte något sådant erbjudande. Rundvandringen visade att man har satsat på att göra den så miljövänlig som det går efter dagens mått. Kaffe och naturligtvis en ny stämpel.
Att sova i kojen längs fram kan ibland ha sina nackdelar. Kättingen hänger ju längs farm i fören. På botten finns det mycket sten. När båten rör på sig dras kättingen på botten. De ljudet hörs mycket tydligt i kojen. Så var det i natt.
Resan tillbaka över Drake passage närmar sig. Väderfilerna visar att vi ska vänta ett dygn. Polska stationen hade hört oss på radion. De bjöd in oss till deras station. Eftersom den ankarplatsen vi hade nu inte var så bra flyttar vi. På vägen går vi till en glaciär. Hopp om ett stort ras av is. Vackert var det men något ras bjöds inte på. Det blev bara en säl intill glaciärkanten.
Polska stationen mottog oss verkligen med öppna famnen. En yngre herre som jag glömt namnet på möter upp på stranden. Bjuder in oss till deras matsal/vardagsrum. Ta kaffe och slå er ner i sofforna säger denna trevliga herre. Ett bord fult med godis och småkakor finns nu framför oss. Resten kan ni ju räkna ut själva. Det visar sig att detta bord alltid står framdukat. Varmt inne är det också. Om vi blivit själva en stund i denna miljö hade vi nog somnat i soffan . Mätta och nöjda.
Elefantsäl ska finnas på en strand längre bort blir vi upplysta om. Den yngre herren följer med oss på promenad dit för att se dessa stor djur. På stranden ligger de och vilar. Upp till 4 ton kan deras vikt vara. På väg tillbaka blir vi inbjudna på middag. Korv, skinka, soppa med mera bjöds det på. Vilken avslutning på vår resa här nere. Havet är spegelblank. Klarblå himmel med rött inslag. Så ser det ut när jollen puttrar ut till båten.
Vad visar morgonens väderfiler. Rätt vindar för att ta oss över. Frukost. Jollen upp på däck. Färden mot Kap Horn har startat. När jag skriver detta är vi mellan King George Island och Robert Island. Vinden in om styrbord, 7.5 knopp. 22.00 startar första vakten. Jag och Bob vaktar till 24.00.
25012012 The Boys from Brasil
Another day another Base, so we're off in search of the Brasilian base, some thirty nmiles North East in Admiralty Bay the next one up from where we are in King George Island. This, along with Maxwell Bay is home to the largest collection of scientific stations in Antarctica.
We have a pleasant sail around until entering the Bay. The wind turns on the nose and we motor. Its quiet a wide bay with many weird and wonderful volcanic stumps poking through the snow. Turning off into a smaller arm where the base is located we are confronted by an enormous glacier filling the whole of its end.
It has been "Calving" and we have to weave our way between them as we pick an anchorage to the West of the Base. To the East it looks like an impassable line of "Bergie Bits" and this way we're out of their direct line of fire.
We are invited to join the Brasilian Base after 6pm. Landing, the pebble shore line is covered in ancient whalebones, a legacy from its past. The usual attendance penguins greet us. Interestingly they are a mixed bunch of Gentoo, Chinstraps and Adelie with their blue rimmed black eyes.
The Base Commander came out to greet us and show us around. Though its looks like a long factory building that is really the outer shell, the generator rooms, storage, and workshops are to full height, but the rest appear to be container modules for laboratories, gymnasium, dentist surgery and kitchens etc with a big Bar-b-q at the end of one of the corridors.
Hot water from the three generators (One operational, one for extra power and a spare) is used to preheat the hot water tanks. There was an additional generator that ran on Alcohol. All cans were binned next to a big hydraulic press for crushing as, in common with everybody in Antarctica (Including us), they are required to export ALL of their rubbish.
We received a warm welcome when we reached the canteen and after meeting many of the base personnel we departed with a welcome gift of two bottles of Brasils' favourite drink, Casasha. Just a note at this point, all the bases we have visited are amazingly warm if not hot inside though this could be relative to our rather chilly conditions aboard!
It was a noisy night as the wind turned and sent all those Bergie bits rattling down the side of the hull. This accompanied by the rock and roll motion from the increased seas and the grinding of the anchor chain made it a disturbed night for light sleeper and those up in the bow.
On rubbish, in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty regulations we split ours into inorganic, Bottles, Tins & Plastics and organic, food waste and paper this is stored in the cockpit locker and chain locker respectively. The Heads (toilet) holding tank is emptied when we are offshore.
The use of keg beer saved many space consuming cans (We crush those we do have) and was such a good idea we managed to consume the contents with more vigour than anticipated.
Bob the Blog
26102012 And Finally Poland
It's a nice sunny day. The wind is dead on the nose (Surprise!) as we motor back down the Bay towards the Polish base nearer the entrance. To starboard there is a massive glacier with a few new Bergs floating off it, so we decide to close in and do some photography.
Approaching, it towers over our 82 foot mast. The water at its base is a placid aquamarine. The face is a tortured mass of ice with deep blue lit crevices and peaks. It all looks very unstable. A penguin pops up and just as quickly disappears. A couple of Skuas give us a flypast while a Kelp Gull perches on an ice pinnacle keeping a watchful eye on proceedings.
The contrasting brown charred mountains either side soar upwards, trapping the gleaming white glacier between them, though the edges are brown with scree that has fall onto the surface as it grinds its way to the sea.
Passing Fjord like valley with by know familiar mountain and glacier filled valleys we seek a safe anchorage out of the way of the ice. Pulling into a bay formed by two reefs it looks promising until the Base inform us that its full of uncharted rocks.
We head down a bay to where there is a big penguin colony. I don't know what they've been feeding on but the stench was overpowering. So we beat a hasty retreat and negotiate our way over a somewhat erratic bottom to the east of the Base.
Landing off to the West and the shore end of the reef we are looking to explore the large rock with a light on top along with plaques and a shrine secured to the rock face.
There is an interesting wooden building on its otherside which turns out to be a gift shop for when the tour ships arrive.
Behind the shingle beach there is a large area of moss liberally scattered with whale bones of all shapes and sizes. Jacob from the station who meets us volunteers to take us to the penguin site but we decide to give that one a miss. Most of the area is protected, with scientific research access only.
At base we are invited to take coffee and help ourselves to a table packed with biscuits and other goodies. Tonton meets up with the three Brasilians working on the base which has some 45 scientist there for terms varying from a couple of months to a year. We were invited to try some special Polish vodka which contained a flavour of the area in which it was produced. It went down very nicely.
Later we're told there are some Fir Seals further up the beach he took us to see. We have also been invited for dinner. Tonton takes his compatriots for a tour of the yacht and to pick up some wine while the rest of us trudge up the beach before dinner.
Dinner is a noodle soup and sausages. The table is laden with various types of bread, Pickles, Cheeses and sauces which we devour with relish. During our feast a Spanish research ship we had seen at Deception Island arrives to deliver a Spanish and a Portuguese researcher who were coming to work for a couple of months.
A Skua had hopped its way up to the open door and Jacob warned us that they like to steal hats. He'd had to chase one down the beach to recover his, some days previously. They have been known to come in, leaving a little calling card which we were told was somewhat difficult to remove from their flooring.
The wine was opened and the party began, though we took our leave early as tomorrow we hope to start back all 450 nmiles across the Drake Passage to Cape Horn We've been following the Grib forecast, watching a low passing through and waiting for a suitable weather window which will give us favourable winds for the journey.
Interestingly they are only re-supplied one a year. Though we were assured there was no shortage of alcohol, but this did mean there were no fresh vegetable and the apples on offer were already three months old!
Bob the Blog