King penguins

Farthest south!


Day 12 - On Iceberg B-15 K


     This journal is constructed as one web page for each day of my journey, including the arrival day in Auckland, and the final two days, which I spent in Hobart.  I have tried to keep the picture images of a reasonable size for easy web page loading.  To see a much larger view of (practically) any image, just left-click on the photo.

     And, so, we are northward bound.  The mood among the passengers is one of some melancholy.  There had been talk of doing a quick trip over to Cape Bird in the morning.  But, the logistics seemed to outweigh the benefits - there wasn't really anything to see there, and we couldn't wander very far.  However, later in the morning, the ship wedged itself into the ice and we did have a chance to do a bit of walking around.

     It always feels great to get out.  On the ice I saw tracks of penguins, both walking along and gliding along, and the track of a seal.  When they want to move, they can do so rather quickly.  We did see a few penguins trek across the area, while we were out, with little, or no, notice of us.

     I did have a mishap that made me panic for a short while.  I dropped my camera and the memory stick popped out into the snow!  I cleaned it up as best I could, and wrapped tissues around the memory stick.  Returning to my cabin, I was able to sort things out and all the pictures were intact.  Whew!

     I returned to the ice, and strapped on my Kahtoolas, which are compact crampons.  I really didn't need to use them, but I promised the owner (they are made in Flagstaff, Arizona) that I'd make sure to get him a photo of me wearing them.  By this time, most passengers were hanging around behind the boat and the crew was hosting a "polar plunge."  Anyone brave enough was offered the dubious opportunity of jumping into the water.  Brrrrrr.  About ten folks partook, both passengers and crew.  The best participant was an old Russian crewman, who wisely stepped down the ladder into the water and gently swam about the pool a couple of times, calmly climbing out and accepting a shot of vodka.  The key, it seems, is to keep your head out of the water!

Cape Bird in the early morning.  A seal waddles out of the way. Penguins scurry across the ice.

Wedged into the "fast" ice, I leaned
up against the bow of the ship
in a nonchalance pose.  There is a story here about the physics of ice, 
but I don't know what it is!

Many others took advantage. 

Trying out my Kahtoolas. 

The "polar plunge" - I demurred. 

A penguin glided by here. 

     In the early afternoon, we passed by another ship - the Enderby.  This was the ship I had first tried to book my cruise on.  But, it was full, and Chuck, at Expeditions, told me that the Enderby would not be able to go as far as the Khlebnikov, because of all the ice in McMurdo Sound.  Was he ever on target with that piece of advice.  We saw that the Enderby wasn't going any further that where we passed them.  I doubt that these passengers got to see either Shackleton's or Scott's Huts, the Dry Valleys, nor McMurdo.  If I was on that trip, I would have been bitterly disappointed!

     We rounded iceberg B-15 (the cause of all the ice being blocked in McMurdo) and the news went out that we were going to do a landing on it later in the day.  Well, that was cool for us.  We were shuttled over, as usual, by helicopter, and had as much time as we wanted to spend there.  The crew had scouted out an area that seemed devoid of dangerous crevasses (well, one can never be perfectly sure!).  Blocks were cut out of the ice to build a bar, and we were served up champagne.  Quite a treat.  I commented to someone that if anything bad befell us - like, if the iceberg started breaking up underneath us - that, absolutely nobody in the world would feel sorry for us.

     We were on top of iceberg B-15 K, although, at the time, we were told that it was B-15 A, the largest piece of the behemoth iceberg that has been bouncing around here for a few years.  But, later investigation showed that we were on the recently slivered B-15 K.  The image, to the right, is from Global Coordinate, which I have annotated to show major features of interest.  You can see the gap between the Drygalski Ice Tongue and B-15 A, which we cruised through on day 8.  As of the spring of 2006, the iceberg has broken up some more, floated north and had run aground at Cape Adare.

Atop iceberg B-15 K, the crew cut out some blocks of ice and built a bar, complete with some stools.  The champagne was on the house. 

Blue ice down a crevasse on B-15 K. 

The last of our gray days for a while. 

Beaufort Island and B-15 K. 

I was there ... but it was K, not A.

The Enderby ... not going further!  A seal relaxes on an ice floe. It's Australia Day!

     Our day ended with a party - it was Australia Day.  And, our largest contingent of folks hail from down under.  So, there was a talent show in the lounge, and we sang songs that had been altered just a bit to reflect our Antarctic perspective.  A good time had by all.  A couple of the Kiwis won the costume contest, with hats that had corks dangling from them.  The hats were familiar to the locals - they keep the flies away!  There is a joke that goes that there are more flies in Australia than there are sheep in New Zealand.

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