From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
Jan 1, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer
New Year’s Day, Enterprise Islands, Orne Harbor
The air was perfectly still and light snow was falling gently onto the sea surface as National Geographic Explorer came into her anchorage among the Enterprise Islands shortly after 7:00a.m. this morning. By the end of breakfast the snow had stopped and the sky had brightened, which created perfect conditions for both kayaking and exploring the archipelago by Zodiac. During both activities we were visited by some of our hotel staff dressed as Vikings, dispensing hot chocolate laced with our choice of tasty “anti-freeze.” Also, we were able to inspect the shipwrecked remains of the whale processing vessel “Gouvernoren” which caught fire and partially sank back in 1916.
Once we were all back aboard, and our ship was sailing southward down the Gerlache Strait toward our afternoon destination, a pod of about 18 Type B killer whales was sighted from the bridge. As we approached these graceful animals, they took an obvious interest in our ship and to the delight of everyone on deck, swam together directly beneath the bow.
Our afternoon stop was at a place called Orne Harbor where we were able to get ashore at the base of spectacular Spigot Peak and make a truly continental landing. For many of us it was our seventh continent. Once ashore we were able to climb the steep slope to the chinstrap penguin colony for an overview of the Danco Coast and Errera Channel. Those not wishing to make the climb enjoyed a Zodiac cruise along the rocky coast among the many blue-tinted icebergs and the ever-present escort of curious gentoo penguins. Who could ask for a better first day of the year 2013?