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Crossing the Scotia Sea en route to the Falkland Islands

Steadying ourselves as we swing and sway through the corridors was becoming a honed art for many of us this morning. Perhaps we’re still not managing it gracefully, but we are getting to know the rolling swell of the Southern Ocean and when to walk, stop, hold on, or just lie down! Indeed we are perplexed by the abilities of the crew who seem to float across the ship with their hands laden with trays and plates, glasses, and jugs—and not even bat an eyelid. As the coffee was being poured and the eggs fried this morning we were happy to find the swell had in fact dissipated greatly since the previous evening. Read More>

Mar 20, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Southern Ocean Crossing

After leaving South Georgia we knew there would be a two-day crossing to the protection of the Falkland Islands and the capital Stanley. As the southern travelling season heads towards equinox, equal night, it means that the summer weather will change quickly in the Southern Ocean. The winds were fast and changeable which made for a confused sea state. The benefit for those awake and alert was a chance to see the great seabirds of the Southern Ocean make their living in the winds and waves. Read More>

Mar 19, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Hercules Bay & at Sea toward Port Stanley

Sheets of vertical rain hurtled across Hercules Bay in strong winds as the ship weighed anchor prior to our departure. However it might be better to go back to the start of our last day in South Georgia. Read More>

Mar 18, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Salisbury Plain & Prion Island

With the ship wreathed in heavy fog, we boarded Zodiacs ahead of the dawn for an early morning landing at Salisbury Plain. The fog was cold but incredibly atmospheric in the morning gloom. Cruising towards the beach, we were greeted by hordes of king penguins and fur seals all whipping through the blue water near the shore and accompanying us all the way up the beach to the lifejacket station. The all-enveloping fog occasionally cleared to give us tantalizing glimpses of snow-covered mountains beyond. Those who braved the early start were rewarded with their first experience of South Georgia’s second largest penguin colony, home to over 200,000 pairs of majestic king penguins. After the cold and early start, breakfast and hot coffee was a necessity for most of us. Read More>

Mar 17, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Stromness and Grytviken VIDEO

Retracing but a few of the steps Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men took on their perilous and lifesaving crossing of South Georgia is a poignant moment. To imagine what these men endured while crossing this frigid and unforgiving ice dominated landscape is entirely impossible. We can never truly understand the drive and motivation that enabled these men to endure the trek with not only their own survival at stake, but also the survival of the men left on the opposite shores of South Georgia and their men left back on Elephant Island. One can only suppose that a large part of Shackleton’s resilience came from his commitment to his men and their survival. Witnessing and experiencing the final leg of this epic journey from Fortuna Bay to Stromness will be a highlight of the voyage for many of us and indeed a highlight of our travels in years to come. Read More>

Mar 16, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Gold Harbor & Drygalski Fjord VIDEO

The day began early and rightly so. Gold Harbor earns its name from its location, holding the southeast corner of South Georgia where the first light of the sun often breaks through to paint the hanging glacier upon the mountainside. Boasting the third largest king penguin colony upon the archipelago, our guests were delighted to set foot upon its shores. Navigating the myriad of Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals, we all journeyed through the dense aggregation of life. Though the first light was obscured by clouds, the sun would not be denied, eventually coming out to paint the colony, but often on South Georgia with clear skies comes harsh winds. Though all seemed well upon the shore, large sprits of salt water were rising toward the sky on the horizon, an indication of what was to come. Wisely, our expedition leader called all back to the Zodiacs and just in time—for soon came winds gusting over 50 knots. Heading away from the colony, the captain sought protection in nearby Drygalski Fjord—a magnificently high walled revelation of geological activity. Read More>

Mar 15, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

Throughout the morning, we continued riding towards South Georgia with tailwinds. This island became the epicenter for the Antarctic whaling when Captain C. A. Larsen established his whaling station at Grytviken in November 1904. So, it was very appropriate to have a presentation around the theme of whaling. It can be a controversial subject, but do recall that in the heyday of whaling, parts of whales were of great use in many different aspects of society. Read More>

Mar 14, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At sea, en route to South Georgia

We are sailing in an east-southeast direction towards South Georgia, entering into the zone known as the Polar Front. This is the northern boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which brings north the cold and nutrient-rich waters of the Antarctic. South Georgia is right in the path of this current driven by the prevailing westerly winds and the topography of the seafloor. For those of us watching the bridge’s navigation equipment, the most significant change is the marked drop in the sea surface temperature. Suddenly, the ocean surface is two degrees colder, the gray skies had turned into a dense fog that comes and goes as warm air meets cold air. Our eyes are incapable of seeing too far, but the mist does not seem to affect the magnificent fly of the wandering albatross. Politically, we have also entered the 200 mile nautical zone that is managed by the government of South Georgia. Read More>

Mar 13, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

At Sea, Approaching the Southern Ocean

With the Falkland Islands behind us for the moment, we are making good time on an east by southeast heading, bound for South Georgia. We will make only a very small change in latitude during this crossing, about 51˚41’S to 54˚15’S or around 150 nautical miles, but over this short north-south distance we will be entering a completely different ocean. The Southern Ocean is something of a quandary. Read More>

Mar 12, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Carcass & West Point Islands, Falkland Islands

A night of good sleep has energized our appetite for adventure. We have travelled to this remote corner of the South Atlantic to see its wildlife, and the Falkland Islands have delivered once again. The day started at Carcass Island, located in the northwest of the archipelago. Read More>

Mar 11, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

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