Feb 20, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
Our Wednesday began with an illuminating sunrise over the mountains and ocean surface as National Geographic Orion neared Port Lockroy.
This port, also known as Base A, is an old British base that was once used for whaling between 1911 and 1931. Lockroy also served as a research station until 1962. These days, though, Port Lockroy sits, small and unassuming, as a museum and post office, operated by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. The post office holds the title of the southernmost post office of the world, offering a fun opportunity for guests to send a memento or two from Antarctica to friends, family, or even for themselves to receive once back home. Whale bones sit on Jougla Point as a reminder of the destruction visited by Port Lockroy’s former inhabitants. Gentoo penguins nest here, parenting their chicks for the summer before they take off and begin their own lives.
The afternoon saw the ship heading out of port into the Neumeyer Channel. The Neumeyer Channel is a large body composed of generally calm water and brash ice. The glacier-ridden shoreline starkens the effect of this expanse.
Our expedition leader saw this afternoon as a fit one for kayaking. The expedition team readied the boats and prepared setting us to sea. This led to one of the most tranquil hours of the trip thus far, being separated from the noise of the ship’s engine, the radios, and almost everything else in proximity. The crew set off on their own small craft to pass out hot chocolate to those in the little yellow kayaks. The kayaking experience offers a wide variety of wildlife encounters, usually quite intimate ones, from minke whales, to penguins, to leopard seals.
After we got back aboard the crew killed the ship’s engine, allowing those daring enough to partake in a rite of Antarctic passage known as the polar plunge.
After a long day of venturing through the Antarctic expanse, National Geographic Orion, her crew, and her guests sailed into the night with cocktails in hand and stories in heart, ready for the next full day of expedition to come.
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