Brilliant light and an electric atmosphere pervaded National Geographic Endurance as we began our day today. Expeditionary travel may mean different things to different people, depending on experience, ability, and outlook. There is no question, though, that today we are among a very privileged few who have been on an expedition to the isolated island named after Peter the Great; a forbidding volcanic island remotely rising out of the abyssal plain of the Bellingshausen Sea. Often surrounded by raging storms and choked with icebergs and pack ice, National Geographic Endurance was able to easily approach the island, with calm winds and placid seas, and only a small amount of pack ice to negotiate. Few people have ever stood on the small rocky spit called Framnæsodden where we were able to land. We explored Sandefiordsbukten by Zodiac boat and in kayaks, enjoying a full day of unusually peaceful weather in this unique sea- and land- scape. Fewer even were the brave souls who celebrated this experience with a plunge into the 0.5 C waters; shocking and refreshing, and endlessly entertaining to the more rational folk who watched the spectacle from the upper decks.
National Geographic Resolution
Morning light brought with it a fantastic surprise. Killer whales were sighted early, and an unexpected wakeup call brought everyone out of bed around 6:30. We were treated to nearly an hour of killer whale fun. These were Type A killer whales that specialize in predating on marine mammals. As the dark of night set in, the National Geographic Resolution left the Drake Passage behind and headed into the Beagle Channel. As the ship approached land, we began to see a change in the bird life that surrounded the ship. Large sea birds, like the royal albatross, began to fade away. We began to see more cormorants and land birds. Everyone gazed out the windows, keen to see trees again. It was a wonderful end to a fantastic New Year’s trip!