Some REAL Antarctic Weather And Shopping.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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MS Expedition

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Please come immediately to the expedition lounge, we have a surprise change of plans!"

After not landing on Petermann Island (see previous story) we thought we were to have a quiet afternoon, however it is now 5pm and we are summonsed to a meeting. The change of plans is an exciting one. We are going to land at Port Lockroy where the Brits still have a base and nearby Jougla point. The old buildings here go back to an earlier era of WWII when a base was in operation to monitor any German activity in the area. It was used as a research base through the fifties. The buildings have been restored and, wonder of wonders, inside one, is a shop and a Post Office! A very interesting museum also forms part of the main building.

So we are hyped up and go down to the mud room and gear up. We can feel an icy wind blowing through the open door but not until we have stepped into the zodiac do we have any concept that the weather has turned foul and a gale force icy wind is cutting across the water with a massive wind chill factor (I heard mentioned -30?). There are two sites to be landed, so that not everyone is trying to get into the tiny gift shop at once and our zodiac takes us to Jougla Point first.

We have never experienced a wind chill like this! The wind roars as we climb up the beach to the headland and takes our voices away. We find penguins, seals and birds but our cameras freeze up and we have to keep warming them. At times the wind feels like it is trying to lift us up and blow us away. Surprisingly, we are reveling in the drama of it! We are now seeing the Antarctica we thought we might (and could easily have had) every day instead of just one day.  The contrast between the day before and this is what the real Antarctica is about.

We climb back in the zodiac and travel the short distance to the Port Lockroy landing and enjoy the bizarre feeling of shopping in Antarctica. I buy a backpack and a windcheater and Avan buys some stamps, coins and a polo shirt. The wind buffets us as we struggle back down to the beach to catch the zodiac back and cuts through all our many layers of clothing, as if they just didn't exist. Thank heavens for that lovely warm expedition boat waiting for us and the gorgeous Josie on the loudspeaker saying “It’s time for dinner – Bon Appetite!”  

That night, we decide it is time to sample the night life on the boat and find our way to the Polar Bear Bar (a wag has renamed to the bi-polar bar, as the bears are not here) for some drinks. It is a Karaoke night and a party is in full swing. When we head off to bed at 1.30am it is still as light as day and Avan took pictures without a flash to show the effect. We are so far south that there is not really a dark time at all.
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