65.9 Degrees South - Our Most Southerly Point.

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

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MS Expedition

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Monday, November 29, 2010

Crack, Bang, Scrape, Clang, Squeak….. these noises reverberate through the air as the MS Expedition makes her way slowly and gingerly through pack ice that parts unwillingly for her passage. We are sitting at lunch and John one of the expedition leaders  is at our table and jumps up to look more closely out the window and says "Wow that is much more ice than we expected!"   He tells us he doubts we will get through this ice to our proposed landing spot of Petermann Island (65.10 degrees south), however the boats second captain is a specialist in ice flow navigation. Our ship is not an “icebreaker” as such but is reinforced to be able to break up limited pack ice. The problem for the captain is that it is not just pack ice but there are some icebergs as well, that he must navigate around, as there is no ship ever than can break through an iceberg.

Earlier, we had been up on deck at 8am (freezing cold and rugged up with many layers) to watch as the Captain negotiated the eleven km long narrow Lemaire channel.  Spectacular, almost vertical, 1000 metre peaks line this channel and chunky flat topped icebergs litter the water.  After breakfast it was down to the mud room again to get geared up for a zodiac cruise. Avan and I ended up in separate boats once again (not by design) and we were zipped around  by our very competent expedition leaders in zodiacs to see the wondrous shapes and colours of icebergs. An hour into our zodiac cruise a bitter wind whipped the water into chop and cold spray splashing all, so the boats headed in. In Antarctica winds are continually revolving the continent and can arrive at any location with limited warning. (known as Catatonic winds)

As our lunch came to an end, we rugged up again and went out on deck to witness the MS Expedition's progress through the pack ice up close. There was an air of danger, as the noises of breaking ice continued and looking at the sheets of ice below the ship, one was reminded that being dumped in that water would not be a good thing!

As we inched along breaking the ice, right in front of us several lone seals came into view, perched on their own large icebergs. We had plenty of opportunity for photographs as they snoozed unconcerned at our proximity.

A loud speaker carried the voice of our expedition leader Julio announcing that we had now reached the most southerly point we would be achieving and that it was not going to be possible to get to Petermann Island for a landing, even though it was in sight. There was a possibility that if we got through, the ice might close up and freeze around us and we would not be able to get out for some time.

Most of us wandered back into the boat from the deck, even maybe a little relieved that we were not going to don our full wet weather gear again, just now, and settled down with a hot cup of coffee while we listened to a lecture while the Ship’s Captain turned the boat around and headed back in a northerly direction.
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