We Have Penguins!

Thursday, November 19th.   Doing my best to keep up the blog but must limit myself to just two pictures a day- as the technology at this end of the earth seems to be a bit overwhelmed . As Shackleton would have said, we are here in the Weird White World. Yesterday at 4:00 PM, we passed through the Antarctic Convergence.  Colder winds for a bit and some fog but still easy seas and no swells during the day. We have covered over 600 miles thanks to the unusual easterly winds, and so this morning were able to make land at Baily Head in the Shetland Islands a day earlier than expected.  How fortunate for us as landings are possible on these rough shores only about 30% of the time. Warm weather, sun, and 40,000 chinstrap penguins greeted us. If you sat quietly they came up to you with the most curious expressions. We watched as they paraded back and forth to the open waters and as the males brought back the perfect pebble for the family nest. This afternoon, the ship was able to make way into fast ice at Deception Island and as she pushed through, we could hear the ice crushing against the hull of the ship. After an ice stability check, we were all able to disembark and walk upon the frozen sea. One can imagine what it must have been like for Shackleton and his men to float upon an ice flow in this Southern Ocean and hope to make landfall at some point. We spent an hour walking about and were served hot chocolate with schnapps. Later, a few brave souls took the Polar Plunge at Whaler’s Bay, an abandoned whaling station. As they did, a small group of Adelie penguins observed the bizarre behavior of this strange species. Tonight, we are experiencing a more active sea, but still enjoyed dinner as we watched blue tabular icebergs float by. We did not need to attach the seat belts that hang from the bottom of each chair in the dining room; however,  but these are still early days.  It is 10:00P.M. and still light. Tomorrow we are off to Dorian Bay and then have been invited to visit Palmer Station, the U.S. research station located in Arthur Harbor. As they extend only twelve invitations a year, we are feeling quite honored.  Then off to see the Adelies at Torgensen Island. Hope you enjoy meeting one little chinstrap and viewing the Explorer in fast ice.