Cuvewille Island sits in the Errera Channel. The Argentinean base Almirante Brown is located on the Antarctica mainland.
12.03.2007 - 12.03.2007
This was THE DAY. We were up and fed by 8:00 a.m., because the first PolarCircl pulled out at 8:30 a.m. to land on Cuverville Island. Cuverville is home of to one of the largest Gentoo penguin rookeries in the world. Once again, we were shuttled out to land, but this landing area was far from "user friendly."
Our boat pulled up into the shallows where four men were ready to wrestle boat to a stand-still while the waves were pulling it away. Once we got out of the boat, we had to walk through a foot of water over large round rocks. More than one person fell down.. .but we didn't. Finally up real land, we found three to four feet of snow that we had to walk through. One of the naturalists gave us a few rules (stay on the path...penguins get the right of way...) and then we spent the next hour walking around our path to view all the Gentoos. It was fantastic.
The females were resting on their nests (made of pebbles) while their mates waddled around the rookery, stealing pebbles from others' nest to use for their own. Most of them were noisy and very dirty — from living on the rocks where everyone eats, sleeps, incubates, and poops.
Returning from our adventure, we watched the other passengers being shuttled in and out. At 11:00 a.m. we sat in on the orientation for tomorrow: we are scheduled to stop at Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, and cruise through the Lemaire Channel (supposedly the most breathe-taking scenery down here). By noon, we were ready for lunch. Today's buffet menu was interesting; it included reindeer steaks.
Back from lunch, we had a little down time. But by 3:00 p.m., we were ready to get into our outdoor clothes once more. The afternoon destination: Almirante Brown Station in Paradise Bay. This was our first landing on the main land of Antarctica. There were only a few penguins there (we saw many Gentoos and our first Adelie), but there is a fantastic hill behind the camp. From the top, the view of Paradise Bay was unbelievable. John
trekked to the top and Susie stayed down below to photograph John sliding down on his butt (in waterproof pants, of course).
By 7:00 p.m., everyone was back on board.
After celebrating our conquest of the terra incognito ( that is, "unknown land"), dinner was ready. The theme for the meal: Norwegian — things like reindeer stew, lots of fish, squid, shellfish, and lobster.
A little more time to relax and swap stories with other passengers and then we're off to bed...because tomorrow we'll be up in time to watch the navigation of the Lemaire Channel. The sun never sets in the Antarctic — and we don't sit still while we're in the Antarctic.