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Published: November 15th 2016
It would be two days sailing through bad weather to Antarctica or so we were lead to believe, the weather however was so good that we were able to land at an Argentine research station in the rarely visited South Orkney Islands. The base is located in a bay where a Scottish expedition ship was once frozen in the ice and the crew were forced to survive on penguins and seals for eight months. The base has been operating since 1904 and seems to be an Argentine land grab rather than anything else as little scientific research appears to be going in. There are 16 males at the basement during the winter months and they have a small museum, a church and several bars.
These islands are remote, cold and harsh but I did see the only Adelie Penguins we would see here so it was worth the visit and it broke up our journey to Antarctica. About 24 hours later we reached the South Shetlands which were surrounded by icebergs and which support large numbers of Southern Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguin colonies as well as Crab eater Seals. Moving around in these areas was much more difficult as the
snow was deep and I often sank to my waste. The environment is pristine, crystal clear water, air so clean and cold that you just can't get enough and the ice is often blue in colour, no noise or garbage here.
We were concerned that we wouldn't make an Antarctica landing but on the second to last day we finally set foot on our sixth continent and it was a magnificent experience to celebrate Ruth and I tobogganed down a hill on our arses at Orne Bay which was very cool. The next highlight was Deception Island which is the remains of a large volcano, there was little ice so the ship was able to sail through a channel in the cliffs right into the crater. Not much to see here but a black sand beach and a secondary crater.
Our final stop was at Half Moon Island which had an interesting old boat and some mating Crab eater seals and then it was back to the boat and a two day of slightly rougher seas as we crossed Drake Passage. We were blessed with great weather for almost the full three week voyage and I didn't get
sea sick once.
We arrived back in Ushuaia early on a Saturday morning after spending our last night anchored in the much friendlier Beagle Channel, we spent much if the day running various errands and planning tge next phase of our trip.
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