Paradise to a Whaling Captain

February 2, 2008

Andvord Bay, Paradise Harbor and Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica,

During the Alaska summer I get little sleep.  I don’t sleep with curtains drawn so generally wake up early and go to bed late.  I figure I will make it up in the winter when I sleep a lot more.  This trip is messing with my annual sleep cycle, because the sun is up by 4:30 and sets at 10:30.  It’s a good thing because I love watching the stark and beautiful country we are sailing through.  I don’t want to miss anything.

Because we left Ushuaia late the captain changed plans in our cruising.  We did not Lemaire Channel as scheduled, but stayed closer to the Palmer Station.  This meant on Sunday cruising around Anvers and Wiencke Islands.  On Monday we cruised along the coast of the Antarctic Continent in Andvord Bay, Paradise Harbor (named by whaling captains because it is just that pretty) and Wilhelmina Bay.  The weather was good.  It was warmer than yesterday with less wind but equally beautiful with a couple of additions, red algae on the face of some of the glaciers and green plankton that you can see when looking through the clear water, set off by the ice beneath.  It is the only green we can see; certainly there was none in the hills or mountains.

In earlier posts I talked a little about whales and penguins. Today we also saw other people.  Tourists are beginning to make their way to the bottom of the world.  We passed research stations run by the Argentines and Chileans, (at the Argentine base we observed a chain of people climbing a glacier), several Zodiacs poking around bays, two small Coast Guard boats, at least three other cruise ships, a sailing yacht, and a Russian research vessel that was full of boisterous young people shouting back and forth to each other from several Zodiacs to their mother ship.  We saw more boat traffic today than we saw in the Chilean channels south of Puerto Montt or in the Straits of Magellan.


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