|Penguins, icebergs, and our ship--on a gorgeous sunny day in Antarctica.|
On day 10 of our week-long Antarctic expedition, a blizzard blew in. Winds gusting up to 115 miles per hour slung snow sideways across the deck of our ship. Ice crusted windowsills and kayaks stacked on the port side of the deck as temperatures fell below freezing.The ship rolled with the roaring waves prompting the captain to reposition the ship so that the mountains onshore would provide additional shelter from the storm.
Our expedition beginsThroughout the seven scheduled days aboard Sea Adventurer, we had enjoyed exceptional weather—epic days, the guides said. Nearing the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, temps hovered in the mid-30s and seas were mostly calm—perfect for our Antarctic experience.
|Disembarking the plane that brought us to King George Island.|
|Brilliant sunset after crossing the Antarctic Circle|
The night before leaving Punta Arenas, Chile we were issued heavy-duty, waterproof, double-lined, yellow parkas (ours to keep) and thick mid-calf “muck” boots. These were necessary for keeping feet warm and dry as we tromped through snow, ice, mud, and slush. Also, most Zodiac landings on shore required walking through water a short distance before reaching land.
|Boarding Zodiacs to get to the Sea Adventurer, which was|
anchored off shore.
In the morning everyone met in the hotel lobby at 3:30 a.m. for an early morning flight—necessary to utilize the shrinking window of opportunity for landing on the primitive airstrip at the Chilean military base on King George Island. Still, we applauded our good decision to fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island. Not only did we skip the two-day, potentially horrendous passage through the Drake Channel, but we saved four days’ travel time on our voyage.After two hours in the air, the plane landed uneventfully, passengers disembarked, and we walked a mile and a half on a muddy path to the beach where we boarded Zodiacs that took us to the Sea Adventurer. Excitement was thick in the air as each traveler first set foot on the ship that would be our home for a week’s expedition.
Weather determines everything in Antarctica
|Ice on a window of the ship|
Quickly, our luggage was loaded onto the Zodiacs, and we also boarded the water crafts for our last ride to shore. When everyone had reached land, our group got the necessary permission to walk across the Chilean military base. We were there watching as the plane zoomed in for a landing. Ditching our muck boots (too dirty for the plane), we boarded and took off without delay—to a hefty round of applause.
|Finally (and gratefully) leaving King George Island--walking to the airstrip.|
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier