November 17th, 2011 — 9:00 am
Yesterday we entered the pack ice about 8pm. The light was incredible as we photographed the snow petrels and Antarctic Terns fly among the pancake ice. The view from the fly bridge was surreal. Several times I had to stop taking photographs just to admire ice and the sunset. No image, no matter the number of pixels can do this place justice.
We just crossed the Antarctic Circle. Few people ever get this far south and we are heading even further south. The sun is shining with temperature about 30F. We are sailing through open sea surrounded by ice floes and tabular icebergs. We run from port to the starboard side and back again trying to get capture that perfect image of every unique iceberg.
Nov 17 – afternoon
A lot is going on today. The Captain is trying to get us through the ice. The staff moved the zodiacs inside so that the helicopters can be moved out of storage. The Russian crew is now putting together the two helicopters on the deck where they will remain while we are in the ice. The helicopters may be ready for landscape and wildlife viewing tomorrow.
This afternoon we will have a mandatory helicopter operations briefing regarding our conduct around, entering and exiting the helicopters. Viewing the landscape and wildlife by helicopter makes this ship, the Kaptain Klebnikov, so special. This is one of the few ships that carry helicopters. If not for the helicopters it would not be possible to get into the Emperor Penguin rookeries. My dream is to fly to the top and land on the Ross Sea Shelf and to fly over the Dry Valley. Both excursions are on the itinerary, of course, weather permitting.
Today, we are again required to vacuum our outer gear so that we do not carry any pathogens from previously visited islands to Antarctica. The staff also requires attendance to a lecture regarding visitor guidelines by IAATO ( International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators). IAATO is a component of the Antarctica Treaty. Our expeditions leaders always make great effort to ensure our personal safety and to protect the environment.
The rest of the day will be spent looking for wildlife from the bridge and watching the ever changing reflections on the ice while the Kaptain Klebnikov moves further south toward the continent.
(This is Laurie’s fourth visit to Antarctica. She is blogging her way through this epic month-long Antarctica trip; the Kapitan Khlebnikov’s Ross Sea Centennial Voyage. Tune in for daily updates from the field. Pictures from Laurie’s past Antarctica travels are found on her website.)