My furthest south

Our aim for 20 March was to see if we could get as far south as Snow Hill Island where Nordenskjold had spent two winters with the 1903-4 Swedish scientific exploration. Even Jordi was hopeful: he has spent seven years trying and failing to get there and maybe the lack … Continue reading

Brown Bluff: geology and gulls

The geology of the Antarctic Peninsula continued to fascinate as we arrived at Brown Bluff. The bluff in question is a line of pancake rocks towering over a huge glacier to the east and a narrow rocky beach. It sits at the entrance to the Weddell Sea on the edge … Continue reading

Hope and fossils

Hope Bay is a deep indentation on the northern end of the Peninsula’s finger. By the standards of the region, it is sheltered, a strip of land between the mountains and the sea. The area has a long history in the annals of Antarctic science and exploration.  Here three men from … Continue reading

Icebergs, rope and whales

We left Deception Island after an uneasy night at anchor and enjoyed a glorious sail across the Bransfield Strait to be met by whales at the iceberg cluster at the western end of the Antarctic Sound. We arrived there not long before sunset and were greeted by this  humpback hunting. I … Continue reading

Whalers’ Bay, Deception Island

The flooded caldera of Deception Island is known as Port Lockroy, and just inside is the wide, black arc of Whalers’ Bay. Going ashore in 35 knot wind, buffeted by hail and grit was both challenging and satisfying. I wrote then about the sensory overload: the crunch of gritty snow, … Continue reading

Sailing to Deception Island (reprise)

We left Barnard’s Point headed for Deception Island. The wind was rising when I finally got my hands on the wheel under sail. I wrote rapturously about it at the time: I’ve helmed a lot more since then, and it never stopped being a blast. We came towards the hills … Continue reading

Fog at Half Moon Island

Half Moon Island is a caldera in the strait between Greenwich Island and Livingstone to the south. When I went on anchor watch at 0600 the ship was shrouded in mist, icebergs just visible drifting past the bay. Snow was falling, bringing that characteristic hush. We made an early start, ashore … Continue reading

Fort Point: fit for Westeros

After Yankee Harbour we travelled the six miles to Fort Point on the south easterly side of Greenwich Island. It’s obviously named after its rocks, and it wouldn’t be out of place guarding a strategic river crossing in the Seven Kingdoms.  The rocks are piled up in basalt slabs from … Continue reading

Arrival in Antarctica

I finally recovered from seasickness enough to stand my watch our very last night in the Drake. It was bitterly cold and pitch dark at at 1900 when I went on deck. A big swell was still running, so Europa was pitching and bouncing around. It is hard to take … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: I is for ice

Ice strains, cracks and sometimes breaks, under the burden, slips and slides, does not stay in place, does not stay still. Glaciers, like poems, appear solid, inevitable, perfect at their heart, but are not. Impermanent ice weathers like epigraphs in the graveyard, words written on the changing world. Rivers flow, … Continue reading