Entering the Weddell Sea: the ice thickens

We had a quiet night at Brown Bluff before heaving anchor at 0600 to head south into the Weddell Sea, where Shackleton became caught in the ice over winter. Europa passed through the narrow Fridtjof Sound: it is not always passable for ice but that morning the bergs were far … 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

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

Stamps in my passport: marking territories and staking claims

Antarctica has no borders. It is a shared space, a place of peace and science. Those institutions which impose borders shelved them in 1957, and the first three articles of the Antarctic Treaty commit all signatories to peace, science and collaboration. It was fitting therefore that the artists Lucy and … Continue reading

Embarkation

At last embarkation day arrived. I had waited months for the moment. I flew down to Punta Arenas on 5 March for the embarkation on 6 March, and had  pleasant day wandering around Punta Arenas meeting the knitters and stray dogs. Of course the main event was finally getting to … Continue reading

The Enduring Eye: Hurley’s record of the Endurance

Ernest Shackleton decided that he wanted a professional photographer with him on the grandly named Imperial Trans-Antarctic Exhibition which left England in 1914, receiving the message that war had broken out shortly after steaming out of port. He chose Frank Hurley, a young Australian. Hurley had a great commitment to … Continue reading