With the New Year only a few hours away, we set sail for Blind Bay. The plan was to find some fast ice, sea water that has frozen solid on the surface, and is also attached to the shore holding it in place. We would wedge the ship into it, just as we did for the polar plunge, and be able to get off the boat and ring in 2009 with a party on the ice.
On the way east to Blind Bay we dipped southward into what would be our southernmost point on the entire trip: 67¼ 36' 65". At that latitude and time of year the sun was well above the horizon all the time, so we'd truly ring in the year with the midnight sun.
After edging around the island we headed into Blind Bay, an enclosed area that, judging from the latest satellite ice charts would still have fast ice in it. Unfortunately when we got there the ice was rotten: fast ice that has become so soft and thin that it's not far from breaking apart into a billion bits of free-floating ice. Certainly not safe to walk on! We drove the ship into the endless expanse of ice with the intent of wedging the ship fast as we had done the day before, but it was not to be. We hit the ice, engines blazing, only to rise up a bit , cut the ice ahead of us, and continue on into the solid white desert of ice, marred only by the occasional penguin or seal track.
Hoping to encounter more solid ice, we plowed on in, leaving a slurry of ice and water in a trail behind us. After breaking over a mile in to the ice it became clear that it wasn't going to get any thicker, and we came to a halt completely surrounded by thin ice, save for a mile-long track of slush off the stern.
Nearly midnight now (though still bright as it had been all day) we all, guests and crew, gathered on the stern and welcomed in the new year. The day was even more special for the largely Ukrainian crew, as the Ukrainian January 1st is New Years and Christmas all rolled up in to one, and is far and away their biggest holiday of the year.
As per naval tradition, at the stroke of midnight the oldest person aboard (in this case, Uncle Alan) rings out the old year by striking the ship's bell twelve times, and then the youngest person aboard (Philip, 18 years old and one of the crew-in-training) strikes the bell another 12 times to ring in the new year.
The captain had made sure we flew a flag for most of the nationalities represented on the ship (in this case, American, Swedish, French and British), and we all, passengers and crew alike, partied with flags, bubbly and bubbles until we remembered how late it was, and that tomorrow would be another busy day!
With this chapter, we're also adding a map of our travels so far to the bottom of each page, to give folks a better idea of exactly where on the Peninsula each chapter took place. Check it out below!
Read the next chapter: Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Telling the Story posted Jan 10, 2009
Day 0: Positioning posted Jan 12, 2009
Leaving, on a jet plane posted Jan 12, 2009
Day 1: The Herc posted Jan 15, 2009
Day 1: Penguino posted Jan 16, 2009
Day 2: Chicken posted Jan 17, 2009
Day 2: Leopard posted Jan 19, 2009
Day 2: Snow Day posted Jan 22, 2009
Day 2: Shipwreck posted Jan 26, 2009
Day 2: Totally Tabular posted Jan 27, 2009
Day 3: Gentoo Cute posted Jan 29, 2009
Day 3: Lichen Shag Glacier posted Feb 3, 2009
Day 3: Palmer Station Visit posted Feb 9, 2009
Day 4: Icy Penguins posted Feb 11, 2009
Day 4: Adelie Awesome posted Feb 15, 2009
Day 4: Leopard Seal Attack posted Feb 17, 2009
Day 4: Kayak posted Feb 19, 2009
Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit posted Feb 23, 2009
Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset posted Feb 25, 2009
Day 5: Antarctic Circle posted Feb 27, 2009
Day 5: Polar Plunge posted Mar 5, 2009
Day 5: Mouth of The Gullet posted Mar 13, 2009
Day 5: Ice Camping posted Mar 18, 2009
Day 6: Flamingos on Ice posted Mar 20, 2009
Day 6: Mountain Climbing posted Mar 24, 2009
Day 6: Ice Textures posted Mar 26, 2009
» Day 6: Antarctic New Years posted Apr 2, 2009
Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker posted Apr 9, 2009
Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 1 posted Apr 17, 2009
Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2 posted Apr 21, 2009
Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands posted Apr 23, 2009
Day 8: Icee Day - Part 1 posted May 5, 2009
Day 8: Icee Day - Part 2 posted May 11, 2009
Day 9: Port Lockroy - Base A posted May 20, 2009
Bonus Chapter: Baby Penguins! posted May 21, 2009
Day 9: Antarctic Humpback Whales posted June 3, 2009
Day 9: Dallmann Butt Sliding posted June 11, 2009
Day 10: Birthday Whales posted June 23, 2009
Day 10: Hannah Point Part 1: The Birds posted July 15, 2009
Day 10: Hannah Point Part 2: Elephant Seals posted July 22, 2009
Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon posted Dec 11, 2009
Day 10: Deception Island - Part 2: The Martian Chronicles of Oz posted Dec 15, 2009
Day 11: Emperor Penguins posted Jan 8, 2010
Day 12: Black and White and Pink All Over posted Aug 4, 2011
More chapters posted every few days...
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