Antarctic Fox
The log of Rachel and Kevin Fox's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula in the Summer of 2008-9
Day 2: Chicken
December 27 - Murray Harbor, in the Antarctic Peninsula

Our first morning in Antarctica! Overnight we had set sail from the Shetland Islands to the Antarctic Peninsula by crossing the Bransfield Strait. Sailing from the islands to the mainland we lost our protection from the currents of the Drake Passage and so it was a rough night (by our standards). Midway through the night I needed to get up and clear everything from the tables and shelves, lest they slide off the desk next to my bed and on to my head (again). Actually it was pretty impressive: A bowl of fruit rolled across the desk and hit me in the head on one swing, and on the backswing the whole bowl and most of the fruit rolled right back off the bed and into the trash can (along with my neck gaiter and a few other things). All in all it was a great night to assess the efficacy of the various anti-seasickness meds our group had brought with them, but by morning it was all shoved out of mind by the incredible views we were granted when we made it on deck.

Sun Kissed Snow

Sun Kissed Snow - Passing a beautiful glacier-topped mountain kissed by the snow. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Entering the Ice aka Everyday is Silent and Grey

Entering the Ice aka Everyday is Silent and Grey - Beautiful view from the boat of the hills, glaciers, ocean and this bergy bit. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Beauty from the Bow

Beauty from the Bow - The bow of our boat, the Hanse Explorer where we did a lot of scenery watching and photography! - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Unlike the King George Island, all around us we were treated to glaciers and multi-year snowpacks casting the whole landscape into a white-aqua blanket, cracked here and there with deep blue crevasses. Conversely, the sea was dotted with ice of every size.

Our first morning activity quickly gave us an unexpected insight not only into the character of our Captain and his ship, but also into the differences between a 'cruise' and an 'expedition'. Sailing down the Antarctic mainland, we were going to explore a small harbor called Murray Harbor by the whalers who would sail past it in the 1920s. Murray Harbor's northern point of entry is virtually uncharted. It has only a single line of depth readings, made by a ship more than 50 years ago sans such niceties as GPS or depth-sonar. While the readings are probably accurate, we'd have to stay in that line to take advantage of them. Whoo!

Glacial Edge

Glacial Edge - Edge of a glacier. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Puckered Hillside

Puckered Hillside - The top of a glacier covering a hill beside the water. The texture is made by giant crevasses in the ice. The snow still tends to cover the top of the crevasse hiding it to the eye until the gap becomes too large or weather changes things so that the covering starts to buckle and created this puckered look. There are many crevasses in this area. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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The passage was narrow and afforded some striking views of glaciers on either side. After we made it southward through the narrow passage we were treated to a wonderfully placid harbor sparkled with bergy bits and dominated by an aging tabular iceberg at the east end of the harbor:

Beautiful Berg

Beautiful Berg - A beautiful aging tabular ice berg. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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The captain asked us if we'd like to take a closer look at the berg, and of course we said yes, so we could take shots like these:

Ice Berg Hoo....

Ice Berg Hoo.... - Approaching a beautiful ice berg on the bow of our ship. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Layers

Layers - This is an aging tabular ice berg. When a large ice berg first breaks off from a glacier it comes off in a very harsh rectangular shape. Over time of drifting through the ocean the ice berg will be weathered by wind and water. The lower part of this berg has been warn under by the waves. We will talk more about the life cycle of ice bergs in later posts. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Getting even closer, we started to get a bit worried. Icebergs are dangerous, right? We shouldn't get too close, right?

I Can Almost Touch...

I Can Almost Touch... - Brian teasingly reaching out for the ice berg. Little did we know that touching the ice berg was exactly what Captain Martin intended. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Okay Martin (err, 'Captain'), that's awesome, but we don't have any lens that could capture the whole berg this close, so we're close enough, right? Wrong.

Isn't This How Titanic Sank?

Isn't This How Titanic Sank? - Luckily we inched closer and closer with the captain taking soundings the whole way and made sure we were safe from this huge and beautiful ice berg. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Breakaway

Breakaway - The textured face of an aging tabular ice berg. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Ice Curve

Ice Curve - A closer look at the lower part of the exposed ice berg. It has been weathered by waves and wind making the ice cut in and giving it that puckered golf ball like texture. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Below the Surface

Below the Surface - The wave weathered bottom of the exposed portion of this ice berg. The gradient color of the water is showing a section of the underwater ice berg and it descends deeper. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Towering Over Us

Towering Over Us - The guy closest on the left is one of the bridge crew. He is watching the water, berg and boat to signal to the captain if he is getting too close. We are all just amazed and being so close to the ice berg, and we kept getting closer. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Martin apparently didn't think it was a bad idea to play Chicken with a grounded iceberg. As the bow of the ship gently struck the side of the berg, I think it's only fair to call it a tie.

Frozen Hand?

Frozen Hand? - Peng excited about touching his first ice berg - or possibly his hand is stuck. We can't tell. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Grab that Berg

Grab that Berg - Rachel wanted to bring this ice berg home for her dad, but it wouldn't fit in the boat. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Icicle Edge

Icicle Edge - A look at the textures, patterns and shapes made by the weathering of ice bergs. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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No Wait!

No Wait! - Alan is missing the ice berg already as we begin to pull away. You can see the scrap marks below Alan's arm that were made as our captain inched us closer till we tapped the berg. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Seriously. Martin took the ship right to the berg. You can see the scrape marks it left!

Ice Tongue

Ice Tongue - The blue ice below the water sticking out further than the top does is called the tongue of the ice berg. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Traveling Along the Ice Berg

Traveling Along the Ice Berg - The view as we are leaving this aging tabular ice berg. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Coming off the bow and on to the Bridge, Rachel says to the Captain "You're crazy! That was awesome!" and the first mate replies back "That's the best compliment you can give a captain."

It was only our first morning on the ship and already our expectations were being reset.

Read the next chapter: Day 2: Leopard


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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