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.

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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!

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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:

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Seriously. Martin took the ship right to the berg. You can see the scrape marks it left!

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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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