||64°48.8’S / 063°29.8’W
After the blue skies of the previous afternoon, we were greeted by a more overcast morning as we anchored in Dorian Bay for our landing at Damoy Point. Following on from our usual morning spread at breakfast, we got ready to join our expedition team ashore and our first experience of snowshoes.
With our snowshoes fastened, some of us joined Expedition Leader Ali for a hike up onto the ridge above the huts to the site of the old British runway. Two huts sit at the landing site, one an old Argentine refuge hut and the other a British Antarctic Survey (BAS) hut which was used as a ‘waiting room’ for incoming staff travelling further south via plane. Neither hut is used today, but a small team was ashore carrying out renovation work of the BAS hut, which is being restored to its previous colour of orangey yellow.
While many of us took the circular hike up to the previous landing site on the ridge, some of us enjoyed the wildlife at the lower section of the loop. There were plenty of Gentoo penguins nesting in separate rookeries and a couple of Weddell Seals hauled out on the snowy shore. It was definitely a different experience snowshoeing, with maybe some of us enjoying it more than others.
Once everybody was back onboard, we made the short steam around the corner to our next landing site at Goudier Island. The island is home to a small team from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) who operate a museum, post office and shop. Originally another BAS station (‘Base A’) set up in 1946 under Operation Tabarin, it is now managed as an historic site by the UKAHT and the main building, Bransfield House, is used as the museum and shop.
After another great buffet lunch, we were treated to a presentation by some of the UKAHT staff running the site about the history of Port Lockroy before we ourselves made our way ashore to explore. The wind had a picked up a little since the morning, so unfortunately our original plan had to be changed slightly and we instead made 3 ‘waves’ of visits to Port Lockroy. This gave us all plenty of time to discover the great museum and the
preserved Bransfield House before most of us got to spend some of our hard-earned pennies in the shop and post a few postcards to our loved ones back home.
Port Lockroy is only a small island and we got to enjoy some close encounters with the nesting Gentoos ashore, some of which had tiny little chicks. A few of us were also lucky to glimpse a Leopard Seal as we returned to Plancius, a key predator of the Gentoo penguins. There had also been several Leopard Seals hauled out on ice floes as we first entered the bay approaching Port Lockroy.
With all the shopping and posting done for the day, we hastily heaved anchored and looked for some shelter for the evening’s surprise Antarctic dinner. Following on from our usual evening recap, we were informed that dinner would be served out on deck as a BBQ. Despite the colder temperatures, many of us braved the outside to eat our food, especially with some good sightings of Humpback Whales nearby. Under the shadow of massive peaks at the entrance to the Lemaire Channel we all reflected on a great day with full bellies, and even a few of us enjoyed a good dance on the aft deck as the sun set.
Again we had the luxury of a day with no wind. We paddled along the coast and after a while we saw an ice flow with a seal on a few hundred meters out in the bay. We paddle out there and on the ice laid a big Leopard Seal. Around this ice Flow we had a long show of nature. Rafts of penguins, Antarctic Minkie whale swimming around us and the leopard Seal almost interacted with us