PLA30-24, trip log, Antarctica - Polar Circle

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia – Embarkation Day

Ushuaia – Embarkation Day
Datum: 25.02.2024
Positie: 54° 55.6’S / 67° 25.4’W
Wind: W-4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +11

Eventually our departure day to the Antarctic Peninsula had arrived and a bit earlier than 16:00 we were queuing in front of the gangway that would lead us to the Little Blue Ship. Amongst the other giants that were moored in the port of Ushuaia, it looked like a Cinderella with her blue and white coloration. Perhaps not majestic but surely a very reliable and sturdy ship to explore the Polar regions.

At the top of the gangway we were greeted by the enthusiastic members of the expedition team, and the hotel manager quickly checked us in. There was not a lot of time to relax as at 17:30 a mandatory safety drill was scheduled so our presence in the lounge was required. We were first welcomed by expedition leader Claudio and then the chief officer Romanas guided us through a safety video and the drill procedure. Before we knew it, we all sat in the lounge wearing our big and bulky orange life vests and when we heard the abandon ship alarm we all made our way outside to the life boats where the second officer, Don, informed us further. With the ship freed of the mooring lines, we left the city at the end of the world behind our stern and started our long journey South. Captain Ernesto came down to the lounge where he greeted us with a glass of Italian Prosecco, while speaking some warm welcome words. Claudio followed with more information about the program and the planning for the days ahead.

Soon it was time for dinner. The galley team had prepared a delicious buffet and the dining room was buzzing with excitement. As the evening creeped in we plied our route to the Eastern section of the Beagle channel, eventually getting into the open waters of the Drake passage.

The fun had just begun!!

Day 2: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Datum: 26.02.2024
Positie: 57° 14.8’S / 63° 36.0’W
Wind: W-3
Weer: Part. Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +5

The morning in the Drake started with a gentle rolling and a calm sea. Overnight we had exited the southeastern end of the Beagle channel and had started our voyage down South with a straight 170 bearing.

Heading towards the restaurant the overall atmosphere was quite different from last night, however, the majority of us was queuing for a delicious breakfast.

Shortly after we were invited to join Claudio and the rest of the Expedition Staff for a quick introduction, followed by the mandatory IAATO briefing. This introduction was meant to overseeing rules and regulations for visiting the White Continent. Some of the most important parts are safety distance from wildlife and avoiding introducing invasive species into the continent.

In order to breath some fresh air a walk up to the bridge was a must. Here we were welcomed by our friendly captain and the smiley and sociable officers who were eager to share with us their knowledge and experience in the polar regions.

The day was gorgeous with an intense blue sky dotted here and there by thin alto cumulus. Wind conditions were ideal for observing and photographing, massive seabirds such as Black-browed, White chinned petrels and beautiful Light-mantled Sooty gliding past the ship. These birds belonging to the order of the Procellariiformes are adapted for living at sea. Massive wingspans and high Lift-to-drag ratio allow them to fly with the minimum use of energy, while being a tube-nose helps to find the right direction and intensity of the wind to harness its power.

Lunch was followed by a restful nap, before the lounge was filled up with excitement when Marco introduced us with a captivating talk, to the unique world of the White Continent and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Later in the afternoon we had our first official Recap. Claudio presented the plans for the next day together with the weather forecast and afterwards Carina, Steffi and Koen intervened with topics related to the opening of the Drake passage, the Antarctic convergence and the birdlife we had seen during the day.

In the end a day filled with new information and a great preparation to get ready for our first landing in Antarctica. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be as compliant as today and our sea legs will improve.

Day 3: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Datum: 27.02.2024
Positie: 61° 47.5’S / 64° 00.5’W
Wind: NW-4
Weer: Part. Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +4

On our third day of the expedition to the Antarctic Circle, the sea and wind conditions continued to cooperate. M/V Plancius kept on steaming on the way South across the Drake passage at a good and constant pace of 11.5-11.8 knots. That on the ground would be roughly the speed of a cycling trip, however across the waves and swell of the Southern ocean it meant for us all quite an adventurous speed.

After a good breakfast and a small stroll outside the outer decks to enjoy some fresh air; the expedition team handed us over the Muckboots that we will be using during the next week in the Antarctic Peninsula. That was followed half an hour later by the Biosecurity process during which we were asked to clean and vacuum all our outer layers (jacket, pants, boots, backpacks, poles, beanies and gloves) that we were intending to use during the landings in Antarctica. This is a mandatory process required by IAATO to avoid introducing invasive species into the White Continent.

Meanwhile outside we started to observe the first icebergs in the distance, however birdlife was still poor due to the lack of wind. A few black-browed albatrosses, some Cape and Blue Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrel. A toll to pay to have a Drake lake.

Lunch was followed by Koen’s Photography lecture and immediately after the galley team surprised us offer gelato in the bow whilst enjoy the comfortable breeze.

Marco and Valeria gave their briefing for those brave travelers willing to join them for an overnight stay in the continent, and eventually it was time for the Recap.

Claudio presented us with the plans for the next day; Koen talked about baleen whales migration, Marco about the wind patterns we could experience while crossing the Drake and everything was wrapped up by Steffi explaining the way albatrosses are able to harness wind energy to fly for free.

The restaurant was buzzing with excitement of our first day in Antarctica and we couldn’t be more thankful to Chef Ivan and the galley team for yet an amazing dinner.

Day 4: Melchior Islands and Damoy Point

Melchior Islands and Damoy Point
Datum: 28.02.2024
Positie: 64° 29.7’S / 62° 52.2’W
Wind: VAR-1
Weer: Rainy
Luchttemperatuur: +2

The day started with a delicious breakfast, and an amazing announcement from our expedition leader, Claudio. WELCOME TO ANTARCTICA!! From our portholes and windows we could see our destination for the morning activity: Melchior Islands!

The Melchior Islands are a group of many low, ice-covered islands lying near the center of Dallmann Bay in the Palmer Archipelago off the West coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. These islands were first seen but left unnamed by a German expedition under Eduard Dallmann, 1873–74 on board of the whaling boat Groenland. The islands were resighted and roughly charted by the Third French Antarctic Expedition under Jean-Baptiste Charcot, 1903–05. Charcot named what he believed to be the large easternmost island in the group "Île Melchior" after Vice Admiral Jules Melchior of the French Navy, but later surveys proved Charcot's Île Melchior to be two islands, now called Eta Island and Omega Island.

The morning was quite wet, with low but constant precipitation; however this did not discouraged us from going outside on our first zodiac cruise. We had the chance to see beautiful icebergs with incredible shapes, a lot of Fur Seals, just swimming, napping or “fighting” among each other. Besides, the Melchior archipelago harbored some of the first infrastructures built in the Antarctic Peninsula in representation of territorial claims. Here it is where Argentina in 1942 built the first lighthouse, followed by a Naval base named “Base Melchior” in 1947.

While lunch was served, M/V Plancius sailed through the narrow Neumayer channel, a narrow passage between Anvers and Wiencke islands and after noon, we arrived at our next destination: Damoy Point had been chosen for our first steps in Antarctica.

Damoy Point is a headland 900 meters west-northwest of Flag Point, the northern entrance point to the harbour of Port Lockroy. Another place discovered and named by Charcot. Here we landed and started a nice hike up to Tombstone hill where we encountered our first rockery of Gentoo penguins. We followed the marked path downhill and approached Damoy Hut. Damoy hit is a well-preserved hut containing scientific equipment and other artifacts; It was built in 1973 and used for several years as a British summer air facility and transit station for scientific personnel. It was last occupied in 1993. It has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 84).

To finish our first day at Antarctica an amazing ship cruise through the Lemaire Channel. As we sail through Lemaire Channel, we enjoyed a spartan wilderness of snow and ice amid rugged peaks rising 1,000 meters high. These incredible landscaping gave us a perfect end for our first day in the white continent.

Day 5: Fish Islands and Antarctic Polar Circle

Fish Islands and Antarctic Polar Circle
Datum: 29.03.2024
Positie: 66° 00.5’S / 65° 24.6’W
Wind: NW-4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +1

We started the day with a lovely surprise; Claudio told us that we made excellent progress throughout the night and will be arriving earlier at the Fish Islands. This made it possible for us to do a Zodiac cruise around Perch and Flounder Islands. Therefore, right after breakfast everybody was invited to be ready at 09:00 to head out and explore the waters around.

Our first find of the morning were a bunch of Adelie penguins that were moulting on a small rocky outcrop. There was also a Weddell Seal haul out and some boats saw a leopard seal swim around. After we made our way around Perch Island where we found a lot of brash ice in a bay. Here there were many stunning crystal-clear growlers floating around looking like diamonds. Small groups of around 3 to 4 crabeater seals were swimming through the brash ice coming up in the wake of our zodiacs. Further towards the main land of Antarctica there were some concrete pillars that were left over from an old research station, Base J, built in Prospect Point in the 1956 for meteorological and oceanographic studies.

The cruise kept on following shorelines of the islands and some zodiacs had found some leopard seals swimming that were getting quite close to the zodiacs. Not long after a snowstorm started to come in a natural turn around point was created to get safely back to the ship. Perfectly timed.

For the afternoon we had no activity planned outside of the ship as we had to make our way down south to get across the Polar Circle. A moment that many people had been looking forward to and something that not many people get to do in life. As we were going to cross the Antarctic Circle around Recap time Claudio had moved it to 4 o’clock in the afternoon to announce the plans for the following day. We also had time for some of the guides to explain some subjects in more detail. Steffi talked about the breeding cycle of the Brush tailed Penguins (Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins). Marco explained us about the life of Icebergs; and conveniently for him a giant tabular iceberg just floated by at the time he started to give a good example. Clara explained the colours in the snow. Not about the yellow colour but the pink and green colours. Snow algae that have quite an interesting life cycle. As last KJ gave us an introduction about the research station in Antarctica.

Just before 18:00 we were all invited to the lounge to celebrate the Antarctic Polar Circle. The bar had prepared glasses of Prosecco for everybody and as decoration large pieces of ice were laid out around the bar for a real Antarctic feeling. Some of the staff members also had prepared a picture frame with lots of funny details on it. This way everybody was able to take a photo inside the bar after we had crossed the Circle. This was quite useful as the wind was blowing really hard outside. Some did take a photo outside in the sunshine but were soon blown back inside.

A great celebration for an exceptional latitude to cross. The Hotel Manager Ingrid told us that there would be a happy hour after dinner in the bar to keep on celebrating. We were happily surprised with an amazing sunset in the Isacke Passage near to the Gullet. This giant bay gave us an incredible 360 view over the Arrowsmith peninsula and its nearby islands. The weather was perfect with high lenticular clouds and little wind that was very comfortable to enjoy a stunning sunset with the company of a few Humpback whales.

Together with the happy hour people were out till quite late for a very good reason. This warm or really quite cold welcome within the polar circle gave us a incredible start of this part of our expedition.

Day 6: Hanusse Bay and Detaille Island

Hanusse Bay and Detaille Island
Datum: 01.03.2024
Positie: 66° 57.4’S / 67° 21.9’W
Wind: VAR-1
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: 0

Another day in paradise – it was an early morning wakeup call, as we were hoping to see the most beautiful sunrise deep south in Antarctica. The light was stunning but sadly it was cloudy, so we missed the red and purple colors (which we then got the next day) but it was still a breathtaking scenery. We were sailing to our southernmost point of our voyage – to Hanusse bay.

After breakfast it was time for a Zodiac cruise to explore this bay. During our Zodiac cruise we could go even more South. Right after the beginning of our operations we already saw the first blows. The whales were around – a lot of humpbacks were in the area next to those amazing icebergs. We could observe them surfacing (logging) and sometimes even fluking. We moved on across a thick layer of brash ice, occasionally stopping and glancing at some Antarctic Fur seals or Crabeater seals who were resting on ice floes. Eventually when the ice stopped our course South we detoured and found ourselves yet again surrounded by Humpback whales. It was a wonderful start of the day.

After we returned from our cruise the lunch was waiting for us and the ship was sailing already a bit back North and then East to our next destination – Detaille Island. Detaille Island is situated in the entrance of Lallemand Fjord. It was the place chosen in 1956 to build a summer research station during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). For three years a group of 12 scientist occupied the base, carrying on geological and topographic surveys of the area, as well as meteorological and oceanographical measurements.

Base W was then abandon at the end of the summer 1959 due to the persistent presence of sea ice in the bay which impeded the supply ship to get to the base. The base commander gave the order to evacuate using dogs and dog sledges across the sea ice. Since then everything has been untouched. Base W is now owned by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKHAT) and they maintained it during this summer for visitors.

Right after Lunch we were able to do a split landing and Zodiac cruise. As the Island is not so big, it’s only allowed to bring 50 visitors at a time ashore. So some of us went first on a Zodiac cruise before they went ashore. We saw a lot of different pinnipeds: Antarctic Fur seals, Weddell Seals and Crabeater Seals. Also some Adelie Penguin were spotted uphill moulting.

On land after a steep slope up towards the hut, it was time to go back to 1950th to have a look inside the hut to see how the scientist lived there. After the entrance there was a workshop and a little office with a bed. In the corridor there were some skies and some cabinets with food in there. We found some old coffee, HP-Sauce and other cans with food. In the living room there were still some empty alcohol bottles, and a very old sleeping bag. In the bag of the hut there was the kitchen, the toilet, the radio station and a little office with some measurements taken by the scientist during their stay.

After discovering this hut we could go for a little stroll around the island. The scenery was stunning as we were surrounded by icebergs of all colours and shapes. The dinner was buffet tonight, then the day wasn’t over yet. There were 40 brave campers going back to Detaille Island to enjoy a night under the stars in a sleeping bag (no tents needed). So after dinner at 8:30pm the campers got picked up and went ashore for their adventure. All the others were enjoying the colourful sunset and a drink in the bar.

A memorable overnight stay was done in Detaille island, the Southernmost of this season for the guides on board of M/V Plancius. During the night the silence was often interrupted by a distant rumble when here and there chunks of ice the size of a automobile were calving off bigger icebergs, making the experience even more memorable. When the night fell upon us and right before the moon started to cast its light in the horizon, the Southern Cross together with a few others constellations of the southern hemisphere, popped out.

Day 7: Crystal Sound and Cape Tuxen

Crystal Sound and Cape Tuxen
Datum: 02.03.2024
Positie: 66° 05.2’S / 66° 05.7’W
Wind: SW-3
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +2

For at least half of us, the campers it was a very special early morning wakeup call because they had to come back to the ship after spending a night on Detaille Island. The Campers had spent a great time on land, with clear sky, no wind at all, surrounded by icebergs. Some of those icebergs broke apart with big noises during the quite night. Beside that we enjoyed the Antarctic silence. All returned to the ship and our reliable M/V Plancius started to sail North. We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and later on the blue sky. All of us who stayed on the ship for the night had the possibility to sleep longer, however most enjoyed the early morning scenery as well.

The passage we use used for sailing North is called Crystal Sound, a scenic in most parts protected area. Huge icebergs, calm sea and in the background the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula with its impressive piedmont glaciers and pristine snowfields. In the area we had a lot of Humpback whales making the cruise even more interesting.

Our expedition team offered us a lecture in the morning about marine mammals while we sailed north to our next destinations. We passed massive icebergs and thanks to the great weather conditions we could observe a lot of Humpback whales feeding or cruising alongside the ship.

The outside decks were bursting with life right after lunch when a delicate cruise into the Mudge passage led to the entrance of the Grandidier channel. This area was extensively explored and surveyed by the French polar explorer Jean Baptiste Charcot who led two Antarctic expeditions in the area. The second of this on board of the sailing boat Porquoi-Pas during the year 1908-1910, after the party had wintered in Petermann island, they led an exploratory voyage into the Grandidier channel and Marguerite Bay.

The first expedition led by Charcot on board of the schooner Francais explored for the first time the area where we did our Continental landing. Cape Tuxen is jagged and rocky promontory located right in front of the Argentine islands, at the very Northern stretch of the Grandidier channel. So far we landed only on islands, so this short noticed activity was something special. It was a landing on rocks, right next to a Gentoo Penguin rookery and numerous South Polar Skuas.

A special dinner on board of M/V Plancius had been prepared by the fantastic galley and restaurant team. It was time for a delicious BBQ party on the outside decks while cruising in the Lemaire Channel. We could have not asked for a better place to do this. It was absolutely amazing light during the sunset and we even met Minke and Humpback whales in the channel. During the night we continued sailing north in calm waters.

Day 8: Wilhelmina Bay and Cierva Cove

Wilhelmina Bay and Cierva Cove
Datum: 03.03.2024
Positie: 64° 34.3’S / 61° 57.8’W
Wind: NW-1
Weer: Part Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +1

Good morning Plancius! Another windless day, although today it led to a very foggy morning and this jeopardized our operations. With poor to no visibility we cannot operate and on top of that we simply won’t see much during our zodiac cruise. We decided to be patient and hope for the sun to use its warmth and burn the fog away. The area Claudio had picked up for the zodiac activity was Wilhelmina bay. This bay was named by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition led by Adrien de Gerlach, after the then ruling queen of the Netherlands. A bit strange you might say, but it was the Dutch government that supported this expedition whereas the Belgian government didn’t do so. This bay also has a nick name, it is often full with whales and as such it is not uncommon to hear the name “Whale-mina”.

While we enjoyed breakfast, the sun did just that. We were about to leave in search of fog free areas when all of a sudden the fog lifted. We were treated with the most stunning landscapes and in the distance we could observe whale exhaling. Time to get ready for a now already legendary zodiac cruise. Once we were on the water, we found whales in good numbers so all zodiacs had their ‘own’ whales. Some whales were resting like logs in a river and only their regular breathing reminded us they were truly alive. Some other zodiacs had whales that were a bit more curious and they even decided to check us out from very close vicinity. We could look the whales in the eyes and seeing these intelligent and gentle giants from up close is just an incredible experience. Some of us risked damaging their expensive phones by filming underwater, but they were rewarded with some amazing videos. Humpback whales might not be the largest whales, but they are definitely the most charismatic ones. Together with no wind, stunning sceneries and a friendly and warm sun, the morning could not have been better.

In the afternoon we prepared for another zodiac cruise. Yet again it would become a legendary one… We received information from another ship that the bay was full with whales, but instead of whales, we found large numbers of Weddell and Leopard seals. Our AEL Steffi mentioned on the radio the presence of a friendly leopard seal, but moments later the leopard was chasing a Chinstrap penguin and the friendliness had disappeared.

Unfortunately the chinstrap was unable to escape the leopard seal and soon it was tossed around. Leopard seals do not necessarily kill their prey and today this was the case. It was tossing the penguin around to remove its skin and feathers, but while this was happening we could clearly see the poor penguin still being alive. This process went on for maybe more than 10 minutes before the leopard seal had eaten the skinless penguin that finally had found its peace.

After this brutal yet intriguing display of nature, we decided to check out the chinstrap colony and have a look at Primavera Base. On the way we found more Weddell seals and leopard seals, while the sun was slowly setting coloring the sky with beautiful and soft pastel colors. The way back to ship was fun, lots of brash ice forced us to zig zag our way through. What a fantastic day we had today with lots of photo opportunities and unforgettable moments.

Day 9: Deception Island and Fort Point (Greenwich Island)

Deception Island and Fort Point (Greenwich Island)
Datum: 04.03.2024
Positie: NE-2
Wind: 62° 46.6’S / 60° 03.3’W
Weer: Par. Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: 0

At 6:15 we were listening to the lovely voice of Claudio telling us we were approaching the entrance of Deception Island. An active volcano with a shape of a doughnut, or something else depending on your imagination. M/V Plancius was pointing its bow towards the only narrow passage that connects the outer waters of the Bransfield strait with the calm sea of Port Foster. This entrance is called “Neptue’s bellows” and it’s only possible to cross it on the east side of it. On the left side there is a rock and this was discovered by another ship which hit it.

Deception Island is one of the most active volcanos of Antarctica and over the past century it had undergone several eruptions, the most recent ones happened in 1969-70. It is located on the Bransfield basin, where over the last 4 million years rifting (of a rate of 10mm/year) has caused the opening of the Bransfield Strait, together with persistent volcanism in the area. The rifting is connected to trench-rollback which is related to the adjacent subduction zone. The volcanism is mainly below sea level but three of these volcanic centers make it above sea level: Deception, Penguin and Bridgeman islands. These islands form the youngest emerging land of the South Shetland archipelago.

Our landing for the morning was Telefon Bay, named after the whaling ship that used to be moored in this bay during the summer season. Located about 9km on the northeastern shore of Port Foster, we set foot on the ashy and rocky landscape of Deception island; a drastic change compared to the snowy terrain of the past days. A short hike led us to the ridge of a lateral moraine carved out by glacier erosion; from here we appreciated the dark layers of different eruptive events deposited on the ice over the past decades, and a very unique glacier feature, several pyramidal cones of ice and snow that gets covered with insulated debris material ejected from the bottom or the side of a glacier.

The trail led us up on the rim of a small cinder cone, one of the many that dotted the inner part of Port Foster. From here we could enjoy a nice view of the whole caldera with the two research bases of Gabriel de Castilla and Deception looming on the horizon across the bay. Back at the shoreline the traditional Polar Plunge started right away. The water temperature was around 2 Celsius as well as the air temperature. It was a nice refreshment and then we headed back to the ship and out of Deception Island to our afternoon activities.

Back onboard we could enjoy a Brunch with Fish ’n’ chips and a lot of fruits. And after a bit of rest the expedition staff went out to check the landing site. They found a lot of Antarctic Fur seals, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. So because of the density of the wildlife the decision was easily made to split the landing into a cruise and a landing.

Ashore we could see a lot of Gentoo Penguins molting and fledging, as well some Chinstrap Penguins walking around. The Fur seals were making their noises and fighting a lot to become stronger for the upcoming mating season in November. During the cruise we were really lucky to even see a Macaroni Penguin standing on top of a rock. A little king. It was an excitement for all of us (included the expedition staff). And then the moment came we were a bit sad, we had to go back to the ship and say goodbye to Antarctica. Sailing back into the Drake passage towards Ushuaia.

Day 10: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Datum: 05.03.2024
Positie: 59° 33.3’S / 62° 23.5’W
Wind: NW-6
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Claudio did our last wake-up call at 7:45 and at 8:00 breakfast was ready in the dinning room. It was our first day on the Drake passage, going back to Ushuaia. The swell was bigger than when we first cross it 10 days ago, but we could still cope with it.

Around 9:30 Carina, gave us a talk on Penguins. With her beautiful pictures, she told us all about the 4 species of penguins that we saw in Antarctica: Adelie, Chinstraps, Gentoo and Macaroni! She told us about the breeding cycles, distribution, some fun facts on mating and swimming speeds, they can swim up to 35km/h! She also told us about a fifth species on Penguins in Antarctica, the Emperor Penguins, those are on our list for our next trip to the Weddell Sea!

At 11:00 Koen (KJ), gave a very interesting talk on polar explorers. He introduced us to the exploring fever of those times, researchers, explorers, great sailors all attempting to have their names written in the history books. We could barely imagine being in these latitudes with wooden sail boats, on wool and leather garments, so impressive!

At midday, we went for lunch that our head chef Ivan and all the gally team had kindly prepared for us. As the swell increased and Plancius was pitching more, the movement was ideal for lying in bed for a siesta or a movie, so we slowly started disappearing from the lounge.

At 15:30 Clara, one of the dive guides, gave a talk on Plankton, tiny but mighty creatures. She also told us about the impact of climate change on diversity of phytoplankton and life cycles and distribution of krill. Her lecture gave a lot of information on plankton, key for Antarctic food webs, and alerted us on the urgence of thinking and pursuing systemic solutions for reverting climate change.

After Clara’s talk, at 18:15 Claudio and the expedition team gave the daily recap. Claudio showed us the weather forecast for our last day in the Drake and Steffi, Koen and KJ gave us our last mini lectures on Antarctic Fur seals, Whales and Penguins.

Finally, plated dinner was served in the Dining Room and as the movement increased, we all went to bed. A day at sea, nonetheless interesting!

Day 11: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Datum: 06.03.2024
Positie: 56° 16.9’S / 65° 45.4’W
Wind: NE-5
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +8

We awoke for our final day of navigation on board of M/V Plancius accompanied by the hammering noise of the persistent pitching movement of the ship. Overnight the wind had decreased its intensity, however, around 5 am gales of 28-30 knots started to buffet the poor ship from the Northeast and the pitching was resumed.

Breakfast was a bit more noisy than the previous morning, although still quiet compared to the activity days in the Peninsula. Soon after the expedition team collected our boots and waterproof bags that had been lent us over for the trip. At 11am sharp, Michael gave us an interesting lecture about the whaling era and the impact it had in the Antarctic waters; followed by the usual delicious lunch.

A lazy afternoon creeped in whilst the protected waters of Tierra del Fuego were getting closer; a good time to listen to Alexis sharing his passion for the nowadays disappeared indigenous tribes of the southernmost islands of South America. The Yamanas people were nomadic canoers who roamed the waters of the Beagle channel and Tierra del Fuego for several thousand years before the contact with Western Europeans settlers wiped them out.

We gathered for a final time in the lounge for our Captains farewell. After a rousing speech, the captain offered a toast to this incredible voyage and Claudio thanked the team and crew for their efforts. The festivities finished with a beautiful slideshow – a fitting memory of a truly amazing Antarctic voyage beyond the Polar Circle. Meanwhile M/V Plancius had reached the calm and protected waters of the Beagle channel, and she was lingering around waiting for the pilot to come aboard and finally escorting us to the port of Ushuaia.

Day 12: Ushuaia - Disembarkation Day

Ushuaia - Disembarkation Day
Datum: 07.03.2024
Positie: 54° 48.6’S / 68° 17.’W
Wind: VAR
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +14

With our bags packed and left outside our doors for the staff to collect, we enjoyed our final hearty breakfast from the galley team. Following breakfast, we disembarked and said goodbye to Claudio and the rest of the fantastic team who had accompanied us down South. Whilst many of us leave with some sadness, we are grateful to be back on solid ground and with our hearts full of fond memories and unforgettable experiences from our exploration of the Antarctica Peninsula.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, but most of all for joining us on this adventurous Antarctic Polar Circle voyage. We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be!

Total distance sailed: 1970 nautical miles

Farthest South: 66°58,6’S / 67°24.3’W

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Ernesto Barria, Expedition Leader Claudio Ghiglione and his team, Hotel Manager Ingrid Van der Loo, and all the crew and staff of M/V Plancius, it has been a pleasure traveling with you!


Reiscode: PLA30-24
Reisdatum: 25 feb. - 7 mrt., 2024
Duur: 11 nachten
Schip: m/v Plancius
Inscheping: Ushuaia
Ontscheping: Ushuaia

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