Peninsula Antarctica Days 3 and 4 Trip Report

Lemaire Channel

On Feb 8 After we retrieved the campers. Plancius steams south for the Lemaire Channel – a narrow body of water between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island that has the rightful reputation of being one of the most beautiful places in the Antarctic. As we navigate south the channel narrows to less than 600 metres as the protruding mountains on either side seem to close in on the ship.

Port Charcot

By mid-morning we arrived at Port Charcot, our first destination for the day and the site where Jean-Baptiste Charcot overwintered with his crew aboard the Francais on his first expedition in 1904. Those who went ashore enjoyed a beautiful hike to a high point with vast views of the Wilhelm Archipelago, as well as the opportunity to see three types of bush tail penguins (Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adélie) in the same location. The sea kayakers got a different perspective from the water, as they navigated around large grounded icebergs and had four interested Minke whales join them for some of their paddle.

In the afternoon we navigated to the furthest point south of our expedition – Vernadsky Station on the Argentine Islands.

Ukraine bought the station, once a British Antarctic Survey base called Faraday Station, in 1996 and renamed it to Vernadsky Station. We met there the station’s scientists who gave us a tour of the facilities, including the beautiful British-style bar! It was interesting to get the chance to see a working scientific station in the Antarctic, and fascinating to imagine the scientists spending the year and overwintering together in the small confines of the base. As the base is not very big, our group split up and while some went directly to the station, others went to an old British base nearby called Wordie House before the groups swapped locations. Wordie House was the first British base on the Peninsula, and it has recently been beautifully restored to its historical condition by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

On Feb 9 we were shuttled ashore at Petermann Island, the historic site of Charcots second expedition to the peninsula. Although the morning was overcast with high clouds muting the surrounding vista the sun occasionally shone through, adding a brief touch of brilliance to an otherwise drab landscape. We enjoyed the walk across the island to visit the Adelie penguins, whose numbers are dwindling yearly due to the changing conditions. We also took the chance to spy out some Antarctic cormorants before wandering to the southern end of the island where Sebastian had forged a trail to a peaceful lookout.

After a good amount of time ashore we were shuttled back to Plancius to get warm before once again going out on deck to watch our second transit of the Lemaire Channel. We were heading north again and onto our afternoon landing at Port Lockroy. The weather hadn’t improved by the time we arrived at this famous Station.

Port Lockroy

We were divided into two groups, the first being shuttled to Port Lockroy, and the second to Jougla Point. While half of us were shopping and looking around the museum the rest of us were penguin peeping and getting photos next to a large Minkie whale skeleton that had been reassembled on the beach. After an hour it was time to swap landings and after a further short while we were returned safe and sound to the ship, minus a small amount of money but laden with souvenirs of our visit.

Due to a predicted change in the weather the Captain decided to reorganize the schedule for our final day in Antarctica, we were heading north to Deception Island and the South Shetlands to escape the increasing winds.

Please check further South Shetland and back to Ushuaia.