We arrived at Brown Bluff at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula at about 5am. We got ready for a 6am departure, then were told it was too rough and there was ice blocking the landing place. Instead, we would go on a Zodiac cruise. Our group went with Rob. There was quite a swell, but the ride was not too bad. We were all dressed in many layers for the long time exposed to the elements. After about half an hour, my feet became quite cold. We have to wear wellingtons but they don't provide much warmth, even with 2 layers of socks. I couldn't take many photos from the Zodiac, as it was difficult to hang on to the camera in the heaving seas. We saw adelie penguins and many glaciers.
Finally, the decision was made to go ashore. The expedition crew had literally pushed the ice out of the way of the landing site! Rob had to return to the ship to assist with the landing, so we had to go back and change Zodiacs and drivers. Another disembarkation and embarkation to cope with! On the way back to Prince Albert, we got very wet. It was difficult to get back on to the ship, but then we turned around and climbed into another Zodiac with Robin Aiello.
We finally landed on the Antarctic Continent - our seventh and final continent we have visited! As we neared the shore, we could see some of the expedition team, led by Robin West, chest-high in the water, struggling to clear the ice for our landings. What dedication! We were all very excited and Robin Aiello was crying, feeling very emotional to be back in Antarctica after spending 6 months there in 1994. We saw many adelie penguins and took lots of photos, savouring the moment of being there.
A happy moment standing on our seventh continent.
We went back to the ship with Daniil and, once again, it was very rough. Joe, an elderly American, had great difficulty getting off the Zodiac. We were absolutely soaked through by the waves. Back onboard, we were given champagne to celebrate our achievement. If the weather had been better, the staff would have served it to us on shore at Brown Bluff. Some of the winds were blowing at 100kms an hour. We had brunch/lunch and it was still only 11.30am!
In the afternoon, we were initially disappointed once again to learn we couldn't land on Paulet Island because the conditions were so extreme.
We moved on, through wonderful icebergs, past Dundee Island, which was very beautiful. It was covered in ice and snow and looked like a cake.
We were delighted to hear they had found us a landing-place on Joinville Island, a place which was new to the expedition team and didn't even have a name. There was thick compacted snow on the beach and we stepped on to that instead of a wet landing. A pleasant change!
We were told to stay with our guide, Lutger, and we saw nesting adelies and gentoos. We watched as the males went up and down from the nests, taking pebbles to their mates. There were penguins everywhere, swimming and tobogganing on the snowy beach.
Juan went for a swim in the sea in about 1 or 2 degrees C, then he took us back to the ship. We had to wait for a short time while Captain Peter moved the ship nearer to where we were. We had a fabulous day and it was decided at the briefing that the unnamed landing-site should be called Stahlberg Cove after the Captain who was looking after us all so well. Tomorrow we will go to Deception Island, where we can swim if we want! We had a very enjoyable dinner (an excellent saddle of lamb) with Dee, Jim, John, Marty, Mary and Steve at the Captain's table.