Thursday, 23 December 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010


Finally i made it back to Norway and Christmas celebration at my parents house. This will be the last time, as my parents are moving to a new house and another era in my life will have ended;0)

The trip from Ushuaia in South-America started Friday morning with a 3 hr 15 min flight to Buenos Aires in Argentina. Walking out of the door in Buenos Aires was a shock, it was 30 degrees warm and i was definately not used to this temperature. We waited almost one hour for our luggage before we got driven to the hotel, a very nice one, called the Melia, down-town Buenos Aires, close to the shopping streets and the old docks.
i walked around in the town for some time, before having a nice dinner with beef and red wine in the old docks, before walking back to the hotel to relax and doe some work.

Next morning i had a late breakfast and met up with some crew-members and had a good lunch on a street café, before our pick-up brought us to the international airport. The line here was enormously long and slow, and after some time we found out that the plane was delayed for six hours. After two hours we got our tickets changed and got a voucher for a free meal. This is deffinately a slow moving banana-country. we had some drinks and some wine to kill time and then entered the plane around midnight, ready to fase a fourteen hour flight to Frankfurt. the flight went ok, but there wasn´t much space so the sleep was so so...
Just before landing we were told that the airport was closed, due to heavy snow, so we had to circle around for one hour, before finally getting the landing permission. we really need to give these people some shovels and a course how to use them.

More lines, two hours to change the tickets again and then we had half an hour to run to the gate, far far away and go thought security again! Well we came to late to the gate just to know that there would be no plane before 2250 and that we had been running after an imaginary plane! Go figure the flow of information...

Well we got lucky and got a plane and space so we could fly home to Norway. Here the trains and buses had stopped driving at hrs 0000, so my parents had to drive up and pick me. I got my luggage and arrived home at hrs 0300, happy and lucky to have gotten back. Not the same for thousands of passengers in the rest of Europe...

Saturday, 18 December 2010


On my three trips down in this southern part of the world i have sailed 9328 Nm (nautical miles) or 17 276 km.
I will also have spent 40 hrs in a plane and travelled around 30 000 km by air.
i took approximately 10 000 pictures, saw 10 mill penguins and 40 whales and saw a lot of rocks, ice and very few people...

Friday, 17 December 2010

the last time over the Drake...

The Drake passage
The last two days were spent in the Drake Passage between the Antarctic peninsula and south-America.
the weather was fairly good the first day, but then we started to get some gale force wind and some waves up towards 10 meters. some people even started flying a bit around in the ship...
Luckily we had good speed and could enter the Beagle channel, outside Ushuai, yesterday around hrs 1500 and wait there until the pilot came aboard in the night and take us into port.

We woke up this morning to say good bye to our guests at hrs 0645 and after some breakfast we repeated the ceremony at hrs 0815. Some of the new guides arrived so we had a chance to say hi to them, before we got picked up by an agent at hrs 1015 and drove out to the airport. As most other airports down here, they are all caotic!
Bad weather
the plane took of at hrs 1200 and around 1 1/2 beer and some biscuits later (3hr15 min) we landed in Buenos Aires. here we were met by 30 degrees and i can tell you i was warm, or over heating;0)
After some more chaos we got picked up and driven to our hotels. John had an other hotel than I. i spent some time walking in town and then i went down to the old harbour and got half a bottle of malbeck red wine, some salad and a steak and then i was a happy man;0)
now i am just at the hotel Malina, relaxing and getting mentaly ready for a horror flight to Frankfurt tomorrow, lasting 14 hrs and then i will see if they have cleared the runways of snow...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

in the name of the panda...

Well this was a day in the sun, thus in the name of the panda, as i look like one due to being red like Rudolf the red nosed reindeer. the sun has been very strong the last two days and today it was very strong, so i had to use factor 50 sun-protection to avoid further panda-looks;0)
we had a very good landing at Half Moon island, because last time the rain was pouring down. There was a colony of some thousand gentoo penguins, some occational chinstrap penguins and some snowy sheathbills, spread around on the small island, surrounded by white and heavily glaciated mountains. the abandonned Argentine station, Teniente Camara lies close by, but a visit was not on the "menu".

After lunch we saile a short distance to Yankee Harbour, a small outcrop of rocks surrounded by glaciers and a protected bay with a large spit, blocking anoying waves and swells from making our life misserable at the landing zone. The sun was really baking here, cooking everyone, both penguin and mankind. a few penguin chicks were already born, but still too small to be walking around...i have to come back another time for that;0)

This was my last landing in Antarctica and now only the journey over the Drake passage is left...

Too much ice...

Neumayer channel on a good day
During the night we were forced to turn around due to heavy ice in the Lemaire channel and southwards, so we had to cancel our landing at the base at Vernadsky and a small boats cruise in the Lemaire channel. Instead we did a landing at Neko Harbour, home to a couple of thousands of Gentoo penguins and a glaciated landscape. During our stay we saw the American ice-breaker Laurence M. Gould, doing some sort or research...

Port Lockroy
During lunch we sailed north towards Port Lockroy an old British base from the 1940s. it has been restorated by the British Antarctic Heritage trust and is now the "shopping mall" of Antarctica, where you can get all from t-shirts to stamps and ties in the tartan patterns. The four people living there during the austral summer is by this way getting money to run their operations in keeping and restoring the old British stations in Antarctica. The record for one ship buying in the store is 20 000$ in one day!!!
We sailed through the Neumayer channel to Port Lockroy, it was beautifull, no wind, the sea was like a mirror, reflecting the beauty of the mountains and the glaciers. on our way we met the cruise ship Prince Albert 2 and at anchour in Port Lockroy we met the brig Europa a large three masted sailing ship, bringing passengers around in the old way.

People walking
The day ended with a hot cup of British "tea" and a Christmas hug from the locals and then we sailed north towards the South Shetland islands...

Cuverville Island...

Sunday was the day we visited Cuverville Island. We had been sailing all night and most of the day. During the sailing i had two lectures about Shackleton and his accomplishments in the beginning of the last century.
Getting into sight of Cuverville Island we saw a pack of whales swimming around. They were humpback whales, which can weigh up to 40 tons. They swam more or less undisturbed around and one even swam under our ship, just so we could get some great shots (i hope).

After the whale safari we landed at Cuverville, home to around 60 000 Gentoo penguins. After marking walking paths for our passengers i was posted on a small view point, overlooking the beautifull bay and the strait. winds and cloids changed during our stay, giving us a few snow showers and some great views.

We finished landing in around three hours and then sailed south through the Errera channel, a scenic channel of high mountains and glaciers, littered with small and large icebergs.
During the evening we sailed into the Lemaire channel. it was cold and windy and eventually we got low clouds and fog and more and more ice...

Monday, 13 December 2010

Paulet island and Brown Bluff

Huge tabular ice sheets
Saturday we made a landing at Paulet island. this is seldomly done as the island is east of the Antarctic Sound which has a lot of ice floating around. the island is famous because the crew of the Antarctic (Otto Nordenskjölds expedition from 1902-1903) sank 45 km east of Paulet island and the crew of 20 spent 16 days travelling over the ice to the island. Here they built a cottage of stone and killed 700 penguins they could use as food, light and heating for the winter to come. One member of the crew died here but the others survived 9 months and got picked up by a ship.
This is also the island Shackleton tried to reach in 1916, but instead the had to go to Elephant island...
the island is home to between 200-500 000 Adelie penguins and some commorant birds.

Brown Bluff
In the afternoon we made a landing at Brown Bluff, a moberg ( volcanic rock created during a eruption below a glacier), home to around 60 000 gentoo penguins. the whole Antarctic sound is littered with large tabular ice-sheets, drifting around for the enjoyment of our guests and us;0)

Friday, 10 December 2010

Deception island and Walker Bay

Early this morning some of our esteemed co-workers went on a hike to Bailey Head and the penguin colony.
I was posted on a smaller mountain (105m) overlooking the whole caldera of Deception island in beautiful calm weather. eventually i got some snow showers and some wind.
Old BAS hangar in whalers Bay
during the day i had some visits by some "blue-coats" and i spent the morning with taking photographs and seeking shelter from the wind behind a semi-small rock;0)
As always when the low tide comes in Whalers Bay, the warm geothermal water comes out, so you can warm up your feet and fingers.

At hrs 1230 operations ended and we got back on the ship for some lunch and downloading of photographs before doing a new landing at Walker Bay, Livingston island at hrs 1500. this island is mostly covered in glaciers and is situated just North of Deception island.

Snow and tephra field in Whalers Bay
wThe landing here went well to, and there were many elephant seals dozing of on the beach and a bunch of gentoo- and chinstrap-penguins. During the afternoon the wind and waves picked up, so the landings got a bit more hard-working. After a long day in the cooler it felt good to have some warm water warming up frozen limbs and eating deer at the buffet...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Drake(ing) around...

Since we left the Horn yesterday morning we have been in the Drake passage on our way to Antarctica.
The weather has been quite kind to us most of the time, nothing like the weather that the ship i talked about yesterday experienced! Good for me;0)

During the day the wind has picked up and so have the waves. Currently we have 20 m/sek and wave heigths between 5.5 and 8 meters, thus some passengers and staff are finding it hard to keep their lunch on the "inside".

I tried out some photography of birds in flights, with some tips from Dominic (our Aussi photographer) and John our Canadian bilogist and photographer. The results were not to bad nor to good either, but it is moving forward..

Tomorrow morning we are landing in Deception Island at hrs 0600 and will attempt a walk over to Baily head and the penguin colonies. Last time we got hammered by a blizzard, so we hope to avoid this again?

Well i am off to enjoy my dinner and hopefully it will stay where it is supposed to stay until i reach land...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cape Horn, the Horn, Cabo de Hornos...

This morning we made a very early landing, hrs 0515, at Cape Horn, almost the southern most part of South America. It is very unusual to make a landing here due to the hard and difficult weather conditions here. Normally winds are blowing from the West, waves (up to 25 m) rolling in from the West and strong currents drifting ships to the East, makes landings very tricky. Two weeks ago we passed by without attempting a landing, as we had a full storm of 32 m/sek and seven meter waves. So now i have seen it all and tried it all, except for 25 meter waves, which I can live without;0)

  Now our course it set across the Drake Passage and Antarctica, where we will arrive Friday morning at Deception island...

Press release about a cruise ship that got pounded by waves in the Drake passage yesterday

Puerto Williams and glaciers

Yesterday we sailed through the Gribaldi fjord and looked at the glacier there. It was a very narrow and "norwegian" fjord;0). then we continued in the Beagle channel and looked at the five glaciers, all named after countries - italia, germany, holland, spain and romania, one more spectacular than the other!

The ship arrived at the naval base in Puerto Williams around 1630 and then we took most of the passengers for some hikes. Miguel, Steffen and I made it to the view-point at 289m altitude, with the same scenic view as last time we were here. Unfortunately only four or five of the passengers came up to view this.

On our way back we passed through donw-town of this city of 2626 individuals and saw the bow of the "Yelcho", the ship that eventually got shackletons men out of Elephant island in 1917!

Monday, 6 December 2010

A day in the name of Njord (Njǫrðr)

This morning at hrs 0545 most of us guides from the expedition team went in our small polar circle boats and landed on the island of Magdalena, after a bit wet journey. the weather was not worse than we would eventually dry up in the present wind. After only 15-20 min the wind really picked up and the silt and sand on the island really started to be annoying. the ship drifted a lot and it was decided to abort the landing, which ment that our passengers never got the chance to see the 100 000 magellanic penguins. the journey back to the ship was even more wet than before, but now we could at least get dry clothes.

the rest of the day we have been sailing south through the strait of Magellan, the Gabriel channel with its beautifull scenery - if it was not for low clouds and winds up to 39.4 m/sek which hit us in gusts, making the ship tilt over by several degrees. Njord or Njǫrðr was the god of winds and sea in the Norse mythology. We also entered the beautifull fjord of Sono Augustini with its many glaciers and jagged mountain peaks. At the moment we are sailing towards the Beagle channel, named after the ship HMS Beagle that took Charles Darwin around the world...

tonight there is fashion show, luckily my last, since i have to appear in Amundsens replica of a swim-suit, as if Amundsen brought one on his journeys to the cold and unforgiven ice worlds;0)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Just another day in Punta Arenas

we arrived in Punta Arenas last night and this time the immigration people where a bit faster, but it still took 1 hr 15 min for them to clear the ship. absolutely no efficiency in this country...

Punta Arenas was founded in 1848 and was quite prosperous until the Panama channel was opened in 1914!

All of us guides and some of the officers went on land and found a very small and cozy restaurant with a fire-place and a big warm oven. we had some "tea" and lamb meat, Guanako and Alpaka, all very good and delicious in a warm and cozy atmosphere:0)

this morning i was sent out on a mission, joining the city guided tour. we had 43 passengers and a local guide, telling us the stories of the city, about rich and poor, visited the museum and watched a police/military parade. After a good lunch at the ship i am no talking to Anna on facebook. She arrived early this morning in Iceland after a long journey through south and north-America and a 13 hr stay in New York. Now iceland is covered in a white blanket of snow and frost.

this evening we will go out for some hopefully nice dinner on a local restaurant, before heading over to the nearby island of Magdalena at hrs 0600 and 100 000 magellanic penguins...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ushuaia and beyond

Yesterday we arrived in Ushuaia early in the morning. Most of our guests left the ship before hrs 0830 and Anna stayed on until hrs 1000 helping us with getting blue jackets up for the next trip. She then left with Francis and Tristan and some other members of the crew. Anna is flying to Buenos Aires, then waiting for some hours before flying 10 hrs to New York, where she will have 13 hours to do some shopping. She is probably already on it, since the plane was supposed to land in NY at hrs 0605!

We sailed out of port in Ushuaia at hrs 1915 only 1 hr 15 min delayed, due to customs. The weather was light wind, medium high clouds and a little drizzle of rain. After safety drill on deck 5 and presentations of the officers and the expedition team in the panorama saloon on deck 7, I turned in to gain some of my lost sleep.

Today it is overcast and around 5 degrees and some rain showers and I am looking after the desk-duty for some hours, answering the same questions and complaints as you always get in the beginning of these trips...e.g. when is dinner, when are we there, why is the weather bad, why don't we get bad weather in the Drake, can penguins fly, what is for dinner etc. All a lot of things that you have to be ready to handle in a polite way, even if someone if giving you a load of complaints, which most of is not even your fault. But you are the face of the company and the one and only the turists can adress, that is why we are in the reception:0)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Drake passage

We are now at our day number two in the Drake Passage, between Antarctica and South America. Early tomorrow morning we will be in Ushuaia. The weather has been quite different, with no wind to quite some wind, but the most annoying was the the swells and waves, giving some of us a hard time. At hrs 0235 we woke up by everything not strapped down, came down on the floor... what an adventure;0)

Yesterday we had the captains dinner and a charity auction, so we had to dress up nicely and sell the "masters chart" and the "flag" as high as possible, but people were not really in the charity mood so only the "masters chart" was sold, for 600$!

I had a lecture on Shackleton yesterday and have one more today.

Anna and four of our guides are flying home tomorrow and we get four new new guides tomorrow.

This will be the last trip for me to Antarctica, for now at least. The trip will be more or less the same as this one, and i will not have any visitors this time, so i will have to manage on my own...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Turret Point and Pinguine Island

Yesterday we landed at Turret Point in the South Shetland island. the landing was difficult as we tried out several places. some of which were quite rocky and had a lot of swells. after landing in one place we spent almost one hr walking around before chosing our first landing site as the primary one, for our passengers. the site was swarming with elephant seal, lying around burping and making sounds. these animals are huge, up to 2-3 tons.

i spent the day at the landing site, welcoming passengeres and sending them of to the ship again. the waves and swell picked up during the day and it got more and more difficult to load people into the boats. in the end we had a good landing, but a very cold one to our feet at least.

before sailing back to have lunch we checked out possible landing zones on the nearby Penguin island, some of us were "lucky" enough to spend 10 min there. soaking wet we came back to the ship and had lunch. the weather deterioated so a landing in the afternoon was aborted, instead we set course for the Drake passage.

the Drake passage has very little wind now but a lot of swell, which at least made both Anna and me sea-sick, forcing us to lie down and sleep a lot. But duty call so i had a lecture yesterday and already had one today and one more to come tomorrow...