Antarctica Sighted
And then, there it was, a sight I had been seeking for many years - the continent of Antarctica. We'd been crunching through ice for several days, the remains of pack ice and bergy bits calved from an unseen ice shelf. Suddenly something different moved the ship, and almost by instinct the decks were crowded with sailors.

The "something different" was a swell rolling off a storm far to the south. As we rounded Cape Hallet we lost the protection of the landmass, and the waves began to roll - gently at first, then with an increasing intensity that ended up keeping us awake all night. This seemed to be the dumping ground for all the types of ice floating on this side of the continent; brash, sea ice, bergy bits, and big nasty prowling icebergs.

The ice shelf and jumbled ice off Cape Hallet.

Cape Hallet, our first glimpse of Antarctica.
Then way in the distance we could see the land, the corner of the world, the point where our fortunes continued South.

Also here were the locals. They moved through the neighborhood with assured confidence. The petrels and terns wheeled by riding the air swirling upward around the bow of the ship. The minke (MINK-ee) whales surfaced between the floes for air.

And of course there were penguins. A few here, a dozen there, but mainly one by one. They were lone sentinels noting the arrival of the sunlanders to their frozen kingdom.

This is the first penguin I got to pose for a shot.

This penguin saw the ship and said "There goes the neighborhood!"
The penguins were pretty funny. They were riding the ice like they were on surfboards. One had gotten up on top of a tall column of ice that kept swaying back and forth, so the penguin would flap one way and then the other trying to keep its balance. They do everything with complete sincerity, as if they were saying "I meant to do that!" with each silly antic. I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching them.

One of the waves that rocked the ship.

The red sky at night was not a sailor's delight; we spent a sleepless night close hauled and rolling in the storm.

The sun would not be setting for us until sometime in February. So the ruddy sunset would last for hours and become the sunrise. With ice of blue and the sky on fire, we pounded our way south.

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Page posted 01/11/2002