Tuesday January 23rd, 2001

Location

Danco Island, Errera Channel

Latitude

64.43S

Longitude

62.36W

Wind

Calm

Sea

Mirror-like

Air temp

12 deg C

Sea temp

0.5 deg C

Barometer

988 mbs and steady

1900 hrs: We up-anchored at the Melchior Islands around 0900 - and didn’t get here to drop anchor off Danco island until 1730 (5.30 pm). It was only about 30 miles, but the cry of “There She Blows” from Janot, high up in the crow’s nest as we motored slowly southwards down Dallman Bay towards the Gerlache Strait, had the divers and cameraman scrambling into their dry-suits.

We stayed near a number of whales for a few hours. First of all, a female Humpback and her calf moving very slowly on the surface and then several Minke whales. We stopped the engines, turned off the steering pumps, echo sounder and generator, and just drifted in the clear-but-cold morning air.

A pair of Minke Whales came up right next to us and stayed alongside for quite a while so close that when they “blew” we sure knew about it on deck as the spray was covering the lens of the big camera and the smell was…well, as you would expect, very fishy. What a marvellous experience. We were all on a “high” for quite a while afterwards.

We motor sailed across the Gerlache Strait and entered Errera Channel. Weaving our way between the most amazing array of bergs, big and small; and ice floes with leopard seals and lazing crab-eater seals soaking up the afternoon sunshine.

Seamaster is now anchored off the northern end of Danco Island, in about 35 metres of water. It is shallow enough to hopefully stop the bigger bergs that are making their way out of the channel from bumping us. The smaller ones are scrapping along the topsides as I sit and write this.

Some of the crew are ashore, where there is an old British Antarctic Survey hut and many penguins.

Marc is trying out his paraglider in the calm evening air so that he will be ready for filming when conditions allow. A video camera fits onto his flying helmet. He has over 400 parachute jumps to his credit, achieved during his time with the US Navy Seals, so he is quite at home in the skies.

Ollie and Alistair are tied alongside in the dinghy replacing one of the letters that disappeared from the topsides during the crossing of Drake Passage from South America. But the large lumps of ice floating past interrupt them from time to time…