Wednesday February 14th, 2001

Location

Anchored near Hinks Channel

Latitude

67.11S

Longitude

67.35W

Wind

Southerly of 10 to 15 knots

Sea temp

0 deg C

Air temp

4 deg C

Barometer

983 mbs

Conditions

Partly cloudy with a very cold southerly breeze

We are anchored in the lee of a small, unnamed island just south of The Gullet in Hinks Channel. The names may not mean much – but the view from here is grand. We are facing the south, although with the wind sending eddies around the high craggy cliffs of our island, we are often pointing all ways.

Right behind us, to the north, is Mount St Louis (4200 feet), which is blocking out all satellite communications. To the east, through the clouds and overlooking a huge white-blue glacier of immense proportions, are the Gravier Peaks – of between 6300 and 7600 feet high. West of us, over the top of more glaciers and on the other side of The Gullet, is Mount Reeves – also 6300 feet high.

This surely is a grand place. It is normally frozen solid. We are probably the first to ever anchor here. The chart shows only a dot the size of a tiny fly-speck. But it is much more than that.

With the cold southerly wind behind us, we were looking for somewhere to spend the afternoon and night. It fits our mood perfectly.

The crew on Seamaster are having a competition to name our island. It won’t be a majestic name but it does need to be relevant.

The cliffs are home to many kelp gulls – the same black-back gulls that we grew up with in New Zealand. They are thriving here, but they are sharing with some blue-eyed cormorants and a number of sleepy weddell and crabeater seals, drowsing the afternoon away on some sunny rocks worn smooth with age. And ice.

There are a number of fairy-tale shaped small bergs with us – some stranded on a shallow ridge, some oozing along in the slight current. With the southerly breeze they are about to be joined by a multitude of bergy bits and brash – blowing around the eastern end of the island like many sheep, not sure or aware of a destination. For now we are in the clear, but the 24-hour watch is in place “just in case”.

Near here last year a British Antarctic supply vessel was stuck for five weeks – held by the ice. This year they came through easily, as did we. For the previous four years it was impassable. Frozen. Unrelenting ice. But the weather on the Antarctic Peninsula is different this year. Very different!

Dan, Andy and Jacqueline are away in the zodiac dinghy looking for filming opportunities.

Alistair and Janot have just finished a marathon clean of the main diesel piping down in the engine room, jammed in between both warm machines. They are now catching up on some sleep. The broken nights – almost every night standing anchor watch for a couple of hours each – leaves everyone feeling a little lethargic during the afternoons.

Marc and Ollie are sharing the after-lunch watch on deck. They are keeping an eye on Seamaster swinging around on her anchor, to make sure we don’t get too close to the shore.

Don has been out in the dinghy taking the photos for today, and I have spent most of my time since leaving Rothera, around 0930, catching up on correspondence. We are both now in the communications room, writing and selecting photos for this Log. After we have put it together and loaded it for the next transmission, we will up-anchor and head out from under Mt St Louis – for a clear line to the satellite 26,000 miles above the Amazon River in northern Brazil. This will enable us to send all the e-mails from today, collect incoming ones, and make a phone call or two. Then it will be back here for the night – hopefully a peaceful, uninterrupted one…