Saturday January 13th, 2001

Location

At Brown Bluff – right at the top of the Antarctic Peninsula where it meets the Weddell Sea

Latitude

63.30S

Longitude

56.54W

Conditions

Snowing

Wind

Light

Sea

Calm

Air temp

Plus 3.0 deg C

Sea temp

Minus 1.0 deg C

Barometer

983 mbs and droping


Last night was a catchup night at anchor in Hope Bay just off the Argentine Antarctic base of Esperanza. The winds were light and the sea calm with quite a lot of ice floating past. There were also large patches of very small pieces of ice floating on the surface of the sea that we haven’t seen before. I was on anchor watch from 0200 until 0300, and the sky was a mass of brilliant pink clouds with a blue sky seen between the mist patches through the snow covered mountains around us. The big glaciers at the head of the bay were pristine white, as were the ice-cliffs surrounding the northern and western edges.

This morning no wind and very wet sleety snow that lay on the surface of the water for a while before disappearing. The surface of the sea had a very thin layer of ice over it in places where it had begun to freeze overnight.

Janot was checking the fresh water tank in the forepeak and noticed ice forming on the surface of a few millimetres thick. So on went the fresh-water tank heater. Our water-maker has its own incoming water heater that is now (touch wood) working fine, but to have to heat the stored water shows how cold the outside sea has become. We up-anchored and motored slowly out of the bay after the morning chores heading south for Browns Bluff about 8 miles down the eastern end of the Peninsula. Leaving Hope Bay behind, we entered Antarctic Sound - iceberg alley at its best.

Weaving between large bergs - blues, greens, some covered in penguin and bird droppings, some of impossible shapes, some still flat topped, some that had turned upside down in recent times, some full of bright blue caves but all made from incredibly old ice - in most cases probably far far older than mankind itself.

Ollie has been diving next to Seamaster to test our equipment to make sure the regulator doesn’t freeze in these sub-zero waters. All is well and he is delighted. Compared to the sea-bed in Tierra del Fuego, this place is completely alive. The look on his face says it all. He is ecstatic.