29th March: Antarctica (Admiralty Bay, King George Island)

Snow falls overnight

Fog and snow today.

Our last day in Antarctica but low visibility so no zodiac trips, just presentations and processing.

In the late afternoon it lifted for a little while sufficiently for some photographs,

Just before dark we weighed anchor and departed for the Falklands.

Arctowski lighthouse from the ship.

Panaoramic view of Arctowski Station and Admiralty Bay from the ship.

(Click on image above to zoom into a much larger image with much more detail).

28th March: Antarctica (Admiralty Bay, King George Island)

In the afternoon we took off in the zodiacs to explore Admiralty Bay.

A view of the shore shortly after leaving, just round the point from Arctowski Station.

This is later in the afternoon, about four or five kilometres away on the other side of Admiralty Bay.

You can see the huge crack in the ice in the upper right image as bits and pieces fall away into the sea. We waited and eventually saw the whole structure shear off and fall.

That's not just snow in the distance, it's a glacier covered with snow. If you click on the image you should be able to see the ice. Not a safe place to walk if you could even get there.

A massive wall of ice at the water's edge.

Faces in the zodiac. Left to right: Ben (historian), Jim (birdwatcher) and Amanda (expedition leader).

Icicles and overhanging ice.

A jumbled tangle of snow and ice.

Jagged ice against the snow and rocks.

A wild vista of rocks, sea and glaciers.

Click on the image above to zoom round in a much larger view.

Appearing like a face out of the ice. Perhaps a rock sculpture made long ago by humanoid dinosaurs when Antarctica was warm.

Is it an ice mask from tropical Africa?

This is a massive cliff underneath a glacier. From time to time, huge blocks of ice will fall off the top.

Late in the day, we ventured into a small bay with a shoal of broken ice.

When we came to return to the ship across Admiralty Bay, the weather had come up and we experienced a rough and bumpy ride. Then, back at the ship, a rather exiting transfer from the zodiac to the ship in the heaving sea.

28th March: Antarctica (Arctowski Station, King George Island)

We had arrived at the Polish Arctowski Station to offload winter supplies and scientists.  The Poles here have an amphibious vehicle which you see here unloading supplies from the ship.

… and here they are coming out onto the land.

We received a warm welcome at Arctowski and then it was time to wander out and explore around the base.

If you’re going to be spending a winter in Antarctica, you need to find ways to amuse yourself and soccer is very popular when weather conditions allow.  We also observed from afar a soccer game at Vernadsky Station while we were there.

Nothing like relaxing on a white sand beach.  Just one problem, though.  This isn’t actually sand.  That’s a small lighthouse in the distance and some of the photographers from our expedition scattered around it.

Whalers were here as recently as the early twentieth century, especially since the huge Admiralty Bay never gets blocked by ice.  There are many whale bones along the shore.

I saw four seals of three different kinds and a gentoo penguin or two.  This is an elephant seal.

A weddell seal comfortably snuggled in on a mattress of snow and ice.

Another weddell seal taking advantage of its natural layers of insulation.

23rd March: Antarctica (Great Wall Station, King George Island)

Great Wall Station

Early in the morning we had reached the Chinese Great Wall station near the southern end of King George Island.

Inside the Great Wall Station

At about 8:30am we jumped into the zodiacs for a cruise around and a visit to the Chinese station.

Gentoo Penguins and mountains near Great Wall Station, King George Island

There were lots of gentoo penguins standing around on the shore, many moulting, the odd cormorant and a few skuas.

The return trip was rather eventful. The engine repeatedly failed on our zodiac. We eventually got back to the ship and one person disembarked before the zodiac was swept away again. They decided to hoist the zodiac on board but we were too heavy for that so we had to transfer to another zodiac at sea. This was not made easier by having to carry my heavy photographic pack inside a water proof bag. I quickly worked out that trying to straddle two zodiacs in the surging sea was not a viable option so I dived from one to the other when they were together. It all worked well enough in the end.