Welcome! Thank you for joining me, Sharon K. Schafer, on my journey to one of the most remote, beautiful, and truly wild places left on our planet: The Antarctic. I am an artist and naturalist from Nevada, USA who will be photographing, sketching, and journaling my experiences in Antarctica for two weeks in November 2007.

12 November 2007

A Low Key Day

LAT: 64° 06' South
LON: 56° 54' West
TEMP: -10°C
WIND: calm
TIME: 2000

It's 20:00. The sun is setting as I look across a vast field of sea ice that's turning gold as the sun moves toward the hills of James Clark Ross Island.

Today we woke up to an absolute white out. You could see nothing other than pure white anywhere you looked. Looking over the side of the ship you couldn't see the ice below. It made yesterdays pea soup look like a thin broth. All we could do is wait for the fog to clear.

I knew I wasn't going back to the rookery, but those guests that were to go today were understandably, agitated and worried. Jonas said out drop-dead time to get today's group into the rookery was 12 noon. Sure enough the gods listened to him once again and the skies abruptly changed to clear blue and sunshine.

I spent the day getting caught up, giving a program, and going out for a short ice walk over to a blue iceberg marooned in the sea ice. A few Emperors hung out by the ship on the ice. We looked unsuccessfully for Weddell or leopard seals. It was a very low-key day after the excitement of yesterday.

It was nice to be able to walk on the ice alone with my thoughts. Now and then I stopped looked across the foreign landscape. Flat sea ice, probably 2 meters thick here, occasional hummocks where the stresses and strains burst the ice and pushed it up and down. Beneath each 1 meter hummock would be a hidden 7-meter keel of ice hanging down into the ocean below.

They felt the sea ice was quite safe here but as a precaution we were required to wear life jackets. Not he big orange gumby type but a sleek little red job that drapes around our shoulders and is fastened by straps. If one has the unfortunate experience to go in the frigid drink and get a close up view of the Antarctic Sound, a small salt tablet dissolves, which activates a CO2 cartridge, and poof you are well inflated. There also is a way to manually activate the vest with a pull string. Several of the passengers have accidentally activated their vests. It keeps life interesting ... and amusing.

The rays are getting lower and shadows are getting longer. Skies are clear. Sun is gold and the shadows so blue.

Think I'll call it a night once we have dinner. Tomorrow is a big day. I just heard they think the forecast is good and we all may get out to the rookery tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.