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.

15 November 2007

Lemaire Channel and Port Lockroy

LAT: 65° 05' South
LON: 64° 00' West
TEMP: -2°C
WIND: 10-15 knot from N

We traveled through the Gulf of Erebus and headed toward the Grearlache Strait. Weather has been a bit dubious, but we are trying to head through a series of wonderfully scenic narrow straits and channels that lies along the edge of the peninsula. If possible, as we pass Port Lockroy, we will stop and pick up someone that was stranded at the place.

Port Lockroy is maintained and staffed by the British Antarctic Heritage Trust. If you are interested in getting more information about them, please visit their Web site: www.ukaht.org/portlockroy.htm

The mission of the trust is to preserve British history in the region. They maintain and staff some of the historic outposts and buildings in the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Region. They are a very small historic radio relay station at Port Lockroy that was a vital link in the allied communication system in World War II. They have refurbished the building and created a small museum and gift shop. It is the only such place along the Peninsula and perhaps in all of Antarctica.

The small wooden building is situated in the middle of a Gentoo Penguin rookery on a tiny rocky island. Black rock, ice, and Gentoo Penguins...and that is about all there is. No neighbors, TV, suburbs, or stray dogs. It is staffed during the late spring and summer by three hardy souls. No showers, limited fresh food, very cramped living accommodation. Must be an interesting life. When ships do visit the Lockroy, staff is usually brought back to the ship for a nice hot shower, a gourmet dinner, and conversation. Last year when I was there, the manager told me how they had to make sure the door was always kept closed otherwise the Gentoos would wander in. The Gentoos aren't always the cleanest house guests!

By the afternoon conditions had worsened. We now had low clouds rough seas, -10°C and roughly 70-mile-per-hour winds. When we reached Port Lockroy, conditions were just too radical to launch a zodiac to pick up the stranded person. How he got to be stranded there was never explained. He'll have to go a bit longer without a shower.

We made it through the Lemaire channel despite the rough conditions and approached the narrow Neumeyer Channel but could not enter it. Numerous icebergs blown in by the wind blocked the channel. Even the Kapitan Kehlebnikov has it limits. Regretfully we turned the ship around and headed to a sheltered place to spend the night. During the night the ship will constantly be moving. Its impossible to anchor a ship like the Kehlebnikov in high winds due to the ships 8-story high profile above deck. So during the night we will essentially pace back and forth thus holding our position.

Russian word for the day: Beautiful! Prykrasna!