Wednesday, December 14, 2011

C-C-C-OLD!!! (Nov. 25)

Well, this is both a sad and exciting day!  It was the last time we landed in Antarctica.  The next time we will disembark the National Geographic Explorer will be in Ushuaia, Argentina!  Tonight we begin our journey to once again cross the tumultuous waters of the Drake Passage.  We're hoping and praying for a safe and speedy voyage home!  We should arrive in Atlanta early on Tuesday!  We're also very excited to be back home and see friends and family!
Today we visited a British base here on the Antarctic Peninsula named Port
Lockroy.  It was significantly smaller than the seemingly small American base at Palmer.  Lockroy is home to only five people that do various jobs from managing the southernmost post office in the world to restoring and preserving the old expeditionary and whaling sites in the area.

Port Lockroy.

The Post Office.

The base itself is only operates in the summer because the entire area is inaccessible in the colder months due to ice, but even during the summer, the members of the base have a very hard time traveling around.  It's not that the walking here is much harder than other places on the Peninsula.  It's more that they possess no boats or vessels of any kind.  Everywhere they go must be on foot, and it's on an island.  As I heard it explained, it is a matter of keeping the base small and inexpensive.  If they had one boat, they'd have to have a back-up boat.  If they had more than one boat, they'd have to have a technician to maintain and fix them.  If they had more staff they'd have to have a doctor.  With all the new personnel, they'd have to build extra lodging quarters, and then more personnel to build and maintain those.  And it goes on and on... What I can't figure out is if they currently operate without a boat, why they couldn't operate it without a back-up boat? If the first one broke, then they'd be back to status quo until next season right?

Penguin on the menu?

Anyone have a can opener?

Standard issue back in the day.

Do these penguins speak with a British accent?

Anyway, after the morning landing, the captain pushed the ship up on to some long awaited fast ice where we got out and ran around and threw snowballs.  Afterwards many from the ship chose to take a "polar plunge!" Yes, I partook, and no Jason did not.  As I found out from the scientific staff aboard, there are apparently five oceans not four! Our education system has not caught up to the scientific community.  So I completed my quest of swimming in all the worlds oceans.  The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and now the Southern Ocean!  It was COLD! The captain said it was somewhere between 28 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which was much colder than the Arctic Ocean at 34 degrees.

Out on the ice.

The National Geographic Explorer.

Well folks, this will either be my last or next to the last entry before we do any kind of recap when we return!  Jason should be covering our next two days at sea.  Thank you very much for following so far.  It's meant a lot that so many of you at home have decided to keep up with us while we've been traveling these last three weeks!
Thanks again,
And for the final time from the bottom of the world,

No comments: