After 9 days in transit, today I took my first step onto the Antarctic Peninsula. I just spent the last five days aboard the Gould as we trekked across the Drake Passage. It was nice to be on land.
Getting to Antarctica is a bit more difficult than simply booking a flight through hopping on a plane. I took three flights to get to the tip of Chile, to a city called Punta Arenas, where the Laurence M. Gould was stationed waiting for us to board. I traveled from Boston to Miami, Miami to Santiago the capital of Chile and finally to Punta Arenas. For the most part the trip was smooth sailing. On New Years we were greeted with a treat; our plane was so empty every person could claim three seats to themselves, a luxury on a 9 hour overnight flight from Miami to Santiago.
In Punta Arenas we accomplished two main tasks. We received and tried on our issued cold weather gear (a comical fashion show) and stowed all our lab gear and supplies from shipping containers lifted onto the ship via cranes.
Time seems to run at it’s own pace at the bottom of the earth. The sun rises by four and sets around 11 at night, a disorienting norm for someone reliant on the cues of the sun to tell time. I find myself so sure that it can’t possibly be past seven at night only to find out that it is in fact ten at night.
Traveling across the Drake Passage took five days. The waves were only about ten feet at their maximum but it was enough to send a placed object, like a water bottle, on a table flying off the edge and crashing onto the floor. That was a common occurrence until we learned from our many mistakes. Taking a shower was interesting. In fact, any task that requires some semblance of balance becomes a feat requiring significant attention.
As we made our way into Palmer seals and penguins adorned nearly every floating block of ice. Many begrudgingly left their sunning spots as we trudged by but others lazily glanced our way and that was all. It took only a half hour to dock at Palmer Station.
Now it’s time to explore the station! I will check in soon.
Want to follow the Gould? Check out the site below.
www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shipposition.phtml?call=WCX7445 Want to send me questions? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org