Stacy in Antarctica

An adventure to the frozen continent

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Nov 11th – Half Moon Island & Deception Island

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I woke again at 4:30am but this time there was snow falling outside my window. Overnight we had passed the invisible line denoting the 60th parallel south (latitude) and had officially entered into Antarctic waters. This line was designated by the Antarctic Treaty of 1961, an agreement between the 12 countries present in Antarctica at that time to maintain the country as a peaceful scientific preserve, free of sovereign claims and military activity.

At 8:30am we were enthusiastically encouraged to head to the port side of the boat as the staff members on the Bridge had spotted our first iceberg. Far off in the distance, enveloped by fog and falling snow, was a massive tabular iceberg (chatacterised by a flat top and straight sides), drifting aimlessly along in the Southern Ocean. At dinner the night before, Boris had announced that there would be a prize for the person who guessed the closest GPS coordinates for our first sighting so we were all keen to find out who had won.

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Nov 10th – Drake Passage

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Sometime in the early hours of the morning I was awoken by the more pronounced pitching of the boat. We were out of the safety of land and had entered the notoriously unreliable waters of the Drake Passage.

The Drake Passage is the body of water that separates Cape Horn from the South Shetland Islands at the top of the Antarctic Peninsula. At around 1000 km in width, it is the shortest crossing to Antarctica from the rest of the world. This feature also means it acts as a funnel through which the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (the massive oceanic current that runs, relatively uninhibited, from west to east around Antarctica) must pass. In these seas the cold, dry air rises off the Antarctic continent and mixes with the warm, wet air from the equator, resulting in a constant progression of wild storms.

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