Paradise Harbor: Almirante Brown Station (Argentina)
Waterboat Point: González Videla (Chile)
Noon Position: 54°48.6’S 68°18.0’W
Weather: Superb with partly cloudy skies, air temperature + 2o C(36o F), and wind 14 km/hour
There was a light cloud cover and breeze when we lowered our Zodiacs to the water and started shuttling guests to Goudier Island. This tiny island is tucked away in a bay off Wienke Island with beautiful glaciers all around. This is the site of Bransfield House, one of the old British Antarctic Survey stations, established in 1944 as a military outpost and research station. The base was abandoned for several years, but in 1995 it underwent extensive restoration, and today it is kept as a museum.
Entering the house is like a trip to the past. There are woolen underwear hanging over the blubber stove (not used at the moment), and tinned food from the ‘50s and ‘60s. In the old “pub” there are magazines and newspapers, and in the adjacent room, scientific equipment. The station commander, Rick Atckinson, was a dog trainer for BAS, and participated on the restoration project in the ‘90s. His team this year is three very nice ladies, Nikki, Laura and Jude, who help him with the work around the base and run the busiest shop and post office of Antarctica. Almost everybody brought post cards and letters to get the exclusive Antarctic Stamp, and many bought souvenirs at the shop. The money goes to the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust and is used towards maintaining the base, as well as other Heritage monuments like Scott and Shackleton’s huts in the Ross Sea.
Other guests were landed on the spit of land behind the station called Jougla Point. There are many whale bones on Jougla Point, and someone assembled a whale skeleton using the bones that were scattered on the site. It is hard to imagine the size of an animal that can be over 30 meters long, but standing besides vertebrae that stand 1 meter high, we can start to grasp the concept.
There was a curious Leopard Seal swimming in the channel between the two islands that was spotted by several Zodiac groups.
During lunch time, the Prince Albert II repositioned to the next bay, called Dorian Bay, where we had our afternoon landing. The smooth-topped glacier was used as a landing strip by BAS, and there is a green hut remnant of those times. Close to it there is an orange refuge hut that is maintained by Argentina.
There is a “gentle climb” to the top of the glacier, and the people who made the climb were rewarded by a magnificent view of Goudier Island and Port Lockroy, which we had visited during the morning. The ones who chose not to climb entertained themselves visiting the Gentoo penguin rookery located on the rocky spit. A leopard seal was seen swimming inside the protected bay, and eventually she hauled up on a flat piece of ice for a little siesta.
After all the Zodiacs were back and stowed away, the Prince Albert II sailed north through the Neumayer channel, rewarding us with more of the beautiful Antarctic scenery.