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Day 4 - February 14, 2011 - Brown Bluff, Antarctica 

By by Christian Walter, Historian

Co-ordinates: 63° 38’ S, 56° 50’ W
Weather: mostly cloudy, with open patches, sometimes foggy
Air Temperature: 1,3° C
Pressure: 971 hPa
Wind: 41 kph


For those keen on watching sunrises, an early wake-up call meant getting up at 05:02 a.m., and although it was cloudy in most areas, certain icebergs were nicely displayed in the light.

Captain Golubev had brought the Prince Albert II close to our normal landing-site beneath Brown Bluff, but much more ice was seen along the beach than during former visits.

Ashore with the scout-boat we found quite a few Gentoo penguins, but very few Adelie penguins. Most of the adults had left already and the young (still moulting) were moving in small groups along the beach.

Having set the perimeter for our walk, each group was then led to the site of the former large Adelie rookeries, before Juan started his walk up the glacier to the south.

Every so often the light broke through and the mountains in the background were lit up. Clouds and fog rolled in further south, but did not disturb our walks. Surprisingly many fur-seals were near the penguin rookeries and more than 40 (!) of them were dozing on the beach in front of the glacier.

As the tide was going down we had to shift our landing-site slightly –too many rocks were exposed, which made it quite difficult to approach without hitting them at the first site. The Prince Albert II continued sailing through the Antarctic Sound and icebergs were all around. The Sound is not named after the continent, as many would believe; it is named after a ship that was wrecked by the ice in 1903 during the famous Nordenskjöld expedition.

Captain Golubev took the Prince Albert II from one tabular iceberg to the next, and the morning was spent looking for interesting photo motifs.

During the afternoon we were heading further south, looking for some of the spectacular icebergs that had been seen during our last cruise.

At tea-time I sat with four of our German guests, talking about the history of early exploration and the famous “Endurance” expedition by Shackleton and his men.

At 5 o’clock Juan was giving his lecture about “Ice” when whales were seen and announced via the PA system. The lecture was stopped and everybody rushed to put on something warm, to be able to withstand the cold and wind outside.
Blows were seen in several locations, but the Prince Albert II was maneuvered close to two Humpback whales that swam near the surface and eventually dove down, nicely displaying their flukes.

Juan was then able to continue and finish his talk when even more spectacular sights came into our field of view: an iceberg with hundreds of Chinstrap penguins resting on the flatter parts. The foredeck was opened once more, and close-ups were possible from both from there as well as from the bridge-deck.

Two more icebergs were circled, when even more humpback whales were seen. Two of them came very close to the ship.

As we had spent so much time on the outer decks, the Recap & Briefing was postponed until tomorrow. The last dozen guests to watch whales headed for The Restaurant at 8pm, as the galley team was anxious to prepare yet another pleasing dinner.

After dinner I sat with the same four guests with whom I had had tea, to talk about tomorrow’s activities and other topics related to voyaging and the sea. Most everyone’s comment had been: ”What a day!”

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