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Day 7 - February 4, 2009 - Paradise Bay And Goudier Island (Port Lockroy), Antarctica

By Claudia Holgate

Weather: -3 degrees Celsius warming to 1.4 degrees Celsius, Howling snowstorm to clear sky, with a light North Easterly breeze
Pressure 992hPa, 53% humidity
Co-ordinates: 64 49’21’’ South, 63 28’59’’ West

We woke up to miserable weather this morning, with zero visibility and a snow storm worthy of horror stories. However, our adventurous, spirited Expedition Leader is never put off by some inclement weather, so the Zodiacs were lowered and the staff had the opportunity to have an informal snowball fight from the snow-covered boats.

As we started disembarking guests, the snow stopped and the wind died down, leaving a calm, peaceful opportunity for us to start the day’s activities. This morning we had a Zodiac cruise around Paradise Bay, which is a favourite among the staff for its diversity of interesting things to see. The Argentinean station, Almirante Brown, is in the bay and although we didn’t stop off to walk, it is interesting going around the station and its nesting Gentoo penguins. We then continued and had a chance to look at the nesting Blue Eyed Shags, some of whom were nesting about 40m up the cliff face. We were also fortunate to spot nesting Cape Petrels or Pintados, with their chicks. Further along the cruise, we saw the green coppery streaks of the malachite down the cliff face.

And then we came to the most awe-inspiring glacier face, covering two sides of the bay. By this time, the sun was shining down creating a halo effect on the glacier, with the light of a photographer’s dream. A fleeting glimpse of a leopard seal in the water lead to great excitement, but alas he didn’t hang around for very long. We then came across a humpback whale logging, basically sleeping at the surface, raising his head and blowing occasionally. These are impressive creatures when one sees them from the ship, but to experience a humpback at close quarters in a small rubber boat makes us realise how large they really are. It also drives home what a privilege it is for us to actually be here. By now the sun was shining and most of the clouds had disappeared and the day had turned into a magnificent day, unlike any we had experienced thus far. Reluctantly, we had to leave Paradise Bay, which certainly lived up to its name today and continue our adventure by going through the Neumayer channel on our way to Goudier Island, commonly known after the British base there called Port Lockroy.

The Neumayer channel was truly exceptional, with bright sunlight along the snow-covered mountain, and created a rarely experienced treat. We arrived off Port Lockroy shortly after lunch and disembarked in our groups, with one group going on a Zodiac cruise to check out the sleeping leopard seal on an ice floe and the whalebones at Jeugla Point, while the second group went on shore to explore the museum at Port Lockroy. Port Lockroy is an historical base that has been refurbished and many of the artefacts from the original base are still there, allowing one to experience what it would have been like living in the base at the time. Port Lockroy is also a famous Antarctic shopping spot with a little shop selling books, clothes and souvenirs, which gave those guests with shopping withdrawal the opportunity to get some delightful gifts for those not fortunate enough to be on this expedition with us. The Gentoo penguin colony by the base is highly habituated, so the penguin chicks are sprawled all over the place, particularly the paths where one wants to walk, but they are too relaxed and in too deep a slumber to worry about the people having to step over them. Due to the absolutely incredible weather, our intrepid leader Ignacio and Captain Peter, decided to leave early so that we could experience the Lemaire Channel with this fantastic light. The Lemaire channel is one of the most beautiful channels of the region and as Ignacio described it, it is like poetry; it doesn’t matter how many times you read it, it is still beautiful.

The day finally comes to an end with one of our more formal evenings: the Venetian Society dinner celebrating Silversea’s returning guests, to which everyone is invited and the food is exceptional (Although this is always the case).

As one guest commented, "Every day is better than the last" and we have to agree. It will take an amazing day to top this one!

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