Day 14 Saturday 1st March (St David’s Day)
Doug Allen visited the ship yesterday evening to give a resume of his life and career as a wildlife photographer who has worked for the BBC, Sir David Attenborough and others. He started working in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey. From his first film about Emperor Penguins he went on to make a major contribution to series such as Life in the Freezer and Blue Planet.
During the 2200-0000 anchor watch Bosun Lesley could be seen, boat hook in hand, pushing large growlers away from Nellie’s side. Later, towards the end of the watch, she was alone on the deck when she heard an eerie noise. She shone a torch over the side looking for whales, but spotted the movement of a snow-covered leopard seal on an adjacent ice floe, which proved to be the source of the sound. She called those on watch to quietly come and listen to the sound that can only be described as a cooing gurgling. We could also hear its breathing.
We awoke this morning to find more snow on the deck. The snow had also settled on the sea to give the surface a slushy appearance.
Anchors were weighed at 0830 and we set off under engine for the Argentine Islands and the Vernadsky Base.
Although the fog prevented us from seeing the full splendour of the scenery along the Lemaire Channel, we were awe-struck by the towering mountains at the edge of the Channel, dropping straight into the sea.
We wove our way around the growlers and bergy bits until our way was barred by brash ice at the narrow end of the Channel, about two hours away from our destination. We had no option but to turn around and return to Port Lockroy. As the mist cleared a little we were able to see Cape Renard, a very steep pointed mountain which our expedition leader, Skip Novak, had previously climbed.
So hoping for better weather and another attempt to reach Vernadsky tomorrow.
Aft Port Watch: Andrew, Eileen, Ian, Tom, Louise, Holly, Chris, Barbara and Celia.