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Gerlache Strait


Oh, what a difference a day makes!  Still overcast, but the sky’s not pressing down on us.  We’ve entered Gerlache Strait, a body of water defined by the islands of the Palmer Archipelago on one side and the Antarctic mainland on the other.

The view from the deck is awesome, majestic, overwhelming.  This experience cannot be contained.  It flows past the boundaries your mind futilely erects to understand it.  This is elemental, Nature in all her glory.  This is not our place, we have no power here, we’re just transients allowed a brief look at Beauty.

The islands are much closer to us, their peaks towering over the ship, eliciting gasps from those who have ventured outside.  To port lies Antarctica.  We still can’t believe we’re here.

We continue to sail south, each minute bringing us further south than any of us has ever been.  Everywhere you turn new vistas appear.  We watch awestruck, trying to absorb it, trying to find the words that only poetry can provide.  The only choice is to suspend any attempt to categorize or compare, and simply allow the experience to transport us.

We continue along the Strait for several hours, the clouds gradually clearing, until we reach our turning point, the furthest south we are to go.  The snow-covered peaks glisten in the sun.  Huge, billowy clouds crown the land.  The plan is to turn around Wiencke Island and enter the Neumayer Channel, exiting at the north end back into the Gerlache Strait.  As we approach, the Bridge advises that we can soon expect stronger winds.  Off the bow, we have visual confirmation.  The water is much choppier ahead.  A katabatic wind, howling down one of the glaciers, is crossing our path.  The wind increases almost instantly from 5 knots to 80 knots.  Entering the narrower Neumayer Channel is out of the question.  With some difficulty, the wind fighting us all the way, the Captain and his bridge crew turn the ship back into the Gerlache Strait.  We miss seeing the Channel.  Our consolation?  We get to retrace our path back up the Strait, bathed in sunlight, impossibly beautiful.  Eyes tear on deck. perhaps from the wind.IMG_4162IMG_4164IMG_4182IMG_4187

2 Responses

Amazing photos! You are so fortunate to have been to the Antarctic.

  • Very impressive !

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