Sunday 22 January 2023
As we were going to sleep last night there was an announcement from Aaron of a change of plans. They were discovering a lot more ice than expected as we travelled to Terra Nova Bay and there was uncertainty as to what the storm in the north would bring. They now felt it would be better for us to head back out to open waters and head toward Ross Island to maximise our chances of being able to explore that region. We may be able to visit Terra Nova Bay on the way home. At least one person at breakfast was disappointed as the Italian Base at Terra Nova Bay is reputed to have the best espresso in Antarctica.
So we have another day at sea. The intent was originally to head in a more southerly direction through the ice but on the location map in the morning we see that we have travelled back out of the ice the way we came in. We will likely be able to travel faster if we can head back out to open waters and then head south than to find our way southward. It is strange to have so much pack ice at this time of year. Even though we are in less dense ice at the moment we can see new sea ice forming as the ice keeps the surface temperature much cooler.
First up in the morning’s lectures is Steve talking about Marine Biology in the Ross Sea – and in particular about the plankton and krill species that make up the diet of penguins and seals. Crabeater seals don’t actually eat crabs but krill (that was referred to by early whalers as crab).
Then John pulls together the various parts of the story that make up Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Transantarctic Expedition with the various groups that were stranded both on the Ross Sea side but also the Antarctic peninsula side. John wove the stories together really well to give a sense of the timing and who was doing what and where at the same time.
This afternoon there will be a general knowledge quiz run by ‘Head of House’ Eric so we use our spare time to secure our teams of 8 (trying to get a good mix of knowledge).
After lunch we retire to the cabin to read/snooze, but stirred by the announcement of a leopard seal on an ice floe on the port side. At 3.00 we get an announcement from Aaron that we have finally managed to break free from the pack ice and are out into the open sea. It is 190 nautical miles (if we are able to go in a straight line) to the Ross Ice Shelf. Now we should be able to go at a much faster speed towards our desired destination.
Later in the afternoon we have our quiz – a general knowledge one this time with 3 different sections. It was good fun and not too taxing. Our team, the Bergy Bits, come in 3rd equal and are pretty pleased with ourselves. Afterwards I stay to chat and have a drink from the bar. We also see hundreds of snow petrels swirling around the back of the ship. At our daily briefing Samuel tells us more about Snow Petrels and Agnes tries to enable us to tell the difference between the 4 different types of seals we have been seeing (Crabeater, Weddell, Ross and Leopard) and to tell the difference between males and females. She has lots of photos for us to practice on.
Aaron tells us that we should reach the Ross Ice Shelf by mid morning tomorrow as we are making good speed now we are out in open water. In the ice we could only go about 2 knots and would take a lot of time – and not know what we would encounter on the way out. With the southerly wind from the low pressure system they are hopefully that the ice will be pushed out northwards clearing the route for where we want to go.
After dinner we have the 4th instalment of our Scott and Amundsen documentary.
Day 1-2: Meeting and Departure
Day 3: The Snares
Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: Macquarie Island
Day 7: Macquarie Island
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: At Sea
Day 10: At Sea
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Cape Adare, Antarctica
Day 13: Possession Islands
Day 14: At Sea, Coulman Island
Day 15: At Sea
Day 16: At Sea
Day 17: At Sea, Ross Ice Shelf
Day 18: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 19: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 20: Cape Evans/Cape Royds
Day 21: At Sea
Day 22: At Sea
Day 23: At Sea
Day 24: At Sea
Day 25: At Sea
Day 26: At Sea/Campbell Island
Day 27: Final Day at Sea