Dec. 19 – Welcome to the ice!

    After a full week of pushing across the Drake PassageStrait, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Tierra del Fuego and the South Shetland Islands. Located about 100 mi (160 km) north of the Antarctic Peninsula, it is 600 mi (1,000 km) wide. – this evening we arrived in the pack ice. At first we could only see the tops of huge icebergs two or three times the size of the Oden – but as we continued on small, white spots – looking like the tips of breakers – slowly came close enough to be seen as car size and smaller pieces of ice that form the edge of the pack ice surrounding Antarctica.

    All of these pictures were taken between 3 and 5 AM under heavy grey cloudcover – but as we are now inside the Antarctic Circle we won’t see a sunset until we fly out to New Zealand sometime next week. It will just be one big, never-ending day! Here is the usual information for tracking our position:

    Latitude: 67 degrees 53 minutes south

    Longitude: 103 degrees 38 minutes west

    Air Temp: -1.3 degrees celcius

    Water Temp: -.8 degrees celcius

    Wind: 3 meters per second

    Sky: overcast with blowing snow

    No sunrise or sunset – simply sun for 24 hours straight

    In the first two hours we have probably seen at least 20 icebergs close like these – with far more visible just 15 kilometers away on the horizon. It is likely most of these came from breaks at the heads of large ice shelves, and contain snow and ice that is thousands of years old.

    We haven’t seen much wildlife here – only a group of cape petrols that has been gliding in circles about the boat since early evening.

    It is amazing to think that as huge as these icebergs are – what we see is only 10-20% of their total size – with the remainder lying below the surface of the sea. Hope you enjoy our first views.