Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Penguin Paradise

Today you get a 2 for 1, since we haven't been able to post in a couple days.

2/25 Drake Passage

Hello from the Drake Passage!

Yesterday turned out to be more of an adventure than we were expecting. The
plan was to take a 9am flight from Buenos Aires, arrive in Ushuaia at 12:30,
spend the afternoon in town, board the ship at 4 and depart at 5. Instead,
our plane made an unexpected stop so we didn't arrive until 3, only to find
that NONE of our bags had made it because our plane was overweight! Luckily,
the boat crew allowed us to delay our departure until the majority of the
bags arrived. I don't think anyone wanted to be stuck on a boat for 2 weeks
with 120 people with no clean clothes!

We had about 45 minutes to explore Ushuaia, which was lovely. It was a warm
sunny day, but VERY window. The town is built into a hill, and the Andes
tower in the background. A number of the mountains still have glaciers at
the top, which supply the town with water. The style of the buildings
reminds me of Switzerland with high peaked roofs, but the colors remind me
of Dominican Republic in that they are painted in bright yellows and blues.
Our only regret is that we didn't have time to get any crab. We saw some in
a tank though, and they were absolutely enormous. Even bigger than the king
crabs on Biggest Catch.

While we waited for luggage we boarded the ship and got our safety briefing.
The Sea Spirit is great and the crew is fantastic! All but 8 bags had
arrived by 9 pm (ours both made it, yeah!!), so we cast off around 9:30 just
as the sun was setting. We could see the southern cross directly above us,
and the jagged mountains rising into dark clouds behind us.

We made sure to secure the cabin and stick on our sea sickness patches
before going to sleep, because we entered the Drake Passage around 2 am.
There was a noticeable difference as we crossed from the Beagle channel into
the passage and we both woke up as the boat began to roll from side to side.
The “gym” on the boat leaves a lot to be desired, so I intended to run
around the deck on the 4th level this morning. However, my run was more of
a slow lurch. Between the salt water spray and the drizzle, the deck was
quite wet and I didn't want to end up overboard. The water is a beautiful
dark blue, that I haven't seen in any other ocean, but looks VERY cold.
We'll spend the rest of the day today heading towards Antarctica, but we
have lectures on birds, exploration history, and conservation to keep us

**Communications note** We won't have access to our regular e-mail while on
the boat or to view the blog. We'll be e-mailing our posts and having them
posted. BUT we do have our own address on the ship's web-mail system. So
send us messages at

2/26 South Shetland Islands

After a rough day at sea crossing the Drake Passage yesterday, we entered the calmer waters of the South Shetland Islands around 1pm today. We were not sick, like many people on the boat, yesterday, but were pretty sleepy from the anti sea-sickness patches. Today, we're feeling more lively. Kier did a nice 3.5 mile run around the deck this morning in the bright sunshine. We had a lovely lunch of hot butternut squash soup on the back deck as we watched the approach of the South Shetlands. There is amazing variability in the islands. Some are completely covered in glacier, others have green vegetation (at closer look, an ultra thin layer of moss), and some are dark rock.

After lunch we had bio-security checks. We vacuumed all of our gear and scrubbed our shoes in a special solution to make sure that were aren't introducing any seeds from our home countries into Antarctica. Every time we leave the boat we have to scrub our boots before leaving the boat and again when we get back on, to ensure that we aren't transferring anything from one Antarctic Region to another. After bio-security, it was time for our first excursion! We took the zodiacs to one of the Aitcho Islands, which lie at the northern entrance to the English Straight. As we got closer to the island, we could see, and hear, and smell PENGUINS!

Both chinstrap and gentoo penguins breed here. The gentoo penguins were on the beach where we landed. Some were lying in the sun, some were running around, and some are in the process of molting (they have to stand in one spot for 3 weeks!) They are very friendly and came right up and pecked at our boots. They really like to sqawk as they run around. The gentoo penguins have bright yellow beaks and shiny, white chests. Up the hill were the chinstrap penguins, who you can identify by their black beaks and the neat black line that runs around their chins. Some of the chinstraps were playing in the water, while others had climbed way up on a hill. There were hundreds and hundreds of penguins. Even as I am typing this, there is a small flock swimming right outside the window of the boat.

No comments:

Post a Comment