Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

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Gonzàlez Gonzáles Videla Station, Wilhelmina Bay, and Gerlache Straight

This morning we navigated back to Paradise Harbor.

  • The name was given by whalers who would head to this bay in a storm as the harbor offers protection from winds of almost any direction.
  • Waterboat Point (across from Lemaire Island) was the sight of the ill-conceived but lofty-named British Imperial Antarctic Expedition of 1921 that had two teenagers living under an up turned boat for the winter.
  • It is also the home of the Chilean research base, Gonzàles Videla although little actual research takes place and the staff is entirely military.
    • Gonzàlas Videla base staff are fond of announcing themselves as “Paradise Bay Harbour Master” to passing ships.

We were the first boat again to take off to our last landing on Gonzàles Videla and what a surprised we received. There was a very rare (1 in 22,000) white penguin. It is called a Leucistic Penguin (also sometimes spelled leukistic) and it lacks pigment. A Leucistic Penguin is different from an Albino because it still has pigment in its feet and its bill, so it is not technically an albino.

This is a Leucistic Pentuin.

We saw a Crabeater Seal on an iceberg, but rather than sharing my photo, I am going to share the video Jay Patel’s (a fellow traveler) took yesterday.

There was also Elephant Seal near our landing and the Gentoo was right near it.

This is an elephant seal with a Gentoo right near it.

Dorene captured these photos of a Skua landing near the Gentoo and then taking off from the rock.

This Skua landed near the Gentoo.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

This is a Skua taking off from the rock.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams

It is kind-of sad to have completed our last landing. Each one has been so exhilarating. It is hard to think about how this expedition is coming to an end.

Sue Deitderich sent me one of her favorite photos of the Gentoo watching the Ocean Tramp that we had seen yesterday.

The Gentoo are watching the Ocean Tramp

Photo take by Sue Deitderich

Wendy took this wonderful photo of an iceberg today.  I am not sure where she took it, but it is  beautiful.

Photo taken by Wendy Busch

Photo taken by Wendy Busch

We celebrated Heidi’s birthday in the observation lounge this afternoon even though her birthday is not until the 29th. Her Mom, Sondra, thought it would be more fun to celebrate it on smooth waters rather than when we back in the Drake Passage. The staff made a cake big enough for 20 people for all of us to share.  So Sondra broke out the champagne and we started the party.

We are celebrating a birthday.

Photo taken by Jerry Kutach

This is Heidi's Birthday cake.

Photo taken by Sue Deitderich

We are celebrating a birthday.

Photo taken by Sue Deitderich

As we were traveling we were looking for more whales.  We started seeing some blows and a few whales appeared but not much over the surface of the water. The ship hung around the area for a bit and then continued heading further north towards Wilhemina Bay to look for more whales.

I still loved watching the icebergs…

This is an iceberg

This is an iceberg.

…but we weren’t finding many whales. So the captain and the expedition team decided to head further north to the Gerlache Straight.

We were just sitting and talking when we noticed that it was time for dinner so Fred, Bill and I started into the dining room when somebody yelled out, “Wow” and we knew there was a whale somewhere. Fred went to the back of the observation lounge; I grabbed Fred’s jacket; and Bill and I ran up to the upper deck. It was actually snowing and blowing. My hands were freezing and I wasn’t getting any photos with my camera so Bill gave me his gloves and we stayed out for a little bit longer.

Finally we gave up and went to dinner. Somebody should have been video taping the events at dinner. We started to eat and somebody again yelled, “Wow” and we would all stood and ran either to one side of the dining room or out on the back deck. Cameras were clicking everywhere. Then we would all sat down to eat again and somebody from the other side of the room shouted out and we ran to the other side. That scenario just kept repeating. I didn’t get any photos of whales so I just took one of Fred and Rick taking photos.

Fred and Bill are trying to get photos of whales.

It was great fun.  Fred got a video and, of course, Morten took several fantastic photos so I have to post them all.

This whale is jumping out of the water.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

You can see the whale's tale.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

You can see the whales tale.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is a great shot of part of the whale

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is another photo of the whale's mouth.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

At 21:45 they announced that we crossed back over the 60th latitude, left the Antarctic waters, and were back in the Drake Passage.  We were only rolling a bit.

Fred went with me when I slid some of my brother Bob’s ashes off the back side of our ship slightly after we passed the 60th latitude. I had asked about doing it in Antarctica and found out that it would have been illegal. It felt appropriate to put him in the slightly turbulent waters.

Tonight’s program (at 22:15) was the famous MF FRAM Crew Show. The show was wonderful. Joni and I even danced with the staff at the end.

I was looking forward to feeling like I was in a hammock as the shipped rocked through the night.


Cuverville and Damoy Point

I just happened to wake up at about 4:30 this morning, looked out of our port window, and saw the red ball of the sun popping up over the horizon.  I wish I had gone out on the deck for a photo.  It was an inspiring sight.

This navigation map from the MS FRAM continues the navigation of our trip.

Map of our voyage.

Andy and Jerry were just hanging out on the deck sometime today.  Just looking back at where we were takes my breath away.

Andy and Jerry are on the deck of the MS Fram near Cuverville.

Photo by Andy Golay

We navigated to the Errera Channel which is a scenic, narrow waterway between Rongé Island and the Arctowski Peninsula on the mainland.

  • It was discovered by the Belgica expedition and names for Professor Léo Errera (University of Brussels, and a Benefactor of the voyage).
  • The shallow waters between Cuverille and Rongé often trap and ground icebergs.
  • When the icebergs are trapped, cruise ships can more easily get through the channel.
  •  Errera is home to Danco and Cuverville Island.

We landed on the shores of Cuverville in the morning and Damoy Point in the afternoon.

  • Gentoo Penguins and Skuas are confirmed breeders on the islands.
  • In 1990 the minimum breeding population of Gentoo was 1658 pairs between Damoy Point and inner Dorian Bay.
  • We were told that Cuverille Island supports one of the largest known Gentoo Penguin colonies. They were not kidding. Gentoo were everywhere.
    • Early in the season,  snow cover impedes but doesn’t stop penguins accessing their nests and an intricate network of penguin highways is carved into the snow.

These photos of penguin highways were taken from the web and my not actually be from Cuverville or Damoy Point.

This s a penguin in a penguin highway

This is a photo from the web.

These are penguins traveling on the penguin highways.

This is a photo from the web

Watching the penguins is such wonderful fun. I know we have seen so many before but I don’t think I will ever tire of walking on the snow and watching the penguins. They have the right away and we were suppose to stay at least 5 meters away from them. But sometimes they walked right across our path and we just had to stop.  We, of course, had to be careful not to step into the penguin highways so that we didn’t create holes in their path.

This Gentoo walked right in front of us.

 Many of the Gentoo were just hanging out by the water.

Gentoo Penguins were hanging out by the water.

I am so excited because I got a video of the Gentoo jumping into the water and swimming around.  Just watching this video again brings a giant smile to my face.

Morten took a close up of one of the Gentoo swimming.

This Gentoo is swimming near Cuverville.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Dorene was also successful getting a photo of a Gentoo in the water.

This Gentoo is coming out of the water.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams

These Gentoo are so cute.

This is an adult Gentoo with a juvenile chick.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

We walked up the steep cliffs for spectacular sights.  You can tell from this photo of me that it was warmer outside today – no hat.  Of course, I had warmed up a bit from climbing up the hills.

I am at the top at Cuverville.

The views of the icebergs were such a such a treat.

See the views of the icebergs from the top at Cuverville.

These are icebergs seen from Damoy Point.

We could see the icebergs, penguin colony, our PolarCirkel boats, and some of our group on the shore.

A view from the top of Cuverville.

You can see our ship, the MS FRAM, in the bay

Photo by Andy Golay

Seeing the very young chicks with the parents protecting them was a joy.

Young Gentoo Penguins with a parent.

Photo taken by Pat Burnett.

The cliffs are also home to Skuas that attack the penguins. So the penguins have to be diligent in protecting there young.

This is a close up of a Gentoo Chick.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

These skuas were nested near the penguins.

This Skua is on a nest on Cuverville.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

We also saw several more abandon penguin eggs.  You can see this egg near the Gentoo with her chick, but no penguins are on this egg.

There is an abandoned egg near this Gentoo

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Here is another abandoned egg.

This is an abandoned Penguin egg.

We heard a loud sound and it was one of the icebergs turning over and creating a wake that sent waves all the way to the shore.  We were so lucky to have witnessed that event.

Rich, Dawn and I walked along one side of Damoy Point where we saw a part of whale skeleton. There was a Gentoo Penguin close to the shore?

These are whale bones at Damoy Point.

We also took photos of each other sitting on an iceberg near the shore.

I sat on an iceberg - Cuverville.

I don’t think I will ever tire of being around these penguins.

Gentoo penguin on Cuverville.

Two Gentoo Penguins on Cuverville Island.

These juveniles with the adult Gentoos are so sweet.

Gentoo with Juvenilles on Cuverville Island.

Heidi and Sondra were sitting and watching the Gentoo.  It is something I could have also done for hours.

They are sitting and watching the Gentoo.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

We walked up to a to a couple of Damoy huts that were used for airline pilots to rest. I don’t think it is used any more but we were able to go in one of the huts which was fully equipped.

This Skua is flying overhead – probably looking for an egg or a chick.

A Skua is flying overhead at Damoy Point.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Andy took photos of Rita and Valerie coming out of the blue hut.


This is the blue hut on Damoy Point.

Photo by Andy Golay

You can see the path we climbed up to get to the hut.

You can see the path we climbed to the blue hut.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Andy also took a photo of Sylvia by the red hut.

This red hut is at the top of Damoy Point.

Photo by Andy Golay.

I am continually overwhelmed with how privileged I am to be on this excursion.

I am by the red hut on Damoy Point.

Morten also took a photo of the snow snowshoers who went out today.

Snowshoers at Damoy Point

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

After we walked up passed the huts, my camera froze and nothing I did worked.   I freaked out a bit.   Later Bill told me to remove the battery and leave it out for a while. My camera is working again.  I am so relieved.

Tonight we had a spectacular sunset and it lit up the icebergs and mountain tops.

What a beautiful Sunset in Antarctica.

These icebergs are so beautiful in the sunset.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Did I mention that we had 2 hot tubs on the top deck.   Ann, Sylvia, and Dorene are cozy warm with great views all around.

They are enjoying the hot tub on the ship.

Photo from Dorene Abrams.

How lucky we were to see the moon over the glaciers.

The full moon is shining over the glaciers.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

At 22:00 they served “Rømmegrøt and Spekemat” which are traditional Norwegian food on the deck 7 aft.  I tried a bit, but it wasn’t for me.