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.

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Kinnes Cove, Half Moon Island, and Yankee Harbor

Today we were navigated into the Antarctic Sound.  The captain was hoping to make landings at Esperanza Station and Brown’s Bluff but it was not possible due to the ice.  The staff got together and adjusted our schedule.

Here is the map provided by the MS FRAM of our travels for January 19th through 22nd.

This is a map of where we landed in Antarctica.

You can see the navigation routes from this above map.  Our landing sights are much easier to understand by looking at this fabulous map created by Fred Perry, a new friend we made on this voyage.

This is a map of our landings.

Map Created by Fred Perry

The new plan had us stop in Kinnes Cove and land on  Joinville Island.  It is the largest of the 3 island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsular.  Joinville Island was discovered and charted in 1838 by the French expedition commanded by Captain Jules Dumont d’Urville.  He named it for Prince Francois, Prince of Joinville.

We got off of the PolarCirkel boat and made our way over the rocks.

We climbed over the rocks.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

We climbed a steep, snowy, and slippery slope.

Ann and I were hiking in the snow.

Ann said that I went higher up than she did. Anyway, we found a rookery of Adelie Penguins.  You can tell they are Adele because they have a black head and a white circle around their eyes.  I think this was the only time we saw Adelie Penguins.

A distinctive mark of an Adele Penguin is the white ring surrounding the eye.  They are a little smaller than other penguins.

Sitting on the nest.

This is an Adele Penguin Sitting on the nest.

Walking across the rocks

Adele Penguin is walking across the rocks.

Walking  and sliding across the snow

These Adele Penguins are in the snow.

Taken by Pat Burnett

Feeding a chick

Adele Penguin chick being fed.

Morten’s photo of and Adelie Penguin chick being fed just makes me smile.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer - Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

I call these the happy penguins.

Thes Adele Penguins look so happy.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

And here are a group of young ones with an adult.  Groups of young penguins together are called crèches. We were told that there is usually at least one adult watching over the young ones.

A baby Adele Penguin Rookery

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

“Esctatic Display”  I think this is what they call the talking that penguins do.

  •  It is typically done by unpaired males attracting females.
  • When a pair has found each other, they will call even louder, for a short while, as a kind of greeting(snake call).
  • Each single bird has a specific voice. In that way, they are able to recognize and locate their partner or chick, even among thousands of others birds in the colony.
  • If they just call loud enough and listen well. It is remarkable that in such large colonies, when one bird calls, the rest in a circle of a few meters around keeps silent, so everybody can find his partner.
  •  This ecstatic raising is also a warning for the others that he owns that specific nest.
Adele Penguin in Esctatic Display"

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This Adelie Penguin is bringing a rock to the nest.

This Adele Penguin is bringing a rock to the nest.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Swimming penguins

This penguin is swimming

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

At one point today I actually saw one of those Skuas swoop down and steal a penguin chick.

This Skua stole a penguin chick.

The second Skua also wanted part of the chick.

Another Skua wanted part of the chick.

Pat Burnett got a photo of some Snow Sheathbills. It is the only land bird besides the penguins that is native to Antarctica.   They do not have webbed feet. They steals krill and fish from penguins and sometimes eats their eggs and down-covered chicks. They also eat carrion, animal feces, and, where available, human waste.

These are Snowy Sheathbills in Antarctica.

This is a Snowy Sheathbill

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Some of us were chosen to do our  PolarCirkel Cruise today.  We had to put on special suits to go on the cruise.

I had to wear a special suit for the PolarCirkel cruise.

I loved getting up so close to the icebergs and blue ice.  It is so blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what we see!

The blue reflects under the ice

The ice looks blue

See the blue crevices in the ice.

The icebergs that our PolarCirkel took us near were so huge.  Perhaps you can get an idea of the size by seeing the ship behind it.

You can see the size of this iceberg compared to the ship behind it.

We had to navigate in the PolarCirkel boats through a lot of ice today.

This is the MS FRAM in front of the iceberg

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

At 22:00 the staff served fish soup in the Panoramic Lounge, but I was ready to sleep so I missed this.

January 21st.

We woke up to a beautiful morning.  Nice day to go out on the front deck.

It was a beautiful day to be on the deck of the FRAM.

Ann, Pat, Jane, Doreen, Rita, Valerie and I were all lucky enough to be chosen for the snowshoe trip today on Half Moon Island.  It is a crescent-shaped island in the shadows of picturesque mountains and glaciers of nearby Livingston Island.  The weather was so fabulous despite the winds which were blowing.

We were very excited about this adventure.

Pat and Nancy are excited about snowshoeing.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

Rita and Valerie were ready to go.

They are ready to snowshoe.

Photo taken by Dorene Abrams.

We snowshoed up (probably about 800 feet) to the top of a hill.  Of course I took a slight spill.

I took a slight spill on the show shoes.

It was an unbelievably incredible place to be snowshoeing.

This is a beautiful place to be snowshoeing.

Fred took a couple photos of our snowshoe group from the ship.

we are snowshoeing up the hill.

Photo taken by Fred Perry

We are snow shoeing in Antarctica.

Photo taken by Fred Perry

We were able to get  up pretty close to Teniente Camara station which had huge Argentine flags that I could not see.

This is Camara Station on Half Moon Island

We were not allowed to go all the way up to it. Somehow both Chile and Argentina argue that part of Antarctica belongs to them.   It has only been sparsely staffed in recent years due to the Argentine economy.  I seem to remember being told that Antarctica only really belongs to Antarctica.

There is something ideal about when you put your flag up in Antarctica to you mark your spot.  Anyway, Marlena took our her flag of Greenland and Tomasz helped her to hold it up.

Greenland Flag is held up on Half Moon Island.

We were given certificates for snowshoeing.  I thought I would frame mine, but posting it in the blog seemed like a better idea.

I got a certificate for snowshoeing in Antarctica.

After we finished snowshoeing, we were taken by PolarCirkel Boats over to another spot on the island to watch Chinstrap Penguins.  When we boarded the boats from land, we stepped in the water.  It was so nice to have the boots they lent to us.

Boarding a PolarCirkel cruise boat.

The staff said that this will be our only opportunity to see Chinstrap Penguins in significant numbers.  I am putting in this short video so you can see them and hear the wind.

The Chinstrap penguins name comes from the narrow black band under their heads.

I walked over the rocks to the end of where we were allowed to go. As we made our way to the top of the hill, the guides pointed out a Weddell Seal.  I actually got a photo of one with a Chinstrap.

Weddell Seal with a Chinstrap Penguin.

Morten, of course got some great photos of the Weddell Seals.

This is a Weddell Seal.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Morten also took this photo of Crabeater Seals.   There aren’t any crab  in Antarctica.  Crabeater Seals don’t eat crab.  They eat krill.

Crabeater Seals resting.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

In another place we also saw a young Sea Elephant just laying there resting, but I don’t have a photo.

There was a real treat waiting for those of us who chose to walk up to the rookery. There was one Macaroni Penguin in the midst of what looked like hundreds of Chinstrap Penguins.  You will be able to tell Macaroni Penguins from other species due to the colors of the feathers on top of their heads. They are yellow and black and very dark in color.

This is a Macaroni Penguin.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is a Macaroni Penguin.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

We were told that because the various penguins nests may be close to each other, this Macaroni Penguin may have  hatched in a Chinstrap area.  Because his visual imprint was Chinstrap, he just stayed there.  The staff said that he tried to mate once but it didn’t work out.

I was so excited when I saw that many baby chicks still in the nest. The fluffy brownish fur balls hang close to the adults.

Chinstrap with chick.

Chinstrap with chick.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Chinstrap with chicks.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – Copyright © Morten Hilmer

They climb over the rocks with such ease.

The Chinstrap Penguin climbs with ease over the rocks.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

This Chinstrap came pretty close to Sondra.  She had to stay very still.

This Chinstrap came very close to Sandra.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Jane Roosevelt took a great video of Chinstrap Penguins jumping across the rocks.

Heidi took these fabulous photos of Chinstraps.

This is a Chinstrap Penguin.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

This is a Chinstrap Penguin.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

After lunch and rest time we were taken to Yankee Harbor. It is known as a natural haven created by a one kilometer curved spit and was named for the American sealers that frequented here in the 1820s.  Yankee Harbor indents the southwest side of Greenwich Island.

We walked all around watching the Gentoo Penguins.  They are characterized by a white patch around and behind the eye that joins on the crown. The orange-red lower mandible is also a distinct feature.

We saw several rookeries of Gentoo. This island is known to have up to 4000 pairs of Gentoo in the terraced Gentoo colonies. In contrast to Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins, some Gentoo Penguins can be found around their breeding colonies all year round and they forage much closer inshore than the other two species.
There were many adults sitting on the nests keeping the baby chicks warm.

Gentoto Penguin keeping chick warm.

A few other adults were sitting on eggs that had not hatched yet.

Gentoo on the nest.

One of the penguin eggs had been abandoned.

This Penguin egg has been abandoned.

This one is climbing over the rocks.

This Gentoo is climbing over the rocks.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

Many other Gentoo were by the water preening themselves.

Gentoo Penguins preening by the water.

A few were jumping into the water. They looked like they were having so much fun.  I wish I had a good video of that.

Skuas were constantly flying overhead looking for a chick.

This is a Skua flying overhead.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer –

Despite the cold and wind, this trip is a blast and, again, I could hardly believe how privileged I have been feeling each moment on this voyage.

The crew of this ship has been very impressive. Not only have they been there to help us with any need we have, they are also so organized. Due to weather conditions and ice blocking the entry to a place, they had to make changes on our itinerary and they have been right on top it. The lectures have been very interesting and their preparations meetings have been short and to the point.

Tonight at 22:00 some of the crew members sang old classical songs as our evening entertainment in the Panorama Lounge.