After our stop at Mikkelsen Harbor, we headed south to Lemaire Channel. The channel is a narrow gap between an island and the mainland of Antarctica and is very majestic and impressive. It is little less than 7 miles long but only 1700 yards wide at the narrowest point. In fact, we arrived at the mouth of the channel early in the morning but we required daylight before progressing through it.
Out plan was to transit the channel and then stop at Port Charcot which was billed as “One of Antarctica’s Most Spectacular Iceberg Graveyards.”
I got out on deck around 6:30 just as we were starting to get some light and took some pictures as we were getting ready to enter the channel. The geography is amazing with snow covered peaks interspersed with glaciers. Icebergs dot the channel that we were about to enter.
As daylight broke, we progressed through the narrow channel. The pictures don’t really do it justice. I have put a red circle on a few of the photos to show the passage we were going through. It looks from afar like “that won’t go.” At one point, I thought we were going to turn left but it turned out to just be a large ice field as we passed it.
We got through the passage and headed to Port Charcot.
Port Charcot is a small bay at the north end of Booth Island. We had planned to go diving and try to find some suitable icebergs to dive in this area. We got there about 9am and started to get our gear loaded in the RIBs for our dive.
We got all geared up and then went to find icebergs but in that short period of time, the ocean had started to get rough and the wind was picking up so we had to call the dive. Our revised plan was to drive around the icebergs a bit and then go ashore. I got my GoPro out and got some quick footage approaching a penguin colony on the rocks. Note that the water doesn’t look rough and you can’t tell how hard the wind is blowing, but that will become evident quickly.
We also briefly saw a leopard seal in the water but didn’t get close enough for a good photo or video.
At one point, we were going around an iceberg and I thought it would be fun to dunk my GoPro and housing into the water to get an underwater view as we passed it by.
There were definitely some really great icebergs in the area and the water was crystal clear. It surely would have been really good to dive one of them but in these cases, you have to trust the guides to know when to call a dive.
We soon go the “get back to the boat” call and we headed back. I turned on my GoPro for the ride. You can see why they decided to call the dive and recall the other passengers from the landing The ocean got rough very quick and it was a challenge getting back to the boat. I sure was glad I had a full drysuit on with a heated vest.
Richard had enough of the splashing and decided that since he was essentially going on a dive, he would put his mask on!
After we got back on board, we stowed all of our equipment in safe places. They were expecting a storm with high winds and waves. In fact, when I got back to my room, I could see the wind and waves quite clearly through the portal:
Even though we had some rough seas and wind, we enjoyed an excellent plated dinner that night and continued on our way to pass through the Antarctic Circle in the early morning the next day.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to dive with the icebergs (that would have to wait a bit longer), but we had a fun, interesting, and excitement filled day nonetheless.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle and Detaille Island