We crossed the Antarctic Polar Circle today – 66° 33' 46.6" S – one of the five major circles of latitude on Earth. This is the furthest south that any of the Furlongs Travel guests have ever been and one of the reasons Dawn and Richard chose this voyage! It is not possible to guarantee in advance that we would make it this far south because so much is dependent upon the ice and snow conditions. Richard was heard to breathe a sigh of relief as we bounced across the line - happy that no "refunds" would now be necessary!!
Today we feel like true explorers – we have to wait and see what the sea and ice conditions allow us to do. The scenery is amazing and there are lectures to attend this morning if we wish. Esther, our on board photographer, gives an inspiring presentation about taking images in Antarctica, and Rachel Morgan treats us to a fabulous talk about her 20 years living and working in Antarctica. Rachel was director of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust which has been instrumental in protecting historic sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Ross Sea. She spent 18 months at Rothera station where we hope to land tomorrow.
This afternoon we had hoped to sail FRAM into The Gullet, a narrow passage north of Marguerite Bay. It's often impossible due to sea ice and icebergs, and it proves impossible today. However our captain has already been on the look out for an alternative area to cruise in, and he delivers the stupendously scenic Hanussen Bay. The crew unload our Polar Cirkel boats and we are all treated to a scenic cruise including weaving in and around icebergs and exploring the sea ice close up. It is a fantastic afternoon - words cannot describe the beauty.
Back on board and who would believe it ..... the sun is shining brightly and we’re treated to a BBQ outside on deck 7. Yes, a barbeque in Antarctica! All the crew do a tremendous job and most of us brave it outside until the sun begins to go down, then there is a dash for the cozy inside lounge. It is noticed that the ice cream desserts slowly got colder and more solid during their time on the bufffet table! No need for a freezer.
To top a fantastic day, we are treated this evening to story-telling by Helga in the Panorama Lounge. We hear about the original FRAM ship and her explorations and men, including Nansen and Amundsen. The story is captivating, and cleverly interspersed with some magical piano playing by Steffen. Our guests are spell-bound by Helga's wonderful presentation.