Antarctic Sound

Added 08 Jan 2014

We are at anchor when we awake. The captain has been trying to access Brown Bluff at Hope Bay on the coast of the Antarctic Sound. This Sound lies between the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and D'Urville, Joinville and Dundee Islands. The sound was not named for its location but rather for the ship "Antarctic" used during Otto Nordenskjold's 1903 Swedish South Polar Expedition and captained by Norwegian Carl Anton Larsen.

Huge tabular icebergs from the ice shelves in the Weddell Sea are brought to this area by the current. Known as "Iceberg Alley" by expedition staff, it is an astonishing assortment of floating ice both large and small. Although the 30-mile sound is often difficult to penetrate it offers the most impressive array of ice that we are likely to see on our journey ... and it certainly lives up to its name today. HUGE tabular icebergs and lots of smaller ice too. As a result we are unable to land at Brown Bluff but our captain and expedition team don't give up. We sail off to Joinville Island and make a landing at a site boasting a huge colony of Adelie penguins. We transfer from ship to shore via PolarCirckel rigid inflatable boats and are immediately struck by the sheer scale of the island, the snow and ice and literally tens of thousands of Adelies!

Following a successful visit we depart Joinville Island and return towards Hope Bay to review ice conditions. The wind has certainly moved some of the ice but there is still too much accumulated near to shore and it is not safe to land at Brown Bluff or nearby Esperanza, the Argentine Research Base. We decide to proceed south but little do we know what is ahead of us! The waters are littered with ice and icebergs. The ship advances and retires, explores to the portside and starboard, and tries hard to find a suitable route. It is slow progress but for guests on board a simply magical and remarkable journey. On more than one occasion the FRAM pushes its way through a pack of ice, nudging huge chunks of ice out of the way. Our Captain certainly knows what he is doing. It is late evening before we encounter clear water but guests are secretly reluctant to escape south because it has been such an exciting day!