Half Moon Island
Sadly one of the FRAM's expedition team fell ill during the landing at Cuverville Island yesterday afternoon and naturally all our concerns are with ensuring the appropriate medical treatment is provided as soon as possible. The ship's doctor advises medical evacuation and this involves sailing north to a Chilean research base situated in Maxwell Bay in the South Shetland Islands. Arrangements are made for an evacuation flight and this is later confirmed for late afternoon. Thankfully the patient is comfortable and doing well in the meantime.
Despite the unexpected change of plan the FRAM team continues to deliver an exemplary job for guests. This morning we visit Half Moon Island, a favoured expedition stop for its large chinstrap penguin rookery. Other than a short hill, the landing site is easy to explore. The serrated and crevassed cliffs are also home to Antarctic terns, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills and Wilson's storm petrels. Some folk head off snow shoeing here and others (including the Furlongs staff team!) join a kayaking expedition. The weather is sunny with blue skies. Layers of clothing are coming off because we are so warm. The scenery is absolutely stunning. It is an unbeatable day. Even the kayakers manage the suggested circumnavigation of Half Moon Island. Alex, guiding the kayakers, hands out chocolate after about an hour as an encouragement to keep going. Then gently mentions we are "almost half-way". Another 5 kms to go! Needless to say the kayakers are very happy but don't have much energy left by the time they return to the beach! Walkers have not only seen Chinstrap penguins but also some Macaroni penguins, plus Weddell, Elephant, Fur and Crabeater Seals.
During lunch we reposition to the Chilean Base Frei. Despite the lack of notice we now have permission to visit the base and also the neighbouring Russian Bellinghausen Station which boasts a beautiful wooden Orthodox Church. The Chilean staff greets us with tea and coffee and a shot of Chilean Merlot! We are free to explore both bases and the staff we meet are happy to chat and exchange stories. Most importantly our expedition team patient is evacuated safely ashore and the medical rescue flight takes off for Punta Arenas in Chile. We send our very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.