Today is our final opportunity for Antarctic exploration before the long and tumultuous excursion back to South America through the Drake Passage. The venue at hand is the Cierva Cove, a deep inlet on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, on the south side of Cape Herschel, within Hughes Bay. There will be no beach landing here; only cruising through this ice filled bay will be possible given the rugged terrain.
Having rested up for a little while, it is now time to hit Danco Island in the southern end of the Ererra Channel. As with every landing we've been able to make, I'm astounded by the physical beauty of this passage within the Antarctic Peninsula. There is a reason for this area's popularity as a landing site—penguins, scenery and whales—all ready to be swallowed up by the photographers aboard the Sea Explorer.
The Sea Explorer has made it down the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to Advord Bay, an invagination that is only 30 miles from the Wedell Sea on the east side. As we penetrate deep into this cove, I'm captivated by the splendid mountains and glaciers that line the landscape. Castellated icebergs are plentiful, and I start to discern outlines of wildlife in the distance.
Having completed our morning excursion to Brown Bluff, the Sea Explorer is now heading north-west through the Antarctic Sound en-route to our next landing site, Neko Harbor, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is no ordinary sea excursion; an incredible number of tabular icebergs, both large and small, are omnipresent. In fact, this is known as "Iceberg Alley," aptly named by team members of the Swedish South Polar Expedition of 1903.
The excursion this morning has been through the Antarctic Sound on our way to Brown Bluff, our first landfall on the Antarctic Continent. As the Sea Explorer powers towards our disembarkation site, we're blessed with viewing multiple tabular icebergs along the way in beautiful morning light.
It's storming on South Georgia Island today. The Sea Explorer is tossing and turning in large ocean swells. Our normal itinerary for today has gone out the window. The group leader of our trip is in consultation with the captain of the ship in an attempt to develop an alternative plan. A decision is made to enter the Drygalski Fjord on the southern part of the island. None of the staff has ever been to this bay before. We are told to remember, "flexibility is the key."