Classic Antarctica Trip Log (6 - 18 Jan, 2018) - Wednesday, Jan 10

Wednesday, January 10: Port Charcot
January 2018

Le Lyrial’ had spent the night at Port Charcot so we could make an early start. The first group started going ashore in the Zodiac boats at 8:00 a.m. The skies were gray, a light snow and a rising wind were threatened but this did not dampen the eagerness to get to land. There was a slight hitch because floating ice had drifted into the usual landing place so the boats had to divert around the headland to a more sheltered place. Once ashore there was a walk through the snow to the viewpoints.

Port Charcot is the harbor where the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot wintered his ship Français in 1904. It is bad form to name a place for yourself but Charcot named it for his father!

As people reached the top of the ridge and saw the myriad of stranded icebergs, cameras were immediately deployed. This place is sometimes called an “iceberg graveyard” because so many bergs are carried there on the prevailing current and left stranded. A track led to the penguin colonies where there was the “grand slam” of Gentoos, Chinstraps and Adélies, as well as a good view of crab eater seals lying on ice floes just offshore. At the top of a small hill there was a large cairn of stones which had been built by Charcot’s men over a century ago. By touching the stones, we could imagine a link with these pioneer explorers of the Heroic Age.

The weather could have been better but it was our first trip ashore, there was a superb view and we had a very good introduction to penguins, so everyone was happy.

In the afternoon, we had a Zodiac cruise among the same icebergs that we had looked down on in the morning. Close up, the bergs are even more spectacular in shapes and colors. Antarctica is not just black and white. There are amazing shades of blue and green in the ice. There were also seals and penguins to observe up close. Best of all there were three humpback whales feeding near the ship and we got good views and photographs from the boats as they surfaced, and then dived with a final flick of the flukes into the air as they disappeared.

Click Here to read 'Thursday, January 11: Dallman Bay and Cuverville Island'