Jan 13: Palmer Station and Lemaire Channel sunrise: 2:39am sunset: 11:55pm

A very early wakeup call was the necessity of the day. Representatives from Palmer Station were coming on board to brief the group. Palmer Station is part of the United States' Antarctica Program. It is the only station from the US program that is actually on Antarctica. Fen Montaigne, our guest author on board, had spent a great deal of his time on the continent at this station and as a result facilitated a visit arrangement for the group. In comparison to some of the other research stations scattered throughout the landscape, it is very small. Up to 50 people reside there from approximately October to March researching the environment and animals within a several mile radius. During the winter months the populations drops considerably to but a handful of people charged with the task of keeping the station running smoothly.

Following a delightful tour and history lesson of the station the Palmer crew served hot chocolate and brownies -- an apparent trademark of the place. No one seemed to reject the offer for something chocolate so far from home! Then off to Torgerson Island, the home of a Adelie Penguin colony.

Leaving the protected area of the harbor, the ship headed out and down the Lemaire Channel. It is very narrow with sheer black cliffs rising on both sides. The glaciers were pouring over and dripping down the sides of these cliffs like wax dripping down an candle. Also because the channel is so narrow it is not uncommon for the passageway to turn into a densely populated ice field -- large bergs among smaller ice shelves choking the way through. A less sturdier ship would have not made it, however the Explorer is an icebreaker -- slowly traversing the channel the captain lead the ship through this maze of white. The only sound that could be heard was that of the crushing ice under the hull. Once through the "avenue of white" the ship headed to a quiet bay and an opportunity to "play with the penguins" again.

The sailing world has many traditions and the crew of the Explorer are not exception. After dinner as people were beginning to retreat to their cabins, it was announced that on the bow of the ship was a great surprise. Bundled in the famous parkas with that trusty camera in hand the group gathered eagerly to find a special moment unfolding. The skies had released a blanket of snow at times so thick that one could only see a few feet ahead. The route to the next stop required a repeat back through the The Lemaire Channel. White was all around -- on the water, along side on the cliffs and coming straight down from the sky. To celebrate this phenomena , the crew had made hot chocolate and were serving it with a shot of your choice of alcohol! What a evening! Mother Nature was supplying the show -- the crew were supplying the refreshments!!!

Landing at Palmer Station


Main Building of Palmer Station

Scientist at Work

Fifteen Foot Rule: Notice Penguins Ignoring and Approaching

Guano Covered Guy: On His Way to a Bath

Family Affair

Napping Seals

Swim Time

Loner Seal!

Beginning of Lemaire Channel

Ice Field

Other End of Channel

Penguin Highway